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Plants & fungi

Evolution of Europe’s rarest orchid

Photo of Platanthera azorica
Mon, 2014-07-07 15:09

The IUCN Red List of endangered species currently recognises only one species of butterfly-orchid on the mid-Atlantic Azorean archipelago. However, a recent monographic study, published in PeerJ, unequivocally revealed the presence of three butterfly-orchid species on the islands, although it reinforced the idea of a single immigration event by airborne seed from mainland Europe.

Kew publishes world-leading book on Erythronium by Kew horticulturist

Photo of Chris Clennett
Tue, 2014-07-01 14:16

Seven years of research, sometimes in less than hospitable locations around the globe, lie behind Dr Chris Clennett’s new book - The Genus Erythronium: A Botanical Magazine Monograph. By day Chris works in the beautiful botanic gardens of Wakehurst Place at Ardingly, but to write the learned tome on Erythronium he had to climb remote mountain ranges in California and even follow in the path of grizzly bears.

Red Listing of Cypripedium completed

Photo of Cypripedium dickinsonianum (Photo by Dr Gerardo Salazar)
Thu, 2014-06-12 16:26

Hassan Rankou (Red List Authority, Orchid Specialist Group) at Kew and colleagues from North America and China have completed the Red Listing of the genus Cypripedium (one of five genera of slipper orchids, with 52 species) and the assessments have been published today in the latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Unusually large flavonoids found in a candytuft

Image of Iberis saxatilis and the structure of one of the large flavonoid glycosides
Mon, 2014-06-09 14:37

While working on a project studying the medicinal properties of plants, researchers at Kew noticed unusually large flavonoid glycosides in an extract of Iberis saxatilis (a species of candytuft). The compounds were revealed using analysis by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry, which can be used to separate the chemicals in a plant extract and determine their molecular masses. The largest had a molecular mass of 1300 Da, making it the seventh largest flavonoid glycoside (excluding anthocyanin pigments) currently reported on databases of natural compounds.