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Plants & fungi

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.

Bumblebees feed on nectar containing toxins

Photo of a bumblebee on a rhododendron
Thu, 2014-05-29 14:10

Nectar produced by flowers to attract pollinators often contains deterrent or toxic compounds produced by the plant that are normally associated with herbivore defence. The significance of these nectar toxins is not fully understood, and they may have a negative impact on pollinator behaviour and health.

Book of the month: Plant Lover's Guides

Tue, 2014-05-27 14:42

About the series

Flora of West Tropical Africa eBook

Photo of Presentation of pre-publication versions of the FWTA e-book on USBs at the AETFAT Congress in January 2014
Tue, 2014-05-27 10:57

Presentation of pre-publication versions of the FWTA e-book on USBs at the AETFAT Congress in January 2014. Back, left to right: Brice Sinsin (Benin), Gabriel Ameka (Ghana), Sekou Magassouba (Guinea), Martin Cheek (Kew) Richard Deverell (Kew), George Gosline (Kew), Francois Kouame (Ivory Coast); front: Adjima Thiombiano (Burkina Faso). (Photo: Y. Harley)

New Caledonian radiations

Photo of a forested hillside in New Caledonia
Fri, 2014-05-23 13:24

The origins and evolution of the rich and distinctive flora of New Caledonia have long attracted the attention of botanists. Kew scientists have recently collaborated on three studies dedicated to this biodiversity hotspot: two on the radiation and biogeography of lineages of Rubiaceae and Ebenaceae and one on an endemic genus of Sapindaceae.

International Day for Biological Diversity 2014 - <em>Kew Scientist</em> 45 features research on islands

Photo of Lord Howe Island
Thu, 2014-05-22 13:34

Today (22 May 2014) is the United Nation’s International Biological Diversity Day and this year’s theme is Island Biological Diversity. The theme was chosen to coincide with the UN designation of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States and with the timing of the decision by the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity 'to strengthen the implementation of the Programme of Work on Island Biodiversity'.