Kew's projects in the UK
Find out how Kew's scientists are recording and conserving plant and fungal life in the UK.
22 Sep 2009
Cypripedium calceolus (lady's slipper orchid) is one of the rare species of orchids native to the UK (Image: Wolfgang Stuppy)
Recording British fungi for research
Kew is involved in several leading projects recording fungi in the British Isles.
We are producing an important new illustrated reference book on Club and Coral fungi groups found in the British Isles. One species of fungus that we're focusing on provides an important indicator for assessing the value of old pastures and grasslands.
The British and Irish fungi covered will include British truffles, puffballs, earthstars and stinkhorns, and British chanterelles and tooth-fungi. The book will be used by conservationists, researchers, botanists and mycology students studying the fungi kingdom.
We also produced the first-ever comprehensive checklist and database of the British and Irish Basidiomycota. This group covers more than 3,600 species, including all the mushrooms and toadstools, the bracket fungi, puffballs, earthstars, chanterelles and tooth-fungi, club and coral fungi, rusts, smuts, and basidiomycetous yeasts.
Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership in the UK
The UK's flora is endangered. Many of our native plant species are under threat due to loss or degradation of habitats. Work is underway to improve, restore and connect large areas of wildlife habitat.
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank partnership has been successful in collecting and conserving seed from over 90% of the UK's native seed-bearing plants. These collections will be used to support conservation and restoration programmes across the UK.
Grasses and Sedges of Britain and Ireland
The Botanical Society of the British Isles (BSBI) publishes a series of handbooks on selected families within the British and Irish floras. Kew was involved in publishing a handbook on grasses, together with a third edition of one on sedges.
The need for a new guide to British and Irish grasses was recognised in the mid-1980s.Our handbook includes 220 species. The new publications include detailed information on ecology and distribution, along with guidance on how to recognise different species in the field. Each species is illustrated with a new plate.
Conservation information about species under threat of extinction or of potential use in the future is also included.
Protecting British Orchids
Of the approximately 50 species of orchids native to the UK, many are rare. The lady's slipper orchid (Cypripedium calceolus) was reduced to a single plant, largely due to over collection in the 20th century, and Epipogium aphyllum has not been seen in the UK since 1986.
As a result of their rarity, orchids have formed a major focus for the work of Kew's Conservation Genetics Group since its formation in the mid-1990s.
The projects we focus on are chosen in close collaboration with conservation agencies, including Natural England. Results from our conservation research are fed back to the relevant agencies to help protect British orchids.
Seeds of most of British orchid species have been collected and stored. Germination techniques have been developed for 66 species of European orchids and 10 British species have been reintroduced. Our orchid conservation work also includes research to improve orchid propagation and re-establishment.
We have introduced British native orchids into wild and cultivated areas at Kew. Orchids grown in our laboratories have also been given to orchid gardens at Sussex University and the Natural History Museum. An orchid garden at Kew is also planned.
Discover Kew's Millennium Seed Bank partnership in the UK...
Scientific Research & Data
- CITES: UK Scientific Authority
- DNA Banking of the UK Flora: a Resource for Conservation Genetics and Comparative Plant Biology
- Medicinal Uses of British Plants
- Molecular and Biophysical Dissection of Changes in Dormancy in Seeds of Sisymbrium officinale and Arabidopsis thaliana
- Plant Diversity Challenge: the Official UK Response to the Global Strategy for Plant Conservation
- Towards a DNA Barcode for British Fungi and Lichens
- British Club and Coral Fungi: a Textbook on the British and Irish Clavarioid and Ramarioid Fungi (Basidiomycota)
- Checklist of British and Irish Basidiomycota: Web Version and Revised Edition
- Database for UK Fungi of Conservation Importance
- Ex Situ Conservation of Threatened UK Bryophytes
- Grasses and Sedges of Britain and Ireland
- Sainsbury Orchid Conservation: In Vitro Propagation and Re-Establishment of UK Terrestrial Orchids
- Conservation Genetics of UK Plants
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