Plants in action at Kew

Plants are essential for clear air and water, food medicine and fuel. About 70% of the world’s population rely on plants for medicine. Scientists at Kew endeavour to discover new ways to make use of plants for good and share this knowledge with others.

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branch and berry of a yew

The bark from yew trees has been helping the fight against cancer since the 1960s

17 Sep 2009

The Pacific yew (Taxus brevifolia) is one of 500 yews at Kew and has important medicinal uses. Extracts from the bark of the Pacific and common yew are used in treatment for ovarian and breast cancer.

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Jurupai brazilian wood trumpet

A jurupari ceremonial wooden trumpet donated by Richard Spruce is being exhibited at Kew

16 Sep 2009

Kew's Jurupari ceremonial Brazilian trumpet is just one of the treasures held in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection. It was donated to Kew's collection by 19th-century plant collector Richard Spruce.

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DNA Helix sculpture outside the Jodrell building

Kew's DNA barcoding is leading the way for unlocking the future use of plant material

16 Sep 2009

The impact of being able to assess plant material by identifying its DNA is helping Kew identify the future use of plant material in commercial products, forensic science and authenticating Chinese medicines.


Marianne North Image 806 - Neem tree

Kew scientists have discovered a new use for the neem plant

15 Sep 2009

Thanks to Kew scientists, a new insecticide derived from the neem plant is now on the market.


Ginkgo biloba at Kew

The maidenhair tree from Princess Augusta’s original botanic garden is still thriving at Kew

14 Sep 2009

Ginkgo biloba is one of the few trees that survive from Princess Augusta’s original 1762 botanic garden.


chamaemelum nobile flower

Chamomile considered a 'secret weapon' during the Second World War

14 Sep 2009

The camouflage properties of the chamomile plant were secretly investigated at Kew for use in concealing grass airstrips from enemy planes.

1 comment

Rocky landscape with mountains in China

Using native plants from Asia in medicines and health products

07 Sep 2009

Extracts from the wild ginkgo plant are used to treat asthma and digestive and circulatory problems for centuries.


Flower of Ramosmania rodriguesii

Kew scientists lead a horticultural breakthrough and cultivate café marron to bear fruit

05 Sep 2009

Kew scientists have performed a horticultural breakthrough by not only cultivating the small tree to flower regularly but for it to successfully pollinate and bear fruit.


Close up of cape arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) a white lily

Kew's garden project is growing traditional remedies in the Eastern Cape

12 Aug 2009

Plants are vital to the health of people in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where 85% of the population rely on traditional plant-based medicine. Kew is working with collaborators in Africa and the UK to grow and use plants for the treatment of diseases that affect local people.


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