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Plants: From Roots to Riches

  • Cones of Encephalartos altensteinii
    From Episode 1 Encephalartos altensteinii, one of the world's oldest pot plants
  • Director of Kew Gardens and passionate plant collector who introduced many exotic species we now regard as common garden plants
    From Episode 2 Joseph Banks, the plant collector who brought us some of our favourite garden plants
  • Plant family tree video
    From Episode 3 Video: The Plant Family Tree
  • Amanita muscaria Fly Agaric
    From Episode 4 Video: Fungi, the mysterious organisms supporting our ecosystems

Plants: From Roots to Riches on Radio 4

Plants from Roots to Riches, Radio 4 logo

See galleries from the series and listen to archive programmes

Go to the Radio 4 site

BBC Radio 4 is broadcasting a new 25-part series about the relationship between people and plants over the last 250 years. This major new partnership between the BBC and the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, will tell the story of botany and plant science at Kew Gardens.

Presented by Kew's Director of Science, Professor Kathy Willis, the series features stories from Kew's rich heritage, starting with the early botanists and plant hunters whose pioneering work storing and categorising plants established botany as an important scientific discipline. Later episodes will show how Kew continues to lead the way in modern day plant science throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. 

Featuring interviews with Kew scientists, and delving into Kew’s unique archives, the series will bring the story up to date by exploring key contemporary scientific advances such as the use of DNA testing in plant classification.

Listen to Episode 10: Orchidmania

The world’s most famous botanic garden

Come and see our historic glasshouses, rare and beautiful plants, and inspring botanical art galleries.

A summer meadow in mauve and yellow

'Plants: From Roots to Riches' Book

Based on the Radio 4 series. Kathy Willis and Carolyn Fry take us from the birth of botany right through to modern day plant science.

Plants: From Roots to Riches, a landmark Radio 4 series

Kew science blog

30 July 2014

Madagascar is home to more than 1000 species of orchid of which about 90% are endemic. Kew’s Head of Conservation Biotechnology, Viswambharan Sarasan, describes progress in the identification of orchid mycorrhizae, and how this could help future orchid conservation and restoration programmes.

21 July 2014

Kew's Director of Science, Professor Kathy Willis, describes the BBC Radio 4 series Plants: From Roots to Riches, which goes to air today at 1.45pm. The series provides a unique examination of the major breakthroughs in botanical science, as seen through the lens of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

4 July 2014

New species of porcini are turning up in all sorts of locations, from tropical Australia to your local food market. Kew's Head of Mycology, Bryn Dentinger, describes how these discoveries are helping to unveil the origins of porcini and their complex evolutionary history.