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Plants: From Roots to Riches

  • Kew released a study warning that, due to the effects of climate change, Arabica coffee could be extinct by the end of 21st century.
    From Episode 25 Protecting coffee from the threat of extinction
  • Banking plant DNA at Kew
    Episode 21 How has DNA revolutionised plant science and research?
  • The Millennium Seed Bank building
    From Episode 19 Kew's Millennium Seed Bank at Wakehurst has successfully save seeds from over 13% of the world's wild plant species
  • From Episode 18 The great storm of 1987 provided new opportunities to revive the health of Kew's mature trees
  • From Episode 17 The Flora of Tropical East Africa (FTEA): The largest botanical project of its kind completed over the last 100 years
  • From Episode 15 Traditional herbal remedies are now being investigated to discover new medicines
  • Triticum aestivum ‘Florence Aurore’ on a test plot in Lebanon
    From Episode 14 Crop Wild Relatives — the search for sustainable crops
  • Fraxinus excelsior common ash
    From Episode 13 Tony Kirkham, Head of Kew’s arboretum, explains how Kew has managed the threat of ash dieback

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.

Plants: From Roots to Riches on Radio 4

See galleries from the series and listen to archive programmes

Plants from Roots to Riches, Radio 4 logo

Go to the Radio 4 site

Episode 25: The Great Providers

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

12 September 2014

Biocultural collections are a vital tool for research into human uses of the plant and animal worlds – the field known as ethnobiology. Mark Nesbitt, Curator of Kew’s own Economic Botany Collection, tells us about a major new Kew publication on the uses and care of such collections.

5 September 2014

Recently-released IUCN Red List assessments for slipper orchids from the temperate Northern Hemisphere show that a shocking 79% of species are threatened with extinction. Mike Fay, Head of Genetics and Chair of the IUCN Orchid Specialist Group, describes Kew’s Red Listing of these iconic plants and what is being done to save them.

29 August 2014

Sarah Barlow (Plant Ecologist) and Phil Stevenson (Natural Products Chemist), from Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory, report recent research on the role of floral alkaloids in the pollination of monkshood (Aconitum spp.)

More from Kew

Book of the month

Plants: from roots to riches - a companion to the series.

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

Framed prints

Enjoy a framed picture in your own home with a botanical print.

Rachel Pedder-Smith's Herbarium Specimen painting

Shop online

Tea towel and bag with designs by Holly Francesca.

Tea towel and bag with designs by Holly Francesca

Unlimited entry

To the Gardens for you and a family member. £72 per year.

Summer dedding display by the Broadwalk