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Field Guides: published and planned - COMPLETED

Making the information in Kew’s major African Floras more easily accessible through a series of field guides.
The first in a series of field guides, the Field Guide to the Trees and Shrubs of the Miombo Woodlands is a collaborative project between authors from Kew, and from the country concerned- in this case Zambia. Several more field guides are in prep

RBG Kew has always been very good at producing baseline botanical information in the form of regional Floras. A logical follow-up to such projects is a series of field guides for individual countries or plant groups: more user-friendly than the hardcore botanical information that is a good Flora. More restricted in scope, too, but more accessible at the same time. In the future we will consider field guides in the form of electronic apps, but as of 2011 we have produced hardcopy ones: on Ethiopian orchids, on woody plants of the miombo woodlands, of Madagascan palms, of African mangroves. As with the Floras, we do not work on these projects in isolation, but preferably with colleagues from the country concerned.

In the pipeline are two field guides to trees: one for Burkina Faso (more than 200 species) and one for Mali (almost 300 species); again, in collaboration with local colleagues, and also building on the work that our Millennium Seed Bank Partnership has been doing in these countries. Seed germination information is included, as are distribution maps and conservation assessments, in addition to the usual images, descriptions and habitat information, data on local names and uses, and identification keys. In Madagascar, we have a field guide to the genus Aloe in preparation and plan to produce guides for the Cyperaceae, useful plants and spiny forest trees, depending on funding.

These will be the first botanical guides for these countries (as opposed to regional overviews such as RBGK’s Flora of West Tropical Africa); they will appear in both French and English, and the purpose is to help raise interest in botanical diversity and conservation, as well as provide practical help in growing wild species.

Project partners and collaborators

Burkino Faso

Sanou, Lassina (Ouagadougou National Herbarium)


Razafitsalama, Jeremy (Missouri Botanical Garden); Rabenantoandro, Johny (Rio Tinto QMM); Randriatafika, Faly (Rio Tinto QMM); Rabehevitra, David (Rio Tinto QMM)


Channeliere, Stephanie


Sanogo, Sidi (Centre de Semences Forestieres)


Bandeira, Salomao (Universidade Eduardo Mondlane)

Project funders

Palm field guide

World Bank (for production/publication costs)

Littoral forest guide Madagascar

 Rio Tinto QMM