Experience air at Kew Gardens
Air is one of the four elements that have inspired the floral displays in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. See sculptures of these fascinating seeds carried on swirls of air above the flowers.
Many plants use the air to disperse their seeds. Seeds carried away on the wind can grow where they will not be competing for nutrients, water and light with other plants. Often plants have evolved adaptations that allow their seeds to be carried more effectively. These might be wings, helicopter blades or long hairs to catch the breeze!
Watch the video
Find out how plants disperse their seeds through the air, in this video from the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership.
Discover more about the importance of plants to our lives and how the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership is helping to save wild plants and habitats for our future.
Over the last ten years we have successfully banked 10% of the world's plant diversity. Seeds from deserts, to mountains, of all different shapes and sizes.
This film will be playing in the film room in Kew's Princess of Wales Conservatory until the 4 March.
Seed sculpture by Emma Garofalo
Don't miss artist Emma Garofolo's capsule sculpture of a Tefé rose fruit in the Princess of Wales Conservatory.
Emma's sculptures are often influenced by nature and used to tell a story about the environment.
Using lightweight materials, so they can be moved with comfort and ease, Emma will create and capture the lightness of the coiled seeds of Tefé rose, that glide to the ground on their fringe of long hairs (pictured) after dropping from the capsule.
Tefé rose (Cochlospermum orinocense) is from the tropical rainforests of South America where wind dispersal is mostly used by trees that can catch the wind above the canopy or near rainforest outskirts. This is important because saplings growing closely together compete for light, water and soil nutrients.
Look and listen
Be lifted by the bright orchid colours and be moved by airy sounds near the main pond.
Air is represented in the floral displays by yellow Phalaenopsis orchids, orange Anthurium and red Guzmania. These bright flowers evoke the energy of seeds carried on swirls of air, and are mixed with silver foliage representing cool wind.
Stand by the main pond and listen carefully for artist Leslie Deere's Soundscape. Feel a sense of air and wind movement inspired by the large twister-shaped floral centre piece, and hear the sound of a seed pod opening and seeds dispersing to the ground.
- Exhibition runs from Sat 4 Feb - Sun 4 March
Adopt an orchid seed for £25
Find out how you can adopt an Oncidium cheirophorum seed and help safeguard the world’s plants.
Some seeds don’t need hairs or wings to carry them on the wind; they are very small and light. Orchids produce some of the smallest seeds – tiny dust-like grains which are almost invisible without a microscope.
The seeds that we save are from plant species faced with the threat of extinction and those of most use for the future. By adopting an Oncidium cheirophorum orchid seed, stored in Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, for just £25 – your donation will be used to safeguard the world’s plants.