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Kew Science blog

Explore some of the research and activities of our global science and conservation programmes. Keep up to date with current developments in Kew science and science policy.
Flowers of Paubrasilia echinata with the characteristic blood red upper petal (Image: L.P. de Queiroz)
14th February 2017

New species roundup: Kew’s 2016 discoveries

2016 saw the publication of over 450 new genera, species and varieties of fungi and plants in papers co-authored by Kew scientists and their collaborators around the world. Of these, more than 200 can be directly ascribed to Kew scientists themselves.

China Williams in one of the Plenary meetings
30th January 2017

Kew at the UN Biodiversity Conference

China Williams, from Kew’s Conservation Policy team, discusses updates from the UN Biodiversity Conference that took place in December 2016 in Cancun, Mexico.

Hupda representative explaining a basket woven with Heteropsis flexuosa roots
24th January 2017

Mobilising Richard Spruce’s 19th century Amazon legacy

The extraordinary collections and observations made by the English naturalist, Richard Spruce in Brazil are finding their way out of the archives and back to their country and communities of origin, stimulating new research and perspectives on people and plants in the Amazon.

A small fraction of the huge diversity of flower heads within the daisy family
16th January 2017

Effeuillons la marguerite (let’s pluck the daisy)

Scientists from Kew’s Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology department discuss the fascinating structure and diversity of daisy flower heads, with the help of an old, ‘romantic’ game.

Picking ripe coffee (harvesting) at Yayu. (Image: Jeremy Torz, Union Hand-Roasted Coffee).
12th January 2017

Mainstreaming biodiversity conservation and climate resilience in Ethiopia’s wild coffee forests

We often hear about the negative impacts of growing coffee, such as deforestation, non-recyclable paper cups and even enforced labour, and sometimes about the positive benefits that coffee brings to farmers and their communities. But could we do more?

Collecting Ilex aquifolium in the Peak District
29th December 2016

Collecting holly with the UK National Tree Seed Project

Kew’s UK National Tree Seed Project (UKNTSP) is tasked with collecting seeds of woody species from across the UK to build a national ex-situ collection. Bede West, UKNTSP Fieldwork Officer recounts his trip to collect holly (Ilex aquifolium) from the Peak District - and suggests scientific amendments to 'The Holly and the Ivy'.

Flowers of Paubrasilia echinata with the characteristic blood red upper petal (Image: L.P. de Queiroz)
14th December 2016

Scientists give a new name to Brazil’s national tree

Gwilym Lewis, Research Leader in Kew’s Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology department, explains how and why some plants are reclassified, and reveals the complications of renaming such an iconic species.

Transverse section of Aristida pungens leaf (Image: A. Musson & E. Gray)
28th November 2016

Our year so far: internships at Kew

Three of Kew’s science interns reveal the projects they have been involved in during their 12-month placements, and explain how they have put into practice what they learnt at university

Fungus-growing ants (Credit: Pepijn Kooij)
21st November 2016

On the origin of mutualisms

Pepijn Kooij, from Kew’s Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology department discusses the importance of understanding the evolution of mutualisms in reference to fungus-growing insects.
Sunset lights up the tsingy outcrop where the main population of Tahina spectabilis is found
14th November 2016

Revisiting the Madagascan suicide palm: a decade on

Lauren Gardiner continues the fascinating tale of Tahina spectabilis, and recounts her journey to Madagascar to see the species in the wild, ten years after the discovery of the magnificent Madagascan suicide palm.

Leaves of Tahina spectabilis individuals can be seen emerging from the other vegetation
7th November 2016

Revisiting the Madagascan suicide palm

Kew scientist Lauren Gardiner recounts the tale of the discovery of the extraordinary Madagascan suicide palm, Tahina spectabilis. Lauren, along with a group of international botanists, recently returned to the only known location of this palm – a story which Lauren will tell in next week’s Kew Science blog
Sea beet (Beta vulgaris subspecies maritima) growing on a shingle beach (Image: M.Chester).
31st October 2016

Understanding plant chromosome evolution

Michael Chester, Research Fellow in Plant Resources at Kew, reports on his research on plant chromosomes and the potential of technological advances in DNA sequencing.

Cones of Picea breweriana (Credit: M.Way)
24th October 2016

Priority conifer seed collecting from the Pacific Slope

Kew scientist Michael Way reports on an expedition to the western United States to collect seed from priority conifers for Kew’s Global Tree Seed Bank Project.
P. erinaceus logs felled in Sierra Leone (Image: X. van der Burgt)
11th October 2016

CITES CoP17 plants: recent decisions in global trade

Kew scientist Noeleen Smyth highlights the latest discussions regarding the international trade of wild plants.
Herbal medicines on sale in South Korea (Photo: Gaël Chardon, CC BY-SA 2.0)
27th September 2016

Trade in threatened medicinal plants - why plant names matter

Jason Irving, from Kew’s Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) project, explains why plant names pose practical problems for the regulation of international trade in medicinal plants, and what Kew is doing to help.

Sustaining life and agriculture in the Peruvian desert (O. Whaley)
14th September 2016

Sustaining life and agriculture in the Peruvian desert

Kew scientist Oliver Whaley describes recent research in the Peruvian desert, working with large-scale farms to research, safeguard and restore plants.

Image showing some of the reference publications on grasses written by scientists at Kew over the last 130 years.
22nd August 2016

Growing our knowledge of grasses

Maria Vorontsova, Research Leader in Comparative Plant & Fungal Biology discusses the importance of grasses and reflects on Growing the Grass Classification: an international scientific meeting which took place in July.

Image showing the Chimanimani Mts., an area of endemism which lies on the Mozambique-Zimbabwe border
15th August 2016

Collections and conservation

Kew scientists Sonia Dhanda and Iain Darbyshire explain how Kew’s herbarium specimens are used to contribute to conservation through the Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs) programme.

Momordica charantia
9th August 2016

Managing diabetes with medicinal plants

Peter Giovannini examines the potential of medicinal plants to provide cost-effective and culturally appropriate management of diabetes in Central America
Board of Foundation, Flora Malesiana
1st August 2016

Kew goes to the Flora Malesiana 10 symposium

Kew scientists report back after attending a symposium focused on South-East Asian taxonomy, systematics and conservation.