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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.
Image showing Lauren Gardiner making a herbarium specimen from a leaf from a young adult Tahina spectabilis, near Amparahibe
3rd April 2017

Revisiting the Madagascan suicide palm: a spectacular discovery

In a surprise final part of the Tahina spectabilis story, Lauren Gardiner reveals a stunning discovery the team made in Madagascar last year after their return to the original site at Antsingilava, which they can only now reveal and which has just been published in the international conservation journal, Oryx.

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Image showing gigantic Dypsis carlsmithii in Palm Hotspot Analalava
30th March 2017

Working with local botanists in Madagascar: fieldwork in a biodiversity hotspot

MSc students from Kew and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) reflect on experiences from their field trip to Madagascar, where they worked with local botanists and saw astonishing plants and fungi.

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Image showing high rates of erosion are causing the Betsiboka River in western Madagascar to turn red
21st March 2017

Conservation in Madagascar: MSc field trip experiences

This year’s MSc students have just returned from their exciting field trip to Madagascar. Yannick Woudstra (MSc student) tells us about the students’ experiences with conservation and field work in this biodiversity hotspot. In Part one Yannick looks at Madagascar’s difficult conservation story.

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Trees
21st March 2017

For the love of trees

Kew celebrates International Day of Forests and reveals what is being done to protect trees for future generations.

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Bothrops asper is considered the most dangerous snake in Central America. (Image: Dogymho, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license)
27th February 2017

Can plants be used to treat snakebites?

Peter Giovannini and Melanie-Jayne Howes in Kew’s Natural Capital and Plant Health Department assess the scientific evidence supporting the local use of plants to treat snakebites.

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Collecting Potamogeton acutifolius, Norfolk
23rd February 2017

Banking the UK’s Seeds: the MSB UK Programme

The last decade has seen a range of dynamic and innovative developments in UK biodiversity strategy and policy, in response to the many challenges facing our environment and wider wellbeing.

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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.

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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.

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Collecting Ilex aquifolium in the Peak District
22nd 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'.

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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.

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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.

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Brassica oleracea growing on a cliff edge in Cornwall (Image: M. Chester)
26th July 2016

Taming the Savage Cabbage

Researchers from Kew’s Plant Resources team ponder the transformation of wild plants into crops – the process of domestication that enabled the rise of civilisation.
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Thistle Dump Cemetery with the notorious killing ground of High Wood behind (Image: J. Wearn)
27th June 2016

Plants and conflict landscapes – the Somme and beyond

James Wearn and Andrew Budden describe the context for their recent expedition to the Somme, and explain how Kew’s former Director, Sir Arthur Hill, inspired their research.

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Fruit market in Sucre (Photo: G. Lewis)
25th April 2016

Bolivian Botanical Conference in Sucre

Kew scientist Bente Klitgård reports back from the 3rd Bolivian Botanical Conference in Sucre, and explains the importance of scientific conferences.

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Volunteers surveying for the rust fungus Puccinia scorzonerae on Scorzonera humilis (viper's-grass) (Photo: T. Wilkins)
1st February 2016

The Lost and Found Fungi project

Brian Douglas describes how the Lost and Found Fungi project at Kew aims to help develop British fungal conservation, by trying to find out which 'lost' species are truly extinct and which species are simply under-recorded due to lack of survey work.

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The seeds of Abrus precatorius L., widely used for jewellery, contain a potent toxin. MPNS has collated c 70 names of use within the pharmaceutical literature as well as 8 different scientific synonyms. (Photo: G.Lewis)
26th January 2016

Kew’s Plant Names Services adopted by global health regulators

Bob Allkin explains how Kew’s Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) is involved in helping the world’s health regulators to ensure that herbal products are traded safely by supporting development of an important new medicinal standard.

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Botanical ingredients of a Christmas pudding (Photo: M. Fay)
22nd December 2015

The botanical origins of a Victorian Christmas pudding

Have you ever thought about the botany behind a traditional Christmas pudding? Here, Kew scientist Michael Fay reveals the botanical secrets of an old family recipe.

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A ridge of the Chimanimani Mountains, viewed from a school compound in the Zomba area (Photo: M.Cheek)
16th November 2015

From the forests and woodland of Mozambique

Martin Cheek describes his recent expedition surveying and collecting specimens from remote, virtually unexplored regions of Manica, Mozambique, guided by the knowledge of local communities.

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Small pugnacious ants (Anoplolepis steingroeveri) swarming a Leucospermum seed as they move it back to their nest (Photo: Adam J M Devenish).
6th May 2015

Invasion of Argentine ants

Iconic South African plants may be under threat from invasive Argentine ants. Kew scientist Adam Devenish investigates.

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Seasonally dry woodland of the inter-Andean valleys of Bolivia (Photo: B.B. Klitgård)
13th April 2015

Documenting Bolivia's bountiful botany

Land-locked Bolivia has a wide range of vegetation types from its eastern plains to the mountainous Andes. After years of international collaboration, including the participation of 11 Kew scientists, Bolivian vascular plants have been comprehensively documented for the first time.

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