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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.
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.

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.
Princess of Wales Conservatory
19th July 2016

Medicinal properties of succulent plants

Olwen Grace, Research Leader in Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology, and PhD student Madeleine Ernst from the University of Copenhagen, discuss evolutionary studies of the medicinal value of succulent plants.

Image showing fruit of native Melocactus intortus collected for ex-situ conservation
14th July 2016

Tropical Important Plant Areas in the British Virgin Islands

Kew’s UK Overseas Territories (UKOTs) team recently returned from a successful launch of the Tropical Important Plant Areas project in the British Virgin Islands. Rosemary Newton reflects on the highlights of this trip.

Image showing artist’s impression of elephant birds on a beach in Madagascar
4th July 2016

Madagascar's orphans of extinction

Researchers in Comparative Seed Biology, Wolfgang Stuppy and Aurélie Albert-Daviaud, explain how some Madagascan plants are living on 'borrowed time' following the extinction of their seed dispersers.
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.

Mesembryanthemum crystallinum (Aizoaceae) plants growing in Mexico (Image: W. Stuppy)
20th June 2016

Extreme survival of seeds on Earth and in space

Anne Visscher from Kew’s Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology department discusses extreme survival of seeds on Earth and a research proposal to send seeds to the International Space Station to test their survival in outer space.

Dendrobium cuthbertsonii
13th June 2016

The diversity of terra incognita: predicting orchid species richness in New Guinea

André Schuiteman, Research Leader in Identification and Naming, explains how we can predict the species richness of unexplored areas.

Oak forest at 2,700 m in the Talamanca Mountains, Costa Rica. All the canopy trees are Quercus and about 40 m tall (Photo: A. Monro)
6th June 2016

What inspires a research idea?

Alex Monro, Research Leader in Identification & Naming, explains how he developed a proposal to understand and evaluate the importance of wet, high elevation oak forests for conservation in Latin America.

Charlotte teaching a group of Master's students to make a herbarium specimen (Photo: I. Larridon)
27th May 2016

Training the trainers in Guinea

In February 2016, Kew Africa and Madagascar team members Martin Cheek, Charlotte Couch and Isabel Larridon travelled to Guinea in West-Africa for fieldwork and to train local botanists.

Bombus terrestris feeding on Rhododendron ponticum (P.C.Stevenson)
24th May 2016

Hidden poisons in rhododendron nectar

Philip Stevenson (Plant Chemist) and Alison Scott-Brown (Plant/Insect Ecologist) from Kew’s Natural Capital and Plant Health department report on the toxicity of natural chemicals in the nectar and leaves of Rhododendron.