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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.
Incense burners. Left: collected by Sir Douglas Forsyth’s mission to Yarkand, central Asia, 1871 (EBC 63412); right: From the Hadramut, Yemen, donated by the explorer Theodore Bent in 1895 (EBC 63411).
22nd December 2014

Frankincense: resin with many stories

At a time of year when frankincense, myrrh and gold come to mind, Mark Nesbitt hunts for the scent of the Orient in Kew’s Economic Botany Collection.
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A picture showing the white branching structure of the fungus entwined with brown roots
11th November 2014

Europe's forest fungi - diversity, distribution and fate

Fungi are responding to environmental change across Europe. Kew scientists Laura Martinez-Suz and Martin Bidartondo explain ambitious efforts to understand what is happening.
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Alder seed collections ready to put in the dry room at the Millennium Seed Bank (Photo: S. Kallow)
14th August 2014

Saving the UK’s tree seeds: a resource for science

The UK National Tree Seed Project (UKNTSP) is working to better understand and conserve seeds from the UK’s woody flora. The project will build a national ex situ seed collection that is both genetically comprehensive and comprises sufficient seeds to support research and conservation.
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Painting of Richardson fir
22nd December 2013

The taxonomy and evolution of Christmas trees and their relatives

Rhian Smith takes a closer look at Christmas trees and their relatives, and describes the scientific work Kew is carrying out on the taxonomy, biogeography and evolution of this important group of plants.
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Photo of taknig a core sample from Diospyros

Tackling illegal wildlife trade through a scientific and partnership approach

Madeleine Groves, the CITES Implementation Officer at Kew, describes how the application of science can help combat illegal wildlife trade.
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Picture of red and yellow fruits and a white stem with white flowers

Discovering plant diversity – are we up to speed?

New plant species and even genera are discovered at a startling rate. Assistant Keeper of the Herbarium, Bill Baker, describes the discovery of three new palm genera and reflects on the need to accelerate the taxonomic process.
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Photo of Michele Sanchez with a Caicos pine

Rescuing the threatened Caicos pine in the Turks and Caicos Islands

A new Darwin Plus project will take further steps to rescue the threatened Caicos pine from local extinction by guiding its future conservation based on science, experience and a long-term collaboration between Kew and Turks and Caicos Islands partner institutions.
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Inga edulis in flower (Photo: G Lewis)

Developing an identification key for the economically important genus Inga

Kew placement student Joe Bishop describes his work developing a quick and reliable tool for identifying species of Inga, an economically important tree genus native to Central and South America.

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The Marama bean, Tylosema esculentum (Photo: T.Ulian)

The UN Sustainable Development Goals and Kew’s Science

Following the UN Sustainable Development Summit 2015, which took place at the end of September, Paul Wilkin explains how Kew is making a significant contribution to the UN’s sustainable development goals through its biodiversity science. Kew will use the goals as a focus of its science activities during the 15 year time frame.

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Participants on the CWR Malaysia training course search for crop wild relatives

Gaps in global wild crop collections

Danielle Haddad and Ruth Harker report on the results of the global gap analysis paper 'Global Conservation Priorities for Crop Wild Relatives', published in Nature Plants on 21 March 2016.

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Princess of Wales Conservatory

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.

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

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?

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Photo of a new population of Lecomtella above the Riambavy waterfall

Ancient Madagascan grass sheds light on crop evolution

Maria Vorontsova, Kew's grass taxonomist, describes how an ancient grass lineage from Madagascar could provide valuable insights into today's crop species.
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Photo of horse chestnut leaves damaged by the leaf miner Cameraria ohridella

Horse chestnut under attack

Why do some horse chestnut trees and related species of Aesculus differ in their resistance to attack by leaf miners? Research natural product chemist Tetsuo Kokubun explores a new approach to mine data mountains, to tease out needles from a field full of (chemical) haystacks.
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Photo of Amborella trichopoda, endemic to New Caledonia

Southeast Asia as a cradle of early flowering plant diversification

Sven Buerki, from Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory, discusses the idea that islands located in the region today occupied by South-East Asia played a major role in the early diversification of flowering plants.
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Expedition vehicle stuck in mud

Conserving Madagascar’s orchids

Recent research into orchid mycorrhizal fungi, and why this work is crucial for orchid conservation and habitat restoration in Madagascar, is revealed by Kew scientist Kaz Yokoya.

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Combretum fragrans seeds

Sowing the seeds of science for our future

Director of Kew, Richard Deverell, explains why 2015 feels like it may end up being a watershed year for the environment, and how when science and politics come together in harmony, great things can be achieved.

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A small fraction of the huge diversity of flower heads within the daisy family

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.

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Laurels

What’s in a name? New version of The Plant List released

Alan Paton, Assistant Keeper of Kew's Herbarium, describes some of the problems associated with plant names and the importance of the new release of The Plant List.
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16th Flora of Thailand Conference logo

Documenting the plants of a tropical Asian country – the Flora of Thailand project

In September 2014 over 130 delegates gathered at Kew for the 16th Flora of Thailand Conference. Dave Simpson describes this ambitious project and Kew’s role over the five decades since it began.
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