Close up of palm leaf
kew.org > Blogs > Kew Science blog

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.
Melocactus azureus grows on limestone outcrops in Bahia and is Critically Endangered (Photo: N.P. Taylor)

The most threatened cacti

Kew botanist Daniela Zappi is one of the authors of a paper highlighting the extinction risk faced by the charismatic cactus family, and is involved in helping the Brazilian government to improve the measures taken to protect cactus species.

Author
Fruit market in Sucre (Photo: G. Lewis)

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.

Author
Brassica oleracea growing on a cliff edge in Cornwall (Image: M. Chester)

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.
Author
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.

Author
Nepenthes ultra from the Philippines

12 new carnivorous plant species from the Philippines

Martin Cheek, a senior botanist at Kew, describes how 12 new species of carnivorous pitcher plants from the Philippines were discovered among Kew’s 7 million herbarium specimens.
Author
Photo of rubber shoes made from the latex of Hevea brasiliensis

Curating Biocultural Collections: a manual for the 21st century

Biocultural collections are a vital tool for research into human uses of the plant and animal worlds – the field known as ethnobiology. Mark Nesbitt, Curator of Kew’s own Economic Botany Collection, tells us about a major new Kew publication on the uses and care of such collections.
Author
A picture showing the eBook Flora of West Tropical Africa on a mobile phone alongside an old volume of the Flora of the British West Indies

Floras: In it for the long haul...

As Kew launches the world's first tropical regional Flora in ebook format, botanist Martin Cheek reflects on the hugely important and practically relevant information held within Floras and the future of Floras online.
Author
Transverse section of Geonoma pinnatifrons subsp. vaga, a palm, showing the vascular bundles in detail. Although woody, this tissue is not secondary xylem (Photo: P. Gasson)

Wood identification supports legal timber trade

Kew botanist Peter Gasson reveals the key role that wood identification plays in supporting the legal trade of timber and its products.

Author
A lab full of plant samples ready to burn (Photo S. Wyse)

Assessing the flammability of New Zealand plants

Sarah Wyse, an Early Career Research Fellow in our Collections Department, describes the first empirical study to measure the flammability of a range New Zealand plant species, recently published in the International Journal of Wildland Fire.

Author
Momordica charantia

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
Author
Hupda representative explaining a basket woven with Heteropsis flexuosa roots

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.

Author
Painting of Richardson fir

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.
Author
Photo of Sarah Barlow controlling Rana remotely via a web interface

Do alkaloids in nectar enhance pollination?

Sarah Barlow (Plant Ecologist) and Phil Stevenson (Natural Products Chemist), from Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory, report recent research on the role of floral alkaloids in the pollination of monkshood (Aconitum spp.)
Author
MSB seed vault (Image: Wolfgang Stuppy)

Evolutionary diversity in the Millennium Seed Bank

John Dickie, Head of Seed and Lab-based Collections at Kew, describes an approach to measuring and maximising the evolutionary diversity conserved in seed banks of wild species.
Author
The Lubango Escarpment in SW Angola – an area of high diversity and endemism still revealing new species (Photo: D. Goyder)

Angola’s hidden flora

Botanist David Goyder describes how Kew’s inventory work and recent participation in a major international expedition to Angola is helping to address gaps in our knowledge of plant diversity in southern Africa.

Author
Collecting seed of Brahea armata (blue hesper palm) endemic to Baja California (Image: W.Stuppy)

Saving the endemic and endangered flora of Baja California, Mexico

Michael Way describes the importance of an integrated plant conservation strategy for the Baja California peninsula in Mexico.

Author
Image showing the sacred lotus (Nelumbo nucifera), previously thought to be related to the true waterlilies, but now known to be more closely related to plane trees and banksias

APG - classification by consensus

Kew scientist Mike Fay discusses the issues with classifying flowering plant species, and the efforts made by the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group (APG) to reclassify species using technological advances in DNA sequencing.

Author
Trithuria sumbersa on agar

Tiny plants make a huge impact

Paula Rudall from Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory describes how comparative studies on the micromorphology of tiny plants can help us better understand flowering plant evolution
Author

Building a climate resilient coffee economy for Ethiopia

Aaron Davis describes how Kew scientists are helping to build a climate resilient coffee economy strategy for Ethiopia via a rigorous assessment of the influence of climate change on coffee-producing areas and wild coffee forests.
Author
Phalaenopsis amabilis (L.) Blume, painted by Marianne North.

Discovering new orchids

André Schuiteman, research leader in Identification & Naming at Kew, describes how new orchid species are discovered and how we could speed up the process of discovery.
Author

Pages