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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.
Pressing specimens as part of the botanical inventory

Resources for restoring Brazilian Atlantic Rainforest

The Bahian Atlantic forests are conservation hotspots. Eve Lucas describes how information gathered from botanical surveys and local knowledge provides an important resource to inform habitat restoration in the region.
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Cover of the book, using illustrations of medicinal plants drawn by the Yanomami researchers

Medicinal knowledge in the Amazon

As the Yanomami of Brazil publish their traditional medicinal knowledge for the first time, in collaboration with Kew, William Milliken explores the transfer of traditional knowledge both within and outside traditional communities.

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Cactaceae are amongst the most threatened species in Brazil. Cipocereus bradei is a fascinating endemic the Espinhaço Range in central Minas Gerais (Photo: N.Taylor)

Growing knowledge: the Brazilian List of plants and fungi

Daniela Zappi, one of 575 authors of the second edition of the Brazilian List of Plants and Fungi, explains how this project has improved knowledge of her native country’s biodiversity.

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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)

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.

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Cones of Picea breweriana (Credit: M.Way)

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.
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Finn Michalak from Otari Native Botanic Garden collecting seeds of Aciphylla squarrosa in Titahi bay, New Zealand. (Photo: Peter Giovannini)

Why and how are we saving seeds of Pacific island plants?

Kew has been developing an ambitious seed conservation programme in the Pacific region. Why should we direct our efforts to conserve native species of this region? Peter Giovannini explores some valuable reasons for investing resources in the conservation of Pacific floras and describes conservation activities to collect and store the seeds of the plant species of the Pacific region.
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Photo of dried porcini in a shop in Italy

Discovering new species of porcini using food, phylogenetics and fieldwork

New species of porcini are turning up in all sorts of locations, from tropical Australia to your local food market. Kew's Head of Mycology, Bryn Dentinger, describes how these discoveries are helping to unveil the origins of porcini and their complex evolutionary history.
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Liriodendron tulipifera, an eastern North American representative of the magnoliid clade. (Photo: Wolf Eiserhardt)

What happens to the tree of life when climate changes?

Wolf Eiserhardt, Marie Curie Fellow at Kew, describes how past extinctions can be used to study the effect of climate change on the tree of life.

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Cortinarius uraceisporus, a webcap recently described as new to science from Finland (Photo: K.Liimatainen)

Celebrating the importance of mycological research

Although Kew is mostly known for its work on plants, a large part of the research is focused on the diversity and importance of fungi. Pepijn Kooij explains how mycologists at Kew are working to understand a wide variety of topics in fungal biology and the importance of fungi for plant diversity.

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Foxglove (Digitalis pupurea) with terminal peloric flower (Photo: P.J. Rudall)

Weird and wonderful foxgloves

Paula Rudall, reflects on how careful observation can reveal weird and wonderful structures.

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Image showing the results of a prolific day of plant and fungus collecting in Madagascar

Tales from the tropics

Kew MSc students write home from Madagascar, where they are currently in the field.

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Sea beet (Beta vulgaris subspecies maritima) growing on a shingle beach (Image: M.Chester).

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.

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Image of Sorbus torminalis in the snow

How did plants evolve frost hardiness?

Rafaël Govaerts from Kew's Herbarium describes the discovery of three key traits instrumental to the radiation of flowering plants into freezing environments. The results of the study were recently published online in the journal Nature and will appear in the print issue on 6 February.
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Photo of laboratory apparatus collecting leaf exudate from aloe leaves in the Jodrell Laboratory

Unravelling the evolutionary history of Aloe vera and its relatives

Plantasia, Kew’s summer festival celebrating the positive effects of plants, is underway. Researcher Olwen Grace highlights investigations in the Jodrell Laboratory on Aloe vera, one of the most widely used plant species in the world today, and other aloes.
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Elizabeth Blackwell, first woman to author a plant name in the Linnean system and author of A Curious Herbal.

Mind the (gender) gap: Kew's records show fewer than 3% of land plant species published by women

A unique and complete dataset created and maintained by Kew scientists over the last 260 years, has revealed a striking difference in the number of new species of plants described by male and female botanists.

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Photo of Rhododendron malayanum (Ericacaeae) from Southeast Asia

Kew’s new Tropical Plant Identification Handbook

A new book written by botanists from Kew’s Herbarium aims to convey information about tropical plant families in an easy-to-use and accessible format. Timothy Utteridge, Head of the South-East Asia Team and generalist botanist in Kew’s Herbarium, describes how the book was developed.
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Dendrobium cuthbertsonii

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.

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Leaves of Tahina spectabilis individuals can be seen emerging from the other vegetation

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
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Using pesticidal plants for crop protection

Phil Stevenson, from Kew's Jodrell Laboratory, reports on how small holder farmers in Africa use wild plants to control pests and how his new projects are helping optimise their use and reduce pressure on wild habitats
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Picture of plant growing on steep cliff with the sea in the background

A seed conservation network for islands of the Mediterranean Basin

An ambitious conservation project based in the Mediterranean Basin has come to the end of its first three-year phase. Sarah Hanson, from Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank, describes how seven conservation organisations have come together to protect the flora of this fragile region.
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