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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 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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Specimens in Kew's Fungarium
16th October 2015

Introducing Kew's Fungarium and its treasures

Lee Davies, Fungarium Collections Assistant, introduces Kew’s Fungarium, which represents the most comprehensive collection of fungi in the world and is one of only several collections of fungi with a dedicated research team.
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Cortinarius uraceisporus, a webcap recently described as new to science from Finland (Photo: K.Liimatainen)
9th October 2015

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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Photo of dried porcini in a shop in Italy
7th July 2015

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. We describe how these discoveries are helping to unveil the origins of porcini and their complex evolutionary history.
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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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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 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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