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.
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.

Author
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.

Author
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.

Author
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.
Author
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.
Author
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.
Author
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.

Author
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.

Author
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.
Author
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.
Author
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.
Author
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.
Author
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.
Author
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.
Author
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.
Author
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.

Author
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.

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
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.
Author
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.
Author

Pages