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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.
Sustaining life and agriculture in the Peruvian desert (O. Whaley)

Sustaining life and agriculture in the Peruvian desert

Kew scientist Oliver Whaley describes recent research in the Peruvian desert, working with large-scale farms to research, safeguard and restore plants.

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Range of chromosome sizes in angiosperms.

When it comes to genomes, size matters

Jaume Pellicer and colleagues from Kew's Jodrell Laboratory describe the immense variation in the amount of DNA in flowering plants and why, when it comes to genomes, size really does matter.
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Photo of Cypripedium tibeticum

Slipper orchids are closer to the edge than we thought

Recently-released IUCN Red List assessments for slipper orchids from the temperate Northern Hemisphere show that a shocking 79% of species are threatened with extinction. Mike Fay, Head of Genetics and Chair of the IUCN Orchid Specialist Group, describes Kew’s Red Listing of these iconic plants and what is being done to save them.
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Collecting seed of Agave schawii ssp. goldmaniana for the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership, Baja, Mexico (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)

Safe for the future: seed conservation standards

Elinor Breman reflects on the development and implementation of seed conservation standards across the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership network.

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Coffea arabica fruits, known by coffee farmers as 'cherry' (Photo: A.P.Davis)

Coffee chemistry and the search for the tasty, pest-free bean

Paul Green and Aaron Davis explain how scientists at Kew and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are exploring some interesting areas for future research to combat coffee pests, using naturally occurring coffee chemicals and pesticidal plants.

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Image showing Afzelia africana in Sierra Leone (X.van der Burgt)

Pollen and pollinators in legumes

Kew scientist Hannah Banks, a member of the Comparative Plant and Fungal Biology team, speculates on whether we can use pollen structure to predict which species are vulnerable or resilient to environmental change.

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Herbal medicines on sale in South Korea (Photo: Gaël Chardon, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Trade in threatened medicinal plants - why plant names matter

Jason Irving, from Kew’s Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) project, explains why plant names pose practical problems for the regulation of international trade in medicinal plants, and what Kew is doing to help.

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Eligmocarpus cynometroides immature fruits

A snapshot of extinction in action

Dion Devey and Sven Buerki, from Kew’s Jodrell Laboratory, discuss their research into the critically endangered Madagascan plant, Eligmocarpus cynometroides.
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Poppies

A tale of two poppies

James Wearn, leading a project called ‘Kew Gardens at War’, describes how one poppy helped to keep pain away during wartime while another poppy lets us remember and reflect on the pain and sorrow of war.
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Photo of gallery forest in Madagascar

Mycorrhizal research supports orchid conservation in Madagascar

Madagascar is home to more than 1,000 species of orchid of which about 90% are endemic. Kew’s Head of Conservation Biotechnology, Viswambharan Sarasan, describes progress in the identification of orchid mycorrhizae, and how this could help future orchid conservation and restoration programmes.
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A day in the life of a botanical curator

A day in the life of a botanical curator

Professor Kathy Willis (Director of Science) pays tribute to Kew’s curators and the huge range of roles they fill, taking inspiration from a poem written by Lesley Walsingham, Assistant Curator, Asia Team.

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Charlotte teaching a group of Master's students to make a herbarium specimen (Photo: I. Larridon)

Training the trainers in Guinea

In February 2016, Kew Africa and Madagascar team members Martin Cheek, Charlotte Couch and Isabel Larridon travelled to Guinea in West-Africa for fieldwork and to train local botanists.

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P. erinaceus logs felled in Sierra Leone (Image: X. van der Burgt)

CITES CoP17 plants: recent decisions in global trade

Kew scientist Noeleen Smyth highlights the latest discussions regarding the international trade of wild plants.
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Multiple developing flowers numbered with arrows showing the sequence of flower formation

Abrus precatorius - a deadly beauty

Gerhard Prenner, researcher in plant morphology and anatomy, presents his recent studies on Abrus precatorius, a "deadly beauty" with fascinating flowers and inflorescences.
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Plants: From Roots to Riches

Kew's Director of Science, Professor Kathy Willis, describes the BBC Radio 4 series Plants: From Roots to Riches, which goes to air today at 1.45pm. The series provides a unique examination of the major breakthroughs in botanical science, as seen through the lens of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
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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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