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Meet the experts guided tours

Meet Kew's horticultural and science staff and find out about their work behind the scenes. February's tours will focus on carnivorous plants. Every Tuesday at 11.30am.

Event details

Tuesdays at 11.30am, tour lasts about 90 minutes
Venue: 
Meet at the Information desk (by Victoria Plaza café) at 11.15am, max 15 people per tour. Places allocated on a first come, first served basis (until 1 March).
Price: 

Included with entry to the Gardens and offered each day on a first come, first served basis.

Save on the price of your Gardens ticket when you book online.


Tour overview

During the guided tour you'll meet Kew's knowledgeable and enthusiastic staff and visit areas of the Gardens not normally seen by the public. You'll gain an insight into different aspects of work that Kew undertakes in areas of science, horticulture and conservation.

Depending on the featured plant or fungus, the tour could include a visit to the Jodrell Laboratory, the Herbarium or one of our Nurseries. You'll see how Kew's research can be used to help people across the globe, for example with re-forestation or finding alternative crops for farming in remote areas.

Tours will be mainly outside, but you may be taken to different areas behind the scenes at Kew. All locations are wheelchair accessible.
 


Introduction to carnivorous plants

Carnivorous plants usually grow in areas with poor nutrients often on acidic soils, such as bogs. They have adapted over millions of years to make up for this lack by catching and killing insects and small animals in order to extract nutrients from them.

They use various ways of catching prey including:

  • Fly-paper – where the plants have sticky leaves that the prey lands on and sticks to. In some the glands stick to the prey and envelop it, or the leaves themselves wrap round the stuck insects, secreted enzymes slowly digesting them.
  • Pitchers and pitfalls – have a slippery surfaces inside which the prey loses its footing on, and falls into a watery digestive liquid, where enzymes or bacteria digest the prey.
  • Snap traps – in the Venus fly trap, hinged leaves have sensitive hairs on the upper surfaces which when touched by insects trigger the leaves to snap shut; in others, underwater traps are 'suction traps' triggered when water fleas or insect larvae touch sensitive hairs on the trap flap, and the inrush of water pulls them into the trap, which then shuts. 

Carnivorous plants at Kew

Kew has two collections of carnivorous plants in the Princess of Wales Conservatory. A large collection of temperate plants in the Cool Carnivorous Zone 9 and a collection of tropical plants in the Warm Carnivorous Zone 8. Kew also has many cultivated species of Nepenthes behind the scenes in the Tropical Nursery.

Kew scientists have discovered and named many carnivorous plant species, genera and even families. They also investigate how the plants trap and digest animals.


Uses of carnivorous plants

Carnivorous plants consume large quantities of mosquitoes, midges, deerflies and horseflies, others consume the larval stages of some human parasites.


Conservation

Many of the new species are threatened in the wild by loss of habitat caused by agriculture (eg. deforestation, drainage and nutrient run-off), pollution and collection of wild plants. A lot more research needs to be done to assess the size of the extinction risk. .


March's tours

Join us in March to find out more about Narcissus (daffodils). From 1 March, a limited number of tickets will be able to be booked as you enter the Gardens (from 10am). Please ask at the gate for more information.