10 May 2022

Watch: The Economic Botany Collection

Unearth our collection of useful plants in this behind-the-scenes film series at Kew.

By Grace Brewer

Economic Botany Collection jars

The Economic Botany Collection at Kew is home to an extraordinary range of plant-based artefacts which have been used by humans worldwide for millennia. 

Usually kept locked behind closed doors, you can now discover items from the collection from the comfort of your own home. 

Watch our YouTube series The Economic Botany Collection at Kew and see what treasures you find. 

The cure for malaria: Cinchona

Curator Mark Nesbitt delves into the medicine cabinet and draws out quinine, a plant-based cure for malaria that’s found in the bark of cinchona trees. 

Sustainable paper: Bamboo 

Paper didn’t always grow on trees; believe it or not, it once came from cotton rags.  

Due to a shortage in Europe in the 1800s, the hunt for an alternative paper-making material began in the western world and bamboo was a serious contender. 

Join PhD candidate Frankie Kubicki as she reveals a period of experimental papermaking by Thomas Routledge.  

Hidden stories in the collection 

Among the 100,000 items in our collection, lie the stories of individuals that have remained largely untold.

Historian Caroline Cornish embarks on a mission to share their contributions to modern day science. 

Economic Botany Collection jars

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Our diverse collections and world-class research reveal the vital role of plants in protecting the future of our planet.

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