West Itremo
kew.org > Kew Science > News > Beauty of Madagascar’s grasses revealed for the first time

Beauty of Madagascar’s grasses revealed for the first time

A digital scanner powered by a car battery creates original images of grass species in Maria Vorontsova's new book.

Live scan of Cyrtococcum deltoideum, a grass endemic to Madagascar

A new title, Identification guide to grasses and bamboos in Madagascar has just been published by Kew Publishing. Authored by Kew Scientist Maria Vorontsova, the book is an essential piece of hand luggage for anyone visiting the country with an interest in botany.

Maria has spent the last five years studying the grasses of Madagascar, travelling the length and breadth of the country to ensure all of the country’s 144 genera are featured in the book.

She carried a high-resolution colour scanner with her throughout all her travels. By hooking it up to a car battery, she was able to accurately scan live green plants and incorporate them into the book. This inventive technique was first used by Kew photographer, Andrew McRobb.

These enlarged colour scans of grasses and their flowers mean that many of these species are illustrated in a publication for the very first time, including the strange annual Decaryella madagascariensis from Madagascar’s southern spiny forest.

The author is passionate about grasses and says, ‘Madagascar’s grasses have, until now, been largely ignored by scientists who consider them boring and difficult. The tiny flowers arranged in complex structures mean that they can be extremely difficult to identify. Now with the help of this new book, I hope that Madagascar’s grasses will be more widely studied’.

This book is available to purchase online and in the shops at the Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew. 

Styppeiochloa hitchcockii