Accelerated Taxonomy

Pushing the frontiers of taxonomic research to accelerate the characterisation and identification of species in near real-time.

Person inspecting a herbarium specimen with an iPad

Head of department: Dr Isabel Larridon

Taxonomy is the science of naming, identifying and classifying living organisms.

It is the bedrock of the scientific study of life: any research involving living organisms needs a taxonomic point of reference and it is therefore hugely important to the global scientific community, yet in need of increased resource and focus.

Taxonomy has been the backbone of Kew’s scientific research since the organisation’s establishment, and our collections and taxonomic experts are essential to the processes of discovering, describing and conserving biodiversity.

Drawing on increased data availability and new tools and technologies, including phylogenomics and machine learning, we will push the frontiers of taxonomic research to accelerate the characterisation and identification of species in near real-time.

We will also develop methods for speeding up the discovery of hidden diversity in natural history collections.

Department initiatives

  • Documenting Biodiversity: accelerating the description, naming and classification of plants and fungi 
  • The Tree of Life: expanding and populating the tree of life for plants and fungi 
  • Innovating Species Identification: developing and implementing new identification tools for recognising species 
  • Tropical Important Plant Areas: identifying priority areas for plant conservation in biodiverse tropical countries


  • Purple flower


    Research, curation, safeguarding, identifying and naming of Kew's Herbarium specimens from Africa.

  • Round red fungi on a small tree trunk

    Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre Biodiversity

    Documenting biodiversity in Madagascar.

  • Landscape of New Guinea with Cyathea tree ferns in the foreground


    Researching, safeguarding, identifying and naming Kew's Herbarium specimens from Asia and the Pacific.

  • Pink flower of Acanthaceae lepidagathis floribunda


    Researching, curating and identifying Kew’s collections from the Americas.

  • Auricularia auricula-judae aka jelly ear fungus growing on a tree

    Fungal Diversity and Systematics

    Classifying, describing and naming fungi.

  • Researcher looking at Aloes on the rocks outside of Kew's Alpine House

    Integrated Monography

    Studying the taxonomy, classification and evolution of economically and ecologically important plants.

  • Researcher sat in front of computer screen with phylogenetic tree

    Tree of Life

    Discovering and disseminating the evolutionary history of all plant and fungal genera.