Identification and Naming

Species discovery, naming and curation, and undertaking accurate taxonomy - the bedrock on which all of Kew’s pure and applied science is based.

Researchers in Herbarium looking at specimens

Head of the department: Dr Timothy M A Utteridge  
Assistant head of department: Dr Martin Cheek

Comprising four teams - Africa & Madagascar, Americas, Asia, and Mycology -  the Identification and Naming department undertakes fundamental taxonomic research and curation.

We are directly responsible for the Herbarium and Fungarium specimens, global exploration and inventories, developing innovative projects to address Kew’s research questions.

Department priorities

  • ​Improving the value of the collections through optimising accurate naming and curation, undertaking fundamental taxonomic research, monographing species-rich and ecologically important but poorly known groups, and improving the linkages between taxonomic knowledge and its applications. 
  • The discovery, description and identification of biodiversity especially through intensifying existing efforts on tropical regions where plant and fungal diversity is high. 
  • Continuing the global inventory of species and the production of Floras and eFloras in collaboration with international partners, with maximum coverage for Kew’s focal regions. 
  • Driving forward e-taxonomy and new technologies for accelerating the speed at which new species descriptions are made accessible to the global scientific community. 
  • Communicating our specialist knowledge through teaching, courses and outreach, whilst providing assistance to non-specialists, citizen science and communities, through development of user-friendly identification guides in printed and electronic form. 

Department teams

  • Monodora myristica

    Africa and Madagascar team

    Research, curation, safeguarding, identifying and naming of specimens from Africa and Madagascar. Our main focal countries for research are Guinea, Cameroon, Uganda and Mozambique.

  • Pink flower of Acanthaceae lepidagathis floribunda

    Americas team

    Curating specimens from the Americas (from North to South Pole); research in Central and South America, especially Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia (a Tropically Important Plant Area) and Brazil.

  • Bulbophyllum adolinae, orchid

    Asia team

    We research, curate, safeguard, identify and name specimens from Asia and the Pacific. Our research is specimen-based and mostly in Malesia, particularly in Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea and Thailand.

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

    Mycology team

    We classify, describe and name all fungi with a focus on British and Malagasy taxa and Cortinariaceae. We also study Colombian fungi and the evolution of Agaricales within the Plants and Fungal Tree of Life project.