Dr Iain A Darbyshire

Research Leader


Accelerated Taxonomy




Acanthaceae systematics, African plant diversity and conservation, Tropical Important Plant Areas.

I am responsible for developing research projects on the taxonomy, distribution and conservation of African plant species. My taxonomic research focuses upon the Acanthaceae (Acanthus and shrimp plant) family in Africa and Madagascar, with a particular interest in the species-rich genus Barleria. I also have a research interest in the application of plant species data, in particular herbarium collections-based research, to conservation planning and management. On this theme, I am currently co-ordinating Kew’s exciting new cross-departmental programme of work on Tropical Important Plant Areas (TIPAs). Working with our in-country partners, we will identify the most important sites for plant conservation on a national scale and will work to ensure that these findings are incorporated into policy development on conservation and land-use planning. As part of this work, we will conduct extensive field surveys, focusing on under-collected regions and on potential TIPAs for which contemporary data are lacking.

  • PhD, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 2001
  • BSc (Hons) Geography, University of Wales, Aberystwyth, 1997


  • Associate member, IUCN-SSC East African Plant Red List Authority
  • Co-chair, IUCN-SSC Southern African Plant Specialist Group
  • Associate editor, Kew Bulletin

Darbyshire, I., Anderson, S., Asatryan, A., Byfield, A., Cheek, M., Clubbe, C.,  Ghrabi, Z., Harris, T.,  Heatubun, C.D., Kalema, J., Magassouba, S., McCarthy, B., Milliken, W., Montmollin, B. de, Nic Lughadha, E., Onana, J.M., Saıdou, D., Sarbu, A., Shrestha, K. and Radford, E.A. (2017).

Important Plant Areas: revised selection criteria for a global approach to plant conservation.

Biodiversity & Conservation 26: 1767–1800. 

Darbyshire, I., Vollesen, K. and Ensermu K. (2015).

Acanthaceae (Part II).

In J.R. Timberlake & E.S. Martins (eds.) Flora Zambesiaca Vol. 8(6). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 304 pp

Darbyshire, I., Kordofani, M., Farag, I., Candiga, R. and Pickering, H. (2015)

The Plants of Sudan and South SudanAn annotated checklist

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 400 pp

Darbyshire, I., Vollesen, K. and Ensermu K. (2010).

Acanthaceae (Part II).

In: H. Beentje (ed.) Flora of Tropical East Africa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. 470 pp.

Get in touch




+44 (0)20 8332 5407

Google Scholar

Iain Darbyshire