Dr Mark Nesbitt

Senior Research Leader




Economic Botany


Ethnobotany, archaeobotany, useful plants, exploration, collections, museums, history, humanities, barkcloth, medicinal plants

Biography Plus

Research into useful plants informed by Kew's collections, science strategy and heritage. Research portfolio includes plant fibres (barkcloth, textiles, basketry), medicinal plants and the history of useful plants and botanical institutions in the last 200 years. Strong collaborative links with universities, including AHRC-funded research projects with the University of Glasgow, and Royal Holloway, and Newton-funded work with Birkbeck College. I carry out postgraduate teaching with these, and Camberwell, University of the Arts, the Royal College of Art, and the Institute of Archaeology, University College London.

Curation of the Economic Botany Collection, including managing acquisitions, conservation, loans, sampling and hosting of researchers. 

Qualifications and appointments Plus
  • BSc, Agricultural Botany, Univ. Reading, 1983.
  • MSc, Bioarchaeology, Univ. London, 1984.
  • PhD, Univ. College London, 1997.
  • Visiting Professor, Department of Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London.
  • Honorary Senior Lecturer, Institute of Archaeology, UCL.
  • Honorary Research Fellow, Department of Anthropology, University of Kent.
  • Editorial Board, Pharmaceutical Historian.
  • Editorial Board, Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.
  • Committee, British Society for the History of Pharmacy.
  • Honorary Research Fellow, Art History, University of Glasgow.
  • Fellow of the Linnean Society
Selected publications Plus

Cabalzar, A., Stern da Fonseca Kruel, V., Martins, L., Milliken, W.  & Nesbitt, M. (eds). 2017

Manual de Etnobotânica: Plantas, artefatos e Conhecimentos Indígenas 

Instituto Socioambiental, São Paulo. Available online

Brand, E., Leon, C., Nesbitt, M., Guo, P., Huang, R., Chen, H., Liang, L. and Zhao, Z., 2017

Economic botany collections: A source of material evidence for exploring historical changes in Chinese medicinal materials

Journal of Ethnopharmacology 200: 209-227. Available online

Nesbitt, M., Bates, J., Hillman, G. & Mitchell, S. 2017

The Archaeobotany of Aşvan: Environment & Cultivation in Eastern Anatolia from the Chalcolithic to the Medieval Period

London: British Institute at Ankara, Monograph 33

Nesbitt, M. & C. Cornish. 2016

Seeds of industry and empire: economic botany collections between nature and culture

Journal of Museum Ethnography 29: 53-70

Salick, J., Konchar, K. & Nesbitt, M. (eds) (2014)

Curating biocultural collections: a handbook

Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Available online

Cornish, C., Gasson, P. & Nesbitt, M. (2014)

The wood collection (xylarium) of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

IAWA Journal 35: 85-104

Brennan, E., Harris, L.-A. & Nesbitt, M. (2013)

Jamaican lace-bark: its history and uncertain future

Textile History 44: 235–253

Projects Plus
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020 8332 5386

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Mark Nesbitt