Mark Nesbitt

Senior Research Leader


Enhanced Partnerships


Interdisciplinary Research


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

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. 

  • 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

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.

Brand, E., Leon, C., Nesbitt, M., Guo, P., Huang, R., Chen, H., Liang, L. & 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.

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 to purchase 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

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Mark Nesbitt