Commercial Phytochemistry Unit

Providing unique expertise for the evaluation of the uses of plants and fungi as well as the authentication of botanical and fungal extracts used commercially.

Hand holding eucalyptus leaves next to pestle and mortar

Phytochemistry is the chemistry of plants and plant products.

The Commercial Phytochemistry Unit (CPU) is a dedicated unit of scientists using their expertise to explore the uses and chemistry of plants and fungi for their commercial potential as well as the identification of plants in commercial products.

A one-stop resource for information about the chemistry of plants and fungi and their current and potential uses, our expert team of scientist work with industries, regulators, and research institutes worldwide to scientifically evaluate the traditional and novel uses of plants and fungi, authenticate (ensure fit for purpose) and identify the quality of plant and fungal entering the trade.  

Our work spans:

  • Functional and novel foods for humans and animals
  • Food supplements and drinks
  • Dyes, cosmetics and fragrances
  • Identification of herbs in drug-herb interaction and to support forensic enquiries
  • New sources of plants and compounds for product development
  • Medicinal plants, including plants and fungi used in traditional medical systems such as Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and Ayurvedic Medicine. 

We also undertake targeted investigations for active compounds for drug or product development, with a focus on cosmetics, insect control, antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activity for people as well as animals. 

What we offer

  • Research & Development (R&D) - Research leading to the selection and identification of plant and fungal extracts for specialised uses.  New Ingredients.
  • Authentication - Confirmation of the identity and quality of commercial plant/fungal extracts.
  • Innovation - Protocol development and validation of analytical methods.
     

Resources available 

Our research utilises a range of analytical instruments including high and low-resolution LC-MS (Thermo, Velos Pro & Orbitrap Fusion), GC-MS, HPLC (semi-preparative and analytical), IR and NMR (400 MHz, Bruker). Including neural networking methods to support the identification of target compounds.

Clients and partners of the CPU have access to the world renowned plant and fungal collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, specialist expertise in natural product as well as expert knowledge on the distribution of plants, their systematic relationships, their conservation status and sustainable supply. 

Our collection includes access to:

We work in line with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), particularly in relation to the Nagoya Protocol and Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Who we are

Director of Commercial Phytochemistry Unit

Professor Monique Simmonds OBE

Natural Product Chemists

Esther Grosskopf
Dr Federico Padilla
Dr Nicholas Sadgrove
Dr Rui Fang

Interns

Abigail Rosseli
Alison Green
Piya Rajendra

Administrative support

Anabel Evans
Elizabeth Howard
 

Get in touch

We can work with you to develop innovative and high-quality plant/fungal-based products. Contact us to discuss your needs and requirements: cpu@kew.org

  • People in a lab

    Small Molecule Analysis Laboratory

    This laboratory is equipped to analyse and identify the secondary metabolites produced by plants and fungi.

  • Global partnerships and collaborations

    Partnering with us helps companies and organisations deliver science-based plant conservation worldwide.