Mark Nesbitt

Senior Research Leader, Economic Botany


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: 
  • 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: 

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. Available online

Brennan, E., Harris, L.-A. & Nesbitt, M. (2013). Jamaican lace-bark: its history and uncertain future. Textile History 44: 235–253. Available online