Martin Cheek

Senior Research Leader, Identification and Naming (Africa and Madagascar)


I lead the Africa and Madagascar team within Kew’s Identification and Naming department. We undertake fundamental taxonomic research and botanical inventories of underexplored areas, resulting in the discovery of hundreds of species new to science, the publication of baseline taxonomic treatments and the evaluation of the conservation status of thousands of species. We are also responsible for curating a large portion of Kew's Herbarium collections. Immediate beneficiaries of our work include government agencies and non-governmental organisations designating and managing protected areas as well as land managers in the extractive industries tasked with mitigating their impacts on biodiversity rich areas. Long-term beneficiaries include all those wishing to understand, conserve and use the plants of Africa and Madagascar.

My own research is focussed on the floristics of West and Congolian Africa, especially Cameroon and Guinea.


Qualifications and appointments: 
  • BSc (Hons), Univ. Reading, 1981
  • MSc, Univ. Reading, 1983
  • DPhil, Univ. Oxford, 1989
  • Chair, cross-departmental team for Wet Tropics Africa
  • Scientific and Horticultural Publications Committee (RBG Kew)


Selected publications: 

Cheek, M., Kami, E. & Kami, T. (2014). Baphia vili sp. nov. (Leguminosae-Papilionoideae) of coastal thicket of the Congo Republic and Gabon.Willdenowia 44: 39-44 (published online 10 March 2014). Available online

Cheek, M., Challen, G., Merklinger, & Molmou, D. (2013). Breynia disticha, a new invasive alien for Tropical Africa. Aliens 33: 32-34. 230. Available online

Cheek, M. & Lachenaud, O. (2013). Psychotria elephantina sp. nov. (Rubiaceae) an endangered rainforest shrub from Cameroon. Nordic J. Bot.31(5): 569-573. Available online

Onana, J.-M. & Cheek, M. (2011). Red Data Book of the Flowering Plants of Cameroon: IUCN Global Assessments. RBG, Kew. 578pp Available online

Cheek, M., Pollard, B. J., Darbyshire, I., Onana, J-M. & Wild, C. (2004). The Plants of Kupe, Mwanenguba and the Bakossi Mts, Cameroon. A Conservation Checklist. RBG, Kew. 508 pp 212. Available online