Kew Magazine - Summer 2010
k e w news
Seeds take centre stage at World Expo Formed from 60,000 transparent rods that quiver in the breeze, the spectacular UK Pavilion – or Seed Cathedral – is drawing in the crowds at the Shanghai World Expo. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the building is a striking, visual demonstration of the UK as a creative and innovative nation.
The 60,000 swaying rods, each with seeds at the tip, resemble a dandelion clock
Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Partnership (MSBP) provides the central theme for the Pavilion and it has played a fundamental role in the project. Tens of thousands of seeds, chosen by Kew’s Wolfgang Stuppy and his collaborator Jie Cai, are encased in the ends of the acrylic rods. The Germplasm Bank of Wild Species at the Kunming Institute of Botany – a partner of the MSBP – supplied the seeds, which highlight both useful and threatened plant species, including the soya bean, sacred lotus, coffee and rubber.
Each rod acts like a fibre-optic filament, drawing in daylight to illuminate the interior. At night, light sources embedded in the rods allow the Seed Cathedral to glow.
The Expo runs until 31 October and is expected to attract 70 million visitors.
Find out much more by searching for Shanghai Expo at www.kew.org, or go to www.ukshanghaiexpo.com.
Big success with tiny waterlily
6 l KEW Summer 2010
In an important breakthrough, seeds of the world’s smallest waterlily have been germinated by Kew’s Carlos Magdalena, and successfully grown on to produce 30 thriving plants. Nymphaea thermarum, from Rwanda, is thought to be extinct in the wild, as its habitat, in the mud around hot springs, has been lost due to over-exploitation of water sources. Until now, only very few seeds had been germinated, and the plants had failed to reach maturity.
This impressive achievement highlights the importance of ex-situ conservation, as it is now likely that a viable wild population can be created from Kew’s collection. The species also has great ornamental potential – being a dwarf waterlily that doesn’t need a pond.
Find out more at www.kew.org, and read about Kew’s important ex-situ conservation work in Botanic Gardens: modern-day arks by Sara Oldfield, on sale in the Kew shop at £24.99.
Thanks to Carlos Magdalena’s work, Kew has 30 new Nymphaea thermarum www.kew.org/newswww.kew.org/news