16 Saving a world of seeds Gail Vines meets Clare Trivedi, whose work for the Millennium Seed Bank Project is helping to safeguard species worldwide
18 Life in the freezer Sally Nex discovers how seeds are prepared for storage in the Millennium Seed Bank’s vault
24 Wisdom of the Kalahari Richard Scrase reports on efforts to conserve seeds and traditional plant knowledge in Botswana
30 Having a whale of a time Botanist Marie Briggs braves the icy winds and fierce seals of remote South Georgia, in search of native and non-native plants
36 The blossoming of an arboretum Tony Kirkham chronicles the development of the outstanding tree collection at Castle Howard
42 Natural healers Gail Vines focuses on research being carried out at Kew into the healing powers ofwild plants
48 Rich jewels of autumn Richard Wilford looks at the vibrant berries that light up the Gardens at this time of year
59 Creatures great and small Photographer Heather Angel presents spectacular views of Kew’s wildlife in her latest book
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Cover An X-ray of a Kentucky coffee tree seed pod in the Millennium Seed Bank, by James King-Holmes/SPL (see Life in the freezer, p18)
5 Direction The director celebrates the achievements of the Millennium Seed Bank Project
6 Kew news The latest from all Kew’s gardens, including Friends’ news
12 Cuttings Around-up of plant science news
55 Wakehurst view Saving the seedsof the UK’s rare native Sorbustrees
57 Wild Kew What’s been on the wing in the Gardens this summer?
63 Events Lots to do this autumn at Kew and Wakehurst Place
72 Last word Why should we try to puta monetary value on biodiversity?
As summer rushes to an end, so Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank Project (MSBP) is hastening towards its target ofhaving collected the seeds of ten per cent of the world’s plant species. In this issue we celebrate the importance of this fantastic achievement.
Travel with us to Botswana (p24) and South Georgia (p30) to read about seed collecting and how staff work with international partners, meet Clare Trivedi, one of the dedicated people who make the whole process happen (p16), and see just what a seed has to go through to end up in the seed bank’s freezing vaults (p18).
The ten per cent target was set in 2000 when the MSBP was formed, and with this accomplishment in sight, a new target now looms – 25 per cent by 2020. The plans for the future are impressive, especially in these current times, and when the number ofknown plant species is constantly increasing – 25 per cent is now a larger total than it was in 2000. Paul Smith, head of the MSBP, has the Last word on the future of the Project on page 72.
As one of the world’s most ambitious conservation projects, the MSBP holds at its heart the truth that in a seed there is a world of opportunity. If the articles in this issue whet your appetite, you can find a host of detailed information at www.kew.org – take a look and get involved with the Save a Species campaign, it could be the most important thing you do today.
CHRISTINA HARRISON Editor
Kewmagazine is published by the Royal Botanic Gardens,Kew, which works around the world to save plants, fungi and their habitats. With your support,Kew can make a real difference.
KEW Autumn 2009 l 3