16Desperately seeking species Kew botanists discovered 295 new plant species last year – Carolyn Fry finds out why this work is so important
Christopher Stocks tracks down Kew’s GIS team, whose innovative maps are a vital resource for botanists working to conserve wild plants
28Ablossoming collection As Kew’s cherry trees burst into bloom, Richard Wilford explores their fascinating history
44Himalayan beauty Richard Wilford uncovers the close links between a Nepalese euphorbia and Wakehurst Place
34Woodland spirit Improving biodiversity at Wakehurst is Iain Parkinson’s top priority, reports Gail Vines
46Naturally selective From abundant bluebells to rare mousetail, Sandra Bell highlights the diversity of Kew’s wildflowers
36Reflections on Tasmania Jo Wenham looks back on a successful seed-collecting trip to this remote Australian island
54Puzzling panels Mystery surrounds Kew’s set of 26 Japanese timber panels, as Mark Nesbitt reveals
Page 36 ,NEIL BRUMMITT
Cover Bombetoka Bay, Madagascar (NASA) – see All mapped out, p22
5 Direction Kew’s director focuses on the importance of conserving biodiversity worldwide
6 Kew news The latest from all Kew’s gardens, including members’ news
12 Cuttings A round-up of plant science news by Stephanie Pain
52 Wakehurst view Andrew Jackson explains how Kew is helping to conserve the rare Plymouth pear
61 Events Lots to do this spring at Kew and Wakehurst Place
72 Last word Archie Miles looks at biodiversity in our native woodlands
Welcome to the first issue of 2010 – the International Year of Biodiversity. Kew, as one of the most biodiverse spots on the planet, is surely one of the best places to celebrate the variety of the natural world and discover the fundamental importance of plants and how much we depend on them. Biodiversity – or biological diversity – is all around us and we rely on this web of living things for our basic survival. Plants underpin our entire existence, from food to fuel, to medicine and fibres, but they also keep our air and water clean and our soil fertile. The celebrations this year remind us that no species lives in isolation – everything is connected and needs to be in balance.
In this issue we celebrate the wonderful work of Kew’s botanists and reveal just how they discovered, collected and named almost 300 new plant species last year. From new coffees and giant yams to tiny aquatic plants and a knee-high Eucalyptus, we take a look at how this is done and why every species is important (see p16). We also head down under and take a tour through the astonishing flora of Tasmania with horticulturist Jo Wenham (on p36). She battled the elements and travelled through some of the country’s most spectacular landscapes to collect seeds for the Wakehurst collections and Millennium Seed Bank. We take a walk in the woods to talk to Iain Parkinson (on p34) about how he manages Wakehurst’s natural areas for native biodiversity, and his plans for the future of the woodlands and meadows there. Meanwhile, renowned writer and photographer Archie Miles gives us his inside view on the state of British woodlands (on p72).
Biodiversity really is something to be celebrated – there’s such wonderful variety in the natural world and we’re all dependent on the mosaic of species that clothes this planet. The healthier and greener our natural habitats are, the better all our lives will be. Why not get involved? Check out Events (on p61), and see www.kew.org and www.biodiversityislife.net for more details.
CHRISTINA HARRISON Editor
Kew magazine 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 Spring 2010 l 3