3 Replies to “Kew does crops”

  1. Kew lost its way a bit on agriculture about 120 years ago. As an example of the range of plant products dealt with, the first issue of the Bulletin of Miscellaneous Information of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, in 1887 included reports on: teff; oil of ben; Cape boxwood; hemps (Mauritius, Sisal, Manila etc.); Annatto (Bixa) tree tomato; Choco (Sechium) Arracacia; Mexican whisk; introduction of brazil nut to Australia.

    The second issue (1888) dealt with: colonial fruit; Jamaica India-rubber (Forsteronia floribunda); patchouli; Vanilla; Urera fibre; Tea; Ipecacuanha; Brazilian gum arabic; Shantung cabbage; Job’s tears; Star anise; tea oil; Demerara pink root; Yoruba indigo (Lonchocarpus cyanescens); ramei (Boehmeria nivea); and copal.

    Kew still has an Ecomomic Botany section but my urgent pleas to the then Director and also Keeper of the Herbarium about 25 years ago fell on deaf ears. I urged a strong emphasis on taxonomic monographs of crop wild relatives and pasture species. At the time I was putting together a bibliography (pre-electronic) of the wild relatives of cereals – totally self-funded and with never any sign of sponsorship from anywhere.

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