The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Introducing The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew! Nestled on the outskirts of London, it’s known internationally as a world leader in plant science. In fact, it is one of the most biodiverse places on earth, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and holds the key to unlocking the true potential of real botanicals for our lives today and our world tomorrow.
Every day, Kew scientists working in more than 115 countries across the globe use their botanical expertise to identify plants and study their uses. Kew’s unrivalled collections have around eight and a half million items, including seven million dried plants, 1.25 million dried fungi, a living collection of over 19,000 plant species and the world’s largest wild plant DNA and tissue bank. So now you can see why they’re true experts!
Every year nearly two million people make the trip to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Wakehurst, Kew’s wild botanic garden in Sussex, to enjoy everything they have to offer and learn about why plants are so important to our lives.
Watch the documentary created by National Geographic, ‘Secrets of the Garden’
Exploring the gardens
At Kew, you’ll find 300 acres of incredible greenery and over 260 years of history, where scientists work year-round to unlock the secrets and potential of real botanicals. The iconic Temperate House is a ‘must’ to experience at Kew. It’s the world’s largest remaining Victorian glasshouse, protecting 10,000 rare and endangered plants from all over the world.
Visually beautiful and lush, its pathways guide visitors around species of plants from Africa, Australia, New Zealand, the Americas, Asia and the Pacific Islands. Other ‘must see’ features at Kew include the Palm House, a smaller but equally beautiful glasshouse containing a ‘rainforest’ of tropical plants, the Princess of Wales Conservatory, with its living display of aloes and the Arboretum, which has 14,000 trees and more than 2,000 species, covering every country and every continent in the world.
Whilst the public can enjoy these sublime gardens, behind the scenes the Herbarium is at the heart of the science at Kew. It contains an estimated seven million different dried plants samples that reflect the diversity of plants on Earth, a collection that is growing every year. When they are compared with current botanicals, these samples help Kew to understand plant evolution and conservation.
Seeds of the future…
Kew’s wild botanic garden at Wakehurst is also home to the hugely important Millennium Seed Bank. Set up in 2000, it is a global storage facility for wild endangered seeds and acts as a kind of ‘back-up plan’ for biodiversity, with more than 2 billion seeds stored there already which represents 10 per cent of the world’s plant diversity.
The idea behind the seed bank is that if needed, seeds can be provided to regenerate plant life in a given area of the world. This might happen in the event of a natural or man-made disaster or extreme climate change and means there is a way to make sure species don’t become extinct. The seed bank also sends out over 1,000 samples each year to teams across the world carrying out research into human development.
Scientists hard at work
Incredibly, there are over 350 scientists and botanists working at Kew. Their research is wide ranging, from the discovery and identification of new species, to the impact of climate change on threatened habitats. They want to help people to understand the importance of plants and fungi and the role they play in protecting life on our planet, which is why they are so interested in plant evolution, diversity and conservation.
They know that by studying plant life and how it responds to outside factors like climate change and diseases, they can uncover the secret power of real botanicals within plants to help with everything from food, to medicine, clothing and fuel.
Plants have fingerprints, just like us!
Just like us, plants have their own fingerprints that help the scientists at Kew to ‘read’ their biological make up. This helps them to identify and authenticate the quality of botanicals in plants that are found in nature.
Using the fingerprint, scientists can understand the useful ingredients within the plant, advise on the perfect time to extract them and asses their quality, which is exactly what Kew scientists are doing to verify the quality of botanical ingredients in bottles of Herbal Essences bio:renew.
Kew’s Partnership with Herbal Essences
Herbal Essences is the first global hair care brand to be endorsed by Kew, a world-leading authority on plants and their importance in our lives. Together, we celebrate beauty rooted in plant science and share a belief in the power of real botanicals. Herbal Essences continues to harness these to help women everywhere have healthy looking and vibrant hair.
With so much scientific knowledge, Kew is perfectly positioned to test and identify the botanical ingredients in the Herbal Essences bio:renew formula, which has 90 percent natural origin*. The bio:renew botanical blend contains Aloe, Sea Kelp and Histidine, a powerful anti-oxidant born from a plant, which has been found to protect hair at its core and help fight water impurities. The identification by Kew means that consumers can be sure they are getting quality extracts in their Herbal Essences bio:renew shampoos and conditioners!
Watch the documentary created by National Geographic, 'Secrets of the Garden’, to find out more about what happens behind the scenes at Kew and the ground-breaking partnership with Herbal Essences.
*Purified water and natural-source ingredient materials with limited processing.