Ecological and Environmental Change Research Group
Kathy's radio programme

Plants: From Roots to Riches

Kathy Willis, Director of Science of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, Professor of Biodiversity at the University of Oxford, and Professor II in the EECRG is presenting a radio series on BBC Radio 4 entitled Plants: From Roots to Riches.

Professor Kathy Willis in front of the greenhouse at Kew Gardens
Professor Kathy Willis in front of the main greenhouse at Kew Gardens

The series of 25 15-minute recordings is broadcast every week-day from 21 July to 22 August and can be accessed through the BBC Radio 4 website and discusses the changing relationships with plants over the last 250 years from things to exploit, to objects of beauty, to being an essential resource we have to conserve.

As Kathy Willis says about the series "It is an absolute privilege to be able to take this journey of discovery and tell the story of people and plants over the past 250 years. Britain’s botanical heritage is incredibly rich in compelling, memorable tales of adventure and discovery, politics and conflict, breathtaking beauty and, ultimately, our dependency on plants. I hope this series will encourage listeners to look at plants in a new light. Our future depends on us adapting in order to live in better balance with the natural world, and plants have some of the answers to help us do that and address global challenges that we are faced with on a daily basis."

Each programme is full of fascinating botanical and historical information, such as Beatrix Potter being one of the first people to try to create a lichen by culturing algae and fungi together.

Kathy and Carolyn Fry have written a book to accompany the series.