Illuminating the hidden kingdom of the truffle

12 Feb 2018

Truffles are one of the world’s most expensive ingredients, and also one of the most mysterious. Now, with the help of a 170-year-old ‘living laboratory’, and a dog called Lucy, researchers hope to unearth new understanding of the secret life of these underground delicacies.

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Petals produce a 'blue halo' that helps bees find flowers

18 Oct 2017

New study finds “messy” microscopic structures on petals of some flowers manipulate light to produce a blue colour effect that is easily seen by bee pollinators. Researchers say these petal grooves evolved independently multiple times across flowering plants, but produce the same result: a floral halo of blue-to-ultraviolet light.

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World's botanic gardens contain a third of all known plant species, and help protect the most threatened

25 Sep 2017

The most in-depth species survey to date finds an “astonishing array” of plant diversity in the global botanic garden network, including 41% of all endangered species. However, researchers find a significant imbalance between tropical and temperate plants, and say even more capacity should be given to conservation, as there is “no technical reason for plant species to become extinct”.

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Return of the Titan

20 Jun 2017

Cambridge University Botanic Garden is awaiting the Return of the Titan. One of the two Titan Arums held in the Garden’s collection of plants will very soon produce another huge, magnificent flower along with the noxious smell that accompanies it. 

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‘Glue’ that makes plant cell walls strong could hold the key to wooden skyscrapers

21 Dec 2016

Molecules 10,000 times narrower than the width of a human hair could hold the key to making possible wooden skyscrapers and more energy-efficient paper production, according to research published today in the journal Nature Communications. The study, led by a father and son team at the Universities of Warwick and Cambridge, solves a long-standing mystery of how key sugars in cells bind to form strong, indigestible materials.

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