Botanic Gardens and Genetic Conservation

  • Vernon Heywood University of Reading


No abstract

Author Biography

Vernon Heywood, University of Reading

Professor Vernon Heywood, Emeritus Professor of
Botany at the University of Reading, has had a long
and distinguished career in plant taxonomy and systematics and has trained generations of students who now occupy senior positions in many parts of the world. He is a graduate of the Universities of Edinburgh (BSc, DSc), where he was taught botany at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh under Professor Sir William Wright Smith, and Cambridge (PhD). His publications include the bestselling Flowering Plants of the World and its successor, Flowering Plant Families of the World, and Principles of Angiosperm Taxonomy co-authored with Peter Davis which for decades was the leading text in the field. In addition he has worked extensively on biodiversity and conservation issues in many parts of the world, particularly in the Mediterranean, Indian sub-continent and the Neo-tropics. He was senior consultant to the UK Overseas Development Administration (ODA /DFIC) on the building and equipment of a new National Herbarium in Dhaka, Bangladesh and a staff training and development programme.
During the past 20 years he has been especially concerned with developing strategies for the
conservation of germplasm of wild species of economic importance, including the wild relatives of
crop plants and medicinal and aromatic plants. He has been closely involved with botanic gardens throughout his career and was the founder director of the Botanic Gardens Conservation Secretariat (later Botanic Gardens Conservation International). During a period at IUCN, as Chief Scientist, he was responsible for developing a plant conservation programme and directed projects on centres of plant diversity, extinction rates in tropical forests, species reactions to global change, medicinal plant conservation and wild relatives of crop species. He co-ordinated and edited the UNEP Global Biodiversity Assessment, involving the collaboration of hundreds of scientists. He has served as a consultant for numerous agencies such as the World Bank Inspection Panel, UNDP, UNEP, FAO
and Biodiversity International, and has advised governments, ministries, universities and NGOs in
many parts of the world, including Bangladesh, Costa Rica, France, Greece, Guatemala, Honduras, India, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Morocco, Nicaragua, Spain, Sri Lanka and Venezuela on conservation and biodiversity issues and on botanic garden development. He has published over 65 books and is the author of 400 papers in scientific journals.


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BGCI (1998). Seed Banks. Available at: (Accessed: June 2009)

BÖCHER,T.W. & HJERTING , J.P. (1964). Utilization of Seeds from Botanical Gardens in Biosystematic Studies. Taxon 13: 95–98.

BRUMMITT, N., BACHMAN, S.P. & MOAT , J. (2008). Applications of the IUCN Red List: towards a global barometer for plant diversity. Endangered Species Research 6: 127–135.

CLEMENTE MUÑOZ, M. (1994). Los Indices Seminum de los Jardines Botánicos de la Asociación Ibero-Macaronésica. Amaranto 4: 14–21.

CLEMENTE MUÑOZ, M. & HERNANDE Z BERMEJO, J.E. (1990). Seed exchange experience of a germplasm bank in the Mediterranean area, pp. 115–117. In: Hernández Bermejo, J.E., Clemente MUÑOZ, M. & Heywood, V. (Eds.) Conservation Techniques in Botanic Gardens. Koeltz, Koeningstein.

DIXON, K. (2007). The science-living collections continuum in botanic gardens. Sibbaldia 5: 5–14.

FRANKEL, O.H. (1974). Genetic conservation: our evolutionary responsibility. Genetics 78: 53–65.

HAWKES, J.G., MAXTED, N. & FORD-LLOYD, B.V. (2000). The Ex Situ Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht.

HAMILTON , M.G. (1994). Ex Situ Conservation of Wild Plant Species: Time to Reassess the Genetic Assumptions and Implications of Seed Banks. Conservation Biology 8: 39–49.

HEYWOOD, V.H. (1964a). Seed Lists and Taxonomy. Taxon 13: 94–95.

HEYWOOD, V.H. (1964b). List of Botanic Gardens offering spontaneous seed. Taxon 13: 137–142.

HEYWOOD, V.H. (1987). The role of seed lists in botanic gardens today. In: Simmons, J.B. et al. (Eds.) Conservation of Threatened Plants. Plenum Press, New York.

HEYWOOD, V.H. (1999). The role of botanic gardens in ex situ conservation of agrobiodiversity. In: Gass, T., Frese, L., Begemann, F. & Lipman, E. (Eds.) Implementation of the Global Plan of Action in Europe – Conservation and Sustainable Utilization of Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture. Proceedings of the European Symposium, 30 June–3 July 1988, Braunschweig, Germany. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome, pp. 102–107.

HEYWOOD, V.H. (2002). The future of botanic gardens – challenges and conflicts. In: Jardins Botânicos. Que perspectivo para o futuro? Actas VII Simpósio da Associação Ibero-Macaronésica de Jardins Botânicos. 24 a 26 Jilho 2002, Auditorio da Lagao Branca, Tapada da Ajuda, Lisboa, Instituto Superior de Agronomia, Lisboa, 11–21, 2002.

HEYWOOD, V. (2003). Conservation and sustainable use of wild species as sources of new ornamentals. In: Düzyaman, E. & Tüzel, Y. (Eds.) Proceedings of the International Symposium on Sustainable Use of Plant Biodiversity to Promote New Opportunities for Horticultural Production Development, Acta Horticulturae Number 598: 43–53.

HEYWOOD, V.H. (2007). The use and economic potential of wild species: an overview. Chapter 43 In: Maxted, N., Ford-Lloyd, B. V., Kell, S. P., Iriondo, J. M., Dulloo, M. E. & Turok, J. (Eds.), Crop Wild Relative Conservation and Use. CABI, Wallingford.

HEYWOOD, V.H. & DULLOO, M.E. (2006) [2005]. In situ Conservation of Wild Plant Species – a Critical Global Review of Good Practices. IPGRI Technical Bulletin No. 11. FAO & IPGRI. IPGRI, Rome (2006).

HOWARD, R.A., GREEN, P.S., BA KER, H.G. & YEO, P.F. (1964). Comments on “seed lists”. Taxon 13: 90–84.

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LAGUNA , E., FERRER, P.P. & MARZO, A. (2008) Bancos de germoplasma de hábitats, una nueva propuesta para la conservación ex situ. Conservación Vegetal 12: 9–11.

LALIBERT É, B. (1997). Botanic garden seed banks/genebanks worldwide, their facilities, collections and network. Botanic Gardens Conservation News 2: 18–23.

LININGTON , S.H., TENNER, C. & SMITH, R.D. (2003). Seed banks: ex situ is not out of place. Biologist 50: 202–207.

MAUNDER , M., GUERRANT JR., E.O., HAVENS, K. & DIXON, K.W. (2004). Realizing the full potential of ex situ contributions to global plant conservation. In: Guerrant Jr. E.O., Havens, K. & Maunder, M. (Eds.) Ex Situ Plant Conservation. Supporting species survival in the wild. Island Press, Washington DC. Millennium Seed Bank Project. Available at: (Accessed: 9 March 2009)

NEWTON , A.C. & OLDFIELD, S. (2008). Red Listing the world’s tree species: a review of recent progress. Endangered Species Research 6: 137–147.

SCHOEN, D.J. & BRO WN, A.H.D. (2001). The conservation of wild plant species in seed banks. BioScience 51: 960–966.

THOMPSON, P.A. (1970). Seed banks as a means of improving the quality of seed Lists. Taxon 19: 59–67.

WIELAND, G. D. (1995). Guidelines for the management of orthodox seeds. Center for Plant Conservation, St. Louis, MO.

YEO, P. F. & KING, C. J. (1965). Methods of Seed-Exchange: An Appeal to Botanic Gardens.

How to Cite
Heywood, V. (2009). Botanic Gardens and Genetic Conservation. Sibbaldia: The International Journal of Botanic Garden Horticulture, (7), 5-18.