About this site
Grant no's 279981, 279984 & 279970. Period, Nov./Dec. 2010 to Oct./Nov. 2013.
I could have chosen one of the many amazing species in my specialist group, the palm family. However, there is another monocot that is even closer to my heart – Roscoea purpurea forma rubra. This plant was discovered on my first botanical fieldwork, an expedition that I led in 1992 as an undergraduate at Oxford University at the tender age of 20. We had been asked to keep our eyes peeled for specimens of this hardy ginger, but we had never expected to discover a spectacular red form, a flower colour previously unknown in the genus. It is now a highly prized garden plant, usually found under the cultivar name “Red Gurkha”. Incredibly, we then found an entirely new species of Roscoea, R. ganeshensis, at an adjacent site. I will never forget the exhilaration of that first scientific discovery, the sheer satisfaction and the passion ignited to go out and discover more.
Bill Baker leads the palm research programme at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He specialises in the taxonomy and evolution of palms, and leads Palmweb, a web portal to biodiversity information on palms. He contributes to eMonocot through his hands-on experience of web taxonomy and building expert communities as a co-investigator on the Content Board.