My research focuses on the evolution of parasitic and carnivorous plants, and plant diversity in floristic hotspots including the Mediterranean Basin, Macaronesia, Southeast Asia, and Japan. Specifically, I am interested in speciation and adaptive radiations in cryptic parasitic and carnivorous plant groups, as well as taxonomic diversity in biodiversity hotspots. A more recent research focus, working with scientists from other disciplines, is on technological applications of plants, or ‘biomimetics’ (the synthesis of synthetic materials or systems that mimic biological processes).
Examples of live collaborative research projects include:
• Exploring the taxonomy, systematics and uses of the genus Cistanche with Professor Julie Hawkings’ group at the University of Reading, and colleagues in China and the Middle East.
• Investigating the pollination chemistry of aroids with Professor James McCullagh in the Department of Chemistry at the University of Oxford.
• The development of a herbal of Iraq, examining the uses of plants in traditional Islamic Medicine, working with Dr Shahina Ghazanfar at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
• Taxonomic circumscription and conservation in the Canary Islands with Dr Mark Carine at the London Natural History Museum and colleagues in the Canary Islands.
• Biomimetics, technological applications of plants, and the mathematics of plant structures and surfaces with Dr Finn Box and the University of Manchester and Dr Jian Guan at the University of North Carolina; and Professor Alain Goriely and Dr Derek Moulton at the Mathematical Institute at the University of Oxford.
I am an Editor for the Journal Plants People Planet for which I look after the ‘Flora Obscura’ series, and I am responsible for Public Engagement with Research at the Botanic Garden and Arboretum.
Chris won a scholarship in 2005 to carry out his PhD research on speciation in parasitic plants at the University of Bristol, for which he won the Irene Manton Prize for botany in 2009. Chris is a Fellow of the Linnean Society of London.