Dr Richard Gornall

Honorary Curator of the Herbarium

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology, Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 271 2933



Richard Gornall obtained a degree in botany from the University of St Andrews in 1975 and a PhD in plant taxonomy from the University of British Columbia in 1980.

Since then Dr Gornall has worked at the University of Leicester Botanic Garden, initially as curator before becoming the director in 1999.

Following his retirement in 2022, Dr Gornall was awarded an honorary associate professorship and is honorary curator of the Herbarium.


Dr Gornall’s research concerns plant systematics and evolution.

Current projects include:
  • Systematic, evolutionary and floristic studies of the Saxifragaceae
  • Taxonomic monograph of Saxifraga (~500 species)
  • Studies of gene flow and genetic diversity in aquatic species
  • Preparation of a genetical flora of the British Isles, for use as a conservation tool
  • GeneBank55: conservation of the flora of vice-county 55 (Leicestershire and Rutland)



MC Henniges, RF Powell, S Mian, CA Stace, KJ Walker, RJ Gornall, MJM Christenhusz, MR Brown, AD Twyford, PM Hollingsworth, L Jones, N de Vere, A Antonelli, AR Leitch and IJ Leitch. A taxonomic, genetic and ecological data resource for the vascular plants of Britain and Ireland. Scientific Data 2022 9:1

T Schwarzacher, V Scrocca, K Johnson and RJ Gornall. Speciation in Callitriche (Plantaginaceae): the allopolyploid origin of C. platycarpa. New Journal of Botany 2016 6(2-3):98-101

D Viana, J Figuerola, K Schwenk, M Manca, A Hobaek, M Mjelde, CD Preston, RJ Gornall, J Croft, R King, A Green and L SantamarĀ­a. Assembly mechanisms determining high species turnover in aquatic communities over regional and continental scales. Ecography 2016 39:281-288.

Q-B Gao, Y Li, RJ Gornall, Z-X Zhang, F Zhang, R Xing, P Fu, J Wang, H Liu, Z Tian and S Chen. Phylogeny and speciation in Saxifraga sect. Ciliatae (Saxifragaceae): evidence from psbA-trnH, trnL-F and ITS sequences. Taxon 2015 64(4):703-713.

Z-X Zhang, S-L Chen and RJ Gornall. Morphology and anatomy of the exine in Saxifraga (Saxifragaceae). Phytotaxa 2015 212(2):1-28.

Z-X Zhang, N-H Xia and RJ Gornall. Leaf venation patterns in the genus Saxifraga (Saxifragaceae). Phytotaxa 2015 221(2):123-136.

RJ Gornall, JE Wentworth and ST Bennett. Loss of rRNA loci in autotetraploid Parnassia palustris (Celastraceae). New Journal of Botany 2011 1(1):33-37.

RA King, RJ Gornall, CD Preston and JM Croft. Population differentiation of Potamogeton pectinatus in the Baltic Sea with reference to waterfowl dispersal. Molecular Ecology 2002 11(10):1947-1956.

DE Soltis, RK Kuzoff, E Conti, RJ Gornall and K Ferguson. matK and rbcL gene sequence data indicate that Saxifraga (Saxifragaceae) is polyphyletic. American Journal of Botany 1996 83(3):371-382.

DA Webb and RJ Gornall. Saxifrages of Europe. Christopher Helm, London, 1989. ISBN:9780747034070



  • Fellow of the Linnean Society (1987>)
  • President of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland (2005-2008)
  • Honorary member of the Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland
  • Editor of Watsonia (1982-1991) and New Journal of Botany (2011-2015)


  • Linnean Society Bicentenary Medal, 1988
  • Visiting Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Xining), 2011-2012

Media coverage

GeneBank55 was featured on BBC's Countryfile programme in 2018.


  • BSc, Botany, University of St Andrews, 1975
  • MSc, Plant genetic resources, University of Birmingham, 1976
  • PhD, Plant taxonomy, University of British Columbia, 1980
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