Dr Richard Gornall

Director of the Botanic Garden & Curator of the Herbarium

School/Department: Genetics and Genome Biology, Department of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 271 2933



I obtained my first degree in Botany at the University of St Andrews (1975) and a PhD in plant taxonomy from the University of British Columbia (1980). Since then I have worked at the University of Leicester Botanic Garden initially as Curator (1980) and then as Director (1999). I am also Curator of the Herbarium.


Plant systematics and evolution. Current projects include:
• systematic, evolutionary and floristic studies of the Saxifragaceae
• taxonomic monograph of Saxifraga (c500 spp.)
• 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



Henniges, M. C., Powell, R. F., Mian, S., Stace, C. A., Walker, K. J., Gornall, R. J., Christenhusz, M. J. M., Brown, M. R., Twyford, A. D., Hollingsworth, P. M., Jones, L., de Vere, N., Antonelli, A., Leitch, A. R. & Leitch, I. J. (2022) A taxonomic, genetic and ecological data resource for the vascular plants of Britain and Ireland. Scientific Data 9: 1 |

Schwarzacher, T., Scrocca, V., Johnson, K. & Gornall, R. J. (2016 [2017]) Speciation in Callitriche (Plantaginaceae): the allopolyploid origin of C. platycarpa. New J. Bot. 6(2-3): 98-101.

Viana, D., Figuerola, J., Schwenk, K., Manca, M., Hobaek, A., Mjelde, M., Preston, C. D., Gornall, R. J., Croft, J., King, R., Green, A. & SantamarĀ­a, L. (2015 [2016]) Assembly mechanisms determining high species turnover in aquatic communities over regional and continental scales. Ecography 39: 281-288.

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

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

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

Gornall, R. J., Wentworth, J. E. & Bennett, S. T. (2011) Loss of rRNA loci in autotetraploid Parnassia palustris (Celastraceae). New J. Bot. 1(1): 33-37.

King, R. A., Gornall, R. J., Preston, C. D. & Croft, J. M. (2002) Population differentiation of Potamogeton pectinatus in the Baltic Sea with reference to waterfowl dispersal. Mol. Ecol. 11(10): 1947-1956.

Soltis, D. E., Kuzoff, R. K., Conti, E., Gornall, R. J. & Ferguson, K. (1996) matK and rbcL gene sequence data indicate that Saxifraga (Saxifragaceae) is polyphyletic. Amer. J. Bot. 83(3): 371-382.

Webb, D. A. & Gornall, R. J. (1989) Saxifrages of Europe. London, C. Helm.



Plant taxonomy and evolution


I teach in all three years of the BSc Biological Sciences degree programme.
Year 1: Adaptation & diversity
Year 2: Field guide to evolution
Year 3: student projects
I also teach a course in Plant Identification, based at the Botanic Garden, aimed at professionals and interested members of the public.

Press and media

Plant diversity


Fellow of the Linnean Society (1987>)
President of the Botanical Society of Britain & Ireland (2005-2008)
Honorary member of the Botanical Society of Britain & 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.


B.Sc. Botany (St Andrews, 1980)
M.Sc. Plant genetic resources (Birmingham, 1976)
Ph.D. Plant taxonomy (British Columbia, 1980)
Back to top