Dr Mark Spencer is an experienced and internationally respected botanist. His expertise covers many disciplines including forensic botany, the plants of North-west Europe, invasive species and the history of botanical science. He also works globally as a seasoned writer, public speaker and television presenter. As a forensic botanist, Mark has worked on various missing person enquiries, murders and other serious crimes.


With several decades experience of studying plants, Dr Mark Spencer has worked and studied at some of the UK’s most important botanical organisations. Currently he is a consultant botanist specialising in several fields, particularly forensic botany (the use of plants as evidence in serious crime), botanical surveys, curation & museology. Originally a horticulturist, he studied at the world-famous Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. He later studied botany at the University of Reading. Mark remained at Reading to do a PhD in the evolution of plant pathogenic fungi. After University he returned to London where he surveyed the capital’s wild plants on behalf of the Greater London Authority. He then spent over 12 years working for the prestigious Natural History Museum, London where he gained an international reputation as an expert in many aspects of botany, collections management and gallery development. In his personal life he is busy coordinating a major project to document the flora of London on behalf of the London Natural History Society and is The Botanical Society of Britain and Ireland’s vice-county recorder for Middlesex. In his spare time, he either tends his garden and allotment on the Isle of Wight or can be found in the back streets of London looking for plants or fungi.


Plants Hold Secrets

I have been observing plants in our landscape for over 30 years. This experience has informed my approach to using plants as a means of investigating serious crime. I have been working as a forensic botanist since 2008 and have worked on over 30 murder, arson, burglary, sexual and violent crimes as a well as domestic terrorism. I have worked with several of the key forensic service providers in the country such as Cellmark Forensic Services, Alecto Forensics and LGC. I have also worked with numerous UK police forces.

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Plants Tell Stories

Earth is home to over 390,000 species of plant and millions of fungi. Yet, we still know very little about them. Exploring their stories and sharing them is one of my main passions.Alongside my own personal academic research interests, particularly the early modern history of botany and horticulture, I offer a wide range of professional services relating to the botanical world. I am also an experienced public speaker and an accredited lecturer for the Arts Society.

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Work profile

Forensic Botanist


I have participated in many serious crime investigations across the UK. I use my understanding of botany and landscape history to assist in missing person searches (especially ‘cold-cases’), assessing how long human remains have been in-situ and linking suspects to crime scenes.

Consultant Botanist


I have experience of large-scale botanical habitat survey work. I also have considerable knowledge of invasive non-native species and botany in the urban environment. My broad taxonomic expertise (including horticultural plants) enables me to advise on many aspects of botany.

Hon. Botany Curator, Linnean Society of London


I am an expert on 17th and 18th century botanists especially Carl Linnaeus, the founder of the binomial system. I am responsible for the care of Linnaeus’s herbarium and provide expert advice on the nomenclature, taxonomy and botanical history of the Society’s collections.

Public Speaking & Media


I am an accomplished public speaker with significant experience of television and radio, most recently I have been a guest on BBC Radio 4’s The infinite Monkey Cage and presented a documentary on the plant-life of Yunnan for Discovery Channel Asia-Pacific. I am also writing a book on my experiences as a forensic botanist.

Botany Curator, Natural History Museum, London


I worked at the museum for over 12 years where I curated several major herbariums of international importance. I developed several major projects using the collections for research into the impacts of climate change upon biodiversity. I also have significant experience in museum public engagement and exhibition development.

Full work history (LinkedIn)
Academic research (Research professional


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