Forensic palynology: Why do it and how it works Academic Article uri icon


  • Forensic palynology has been a law enforcement tool for over 50 years. Forensic palynology is the application of pollen and spores in solving legal issues, either civil or criminal. Pollen and spores can be obtained from an extremely wide range of items, including bodies. Pollen and spores provide clues as to the source of the items and the characteristics of the environments from which the material on them is sourced. Their usefulness lies in a combination of their abundance, dispersal mechanisms, resistance to mechanical and chemical destruction, microscopic size, and morphology. Their often complex morphology allows identification to an individual parent plant taxon that can be related to a specific ecological habitat or a specific scene. Pollen and spore assemblages characterise different environments and scenes and can easily be picked up and transported away from scenes of interest without providing any visual clue to a suspect as to what has occurred. With so many publications and high-profile cases involving forensic palynology and environmental analysis now receiving publicity, the future of this branch of forensic science is assured. Furthermore, with the development of multi-disciplinary approaches to environmental analyses of crime scenes, far more detailed information is now available to law enforcement agencies, enabling them to determine with greater accuracy what may have happened during the commission of criminal activities.

altmetric score

  • 10

author list (cited authors)

  • Mildenhall, D. C., Wiltshire, P., & Bryant, V. M.

citation count

  • 84

publication date

  • August 2006