Throughout its 250 year history, Kew Gardens has made important contributions to increasing understanding of the plant kingdom. Today it is still first and foremost a scientific institution. With its collections of living and preserved plants, of plant products and of botanical information, it forms an encyclopaedia of knowledge about the plant kingdom.
The living plant collection in the Gardens is the largest and most comprehensive in the world, containing representatives of more than one in eight of all flowering plant species. Plants are included in the collection primarily for their scientific or educational value and many of them are actively used in our research programmes. The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew are in southwest London and are open to the public.
Kew's herbarium contains a reference collection of over 6 million specimens of dried plants and fungi - the most comprehensive in the world. Botanists use these specimens, together with material from the living collection, to study plant characters in order to catalogue the diversity of the plant kingdom. Kew also has one of the world's foremost botanical libraries, containing over 120,000 books as well as journals, papers, illustrations, and an extensive archive.
In 2003 Kew Gardens was inscribed by UNESCO on the list of World Heritage Sites
Kew was the lead partner in the Plant Cultures project, responsible for coordinating the work of the partners, and building the databases that power the web site. Kew's Library and Archives contributed 200 paintings and photographs to the website, with a further 100 from the Economic Botany Collections.
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Illustrations collections at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew [PDF]
Economic Botany Collections
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