Find out about the plant and fungi discoveries that have been made by scientists and botanists working at Kew.
Discoveries in the field
Following in the footsteps of their famous predecessors such as Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Joseph Hooker and Charles Darwin, Kew's botanists continue to explore and study the world’s plant and fungal diversity. On average they make 200 new discoveries every year, highlighting the fact there is much of the plant world yet to be discovered and documented.
Discoveries in the lab
Kew’s discoveries are not limited to work in the field. Scientists in the laboratories at Kew go deeper in order to further understand plants and fungi. For example, in 2010, scientists in the Jodrell Laboratory discovered that Paris japonica, a striking rare native plant of Japan, has the largest genome of them all – containing 50 times more DNA than the human genome. And in 2011, Kew botanist Andre Schuiteman worked alongside the Netherlands Centre for Biodiversity Naturalis to describe the first night-flowering orchid known to science on the island of New Britain, near New Guinea.
Despite being an estimated 1.5 million species of fungi, new discoveries are being made of new species all the time. Kew have also played a part in the rediscovery of species that were thought to be extinct such as moon carrot rust (Puccinia libanotidis) found in 2009 in three populations of its host, a rare plant of the southern English chalk hills; also bird’s-eye primrose smut (Urocystis primulicola) rediscovered in 2010.
Browse profiles of Kew's discoveries
elephant's foot yam
red dragon tree
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