Plants & Fungi A - Z
Explore our profiles of plants and fungi.
These illustrated profiles contain a wealth of facts, including details on conservation, uses and habitats – as well as Kew’s connections with the species. They have been chosen to inspire interest in plants, detail our science and conservation work and showcase star plants in the Gardens.
This is a constantly growing resource with new profiles added every week - so do be sure to check back regularly.
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Widely cultivated for its nutritious seeds, chickpea is thought to have originated in Turkey, Syria and Iran.
Watermelon has long been valued for its refreshing fruits, which have also been used as an ingredient in cosmetics.
Clathrus archeri, also known as devil's fingers, has a gelatinous egg stage from which the fruitbody arises, its four to eight reddish arms each coated with dark, foul-smelling tissue.
The pagoda flower, so called because of its tall, pyramidal inflorescences, is one of the most spectacular Clerodendrum species.
A striking South American tree, the empty fruits of which may turn up in your potpourri.
Codonopsis tangshen is an unusual climber, bearing subtle, yellowish-green, bell-shaped flowers, with purple markings on the inside; the root is used in China to make a tonic.
The giant beans of Coffea ambongensis are more than twice the size of those used in commercial coffee production.
Coffee is one of the world’s favourite drinks, one of the most important commercial crop-plants, and the second most valuable international commodity; Arabica coffee is considered to produce the finest coffee beans.
Coffea pterocarpa is a newly identified coffee species with distinctive winged berries.
Guadeloupe blackbead has beautiful clusters of creamy-white flowers and stunning red pods shaped like a string of beads and containing black seeds.
A tropical tree from West African rainforests, kola nut seeds are popularly chewed as a caffeine-containing stimulant and are an ingredient in some soft drinks.
The mopane tree is reputed to provide the best fuelwood in Africa.
Believed to be the source of the scented myrrh mentioned in the Bible, Commiphora guidottii is a tree native to Somalia and Ethiopia.
Red crassula is a succulent plant with flat heads of striking, bright scarlet flowers.
Crinum brachynema is a Critically Endangered bulbous plant, with great potential as an ornamental, and is restricted to Gujarat and Maharashtra States in western India.
The bulb, leaves and sap of starry crinum are used in traditional medicine in West Africa for treating a range of ailments from pneumonia to snake-bite.
Woodrow’s crinum lily is a Critically Endangered bulbous plant with great potential as an ornamental, and is restricted to Maharashtra State in western India.
The stunning pale blue flowers of the Turkish Crocus baytopiorum make it one of the most distinctive Crocus species.
The corms of Sieber’s crocus are edible, apparently tasting of hazelnuts, and are eaten raw by mountain shepherds in Greece.
A vine native to Mexico and the USA, Cucurbita pepo has been domesticated for thousands of years and is the source of an astonishing variety of cultivated forms, including Halloween pumpkins, courgettes (zucchini) and squashes.
A tall herb from southwestern India, Indian arrowroot is cultivated for its tubers, which are an important source of starch in times of food scarcity.
An attractive, perennial herb from India, scentless turmeric is cultivated as an ornamental and also used in traditional medicine.
Hill turmeric is an Indian herb used in local and tribal medicine and as a source of arrowroot starch.
A popularly cultivated Curcuma, with beautiful, bright orange or yellow flowers, jewel of Burma is a member of the ginger family and an important Thai export.
More: House plants
Clover dodder is one of the most rapidly growing parasitic plants.
A botanical curiosity, Cylindrocline lorencei was considered extinct in the wild in 1990, but has recently been reintroduced to Mauritius.
More: Saving species
The tree cholla is a cactus closely related to the prickly pear (Opuntia) and is equally spiny.
The large-flowered Cymbidium hookerianum was named in honour of Sir Joseph Hooker, the second Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
Lemon grass is a tall, Asian grass, long-known for its attractive scent and medicinal properties.
Found on wooden structures, Cyphelium notarisii can be distinguished from similar lichens by the sooty residue left on fingers after rubbing the fruitbodies.
The lady's slipper orchid is one of the best known and most widely illustrated of all flowering plants.
A spectacular new species of canopy palm recently discovered by Kew botanists in the remote Western Province of Papua New Guinea.
Darwin's fungus is a parasitic, golf ball-like fungus that was named in honour of Charles Darwin, who collected it in Tierra del Fuego during his voyage on HMS Beagle in 1832.
Northern marsh orchid is a European species with vivid purple-violet flowers.
An endangered tree from northeast Madagascar, Dalbergia andapensis is threatened by local deforestation.
Daniellia alsteeniana is one of the most charismatic and conspicuous trees in the woodlands and dry forests of northeastern Angola, where Kew is documenting species diversity to help build a case for conservation of this unique region.
Wild carrot has delicate white flower heads and a thin, wiry taproot bearing little resemblance to the fleshy, bright orange root vegetable produced commercially.
Native to China, handkerchief tree was once considered to be the Holy Grail of exotic flora, and seeds were first sent to England by the legendary botanist Ernest Wilson in 1901.
Delonix decaryi, a tree with a cigar-shaped trunk, is found in the dry spiny forest of Madagascar, and sometimes planted as a living fence.
Although widely cultivated in the tropics since the 19th century, the native habitat of flamboyant was unknown to science until the 1930s, when it was rediscovered growing in the wild in Madagascar.
The proper scientific name of this commonly cultivated, tropical Asian orchid – most frequently known as Dendrobium aphyllum – is surrounded by much confusion.
A large-flowered orchid from the forests of northeastern India and northern Burma, Lady Benson’s dendrobium is cultivated by orchid enthusiasts.
Dendrobium daklakense is a showy, attractive Vietnamese orchid that has evaded discovery until very recently.
The dependable noble dendrobium is one of the most popular epiphytic orchids in cultivation.
Tufted hair-grass is a large, tussock-forming grass, once used to form the roof of one of the oldest thatched cottages in England.
Carthusian pink is an elegant, hardy, small-flowered Dianthus named in honour of the Carthusian order of monks.
Australian tree fern is a handsome plant native to south-eastern Australia, where it grows in fertile, high-rainfall areas and moist, sheltered gullies.
A popular ornamental, with tall spires of tapered, tubular, purple to pink or white flowers, common foxglove is also a source of digitoxin, used in the heart drug digitalis.
The Venus flytrap “eats” insects and sometimes even small frogs that become trapped in its modified, toothed leaves; if the prey struggles, the trap will close even tighter.