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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A striking new mistletoe, recently discovered in the ‘lost forest’ of Mt Mabu in northern Mozambique, is currently known from just five collections made in the same small area.
Helleborus thibetanus is a delicate hellebore, separated from its closest relatives in western Eurasia by more than 5,000 km.
The orange daylily bears a succession of striking orange-red flowers on long stems, but each flower lasts only one day, opening in the morning and closing in the evening.
A wood-recycling fungus of conservation concern, bearded tooth has distinctive white football-sized fruitbodies, covered in icicle-like projections.
Heterospathe barfodii is a critically endangered palm from Papua New Guinea with a striking white crownshaft and maroon young flowering stems.
Hevea brasiliensis, better known as the rubber tree, is the primary source of natural rubber.
Hierochloe odorata is an aromatic grass native to Europe, Asia and North America, which has been used for incense and basketry by Native Americans.
Used for generations by the indigenous peoples of the Kalahari to quench their thirst, Hoodia gordonii is now widely used in the commercial production of slimming aids.
Sea barley is a wild relative of the well-known cereal barley (Hordeum vulgare).
More: Grass family
Heart-leaved houttuynia is a creeping herb with fleshy stems and a scent that has been described as lemon, sandalwood, coriander or raw fish.
Bluebells, almost half the global population of which is found in the UK, can create a stunning carpet of woodland colour during the spring.
Hymenoscyphus pseudoalbidus is a virulent fungal pathogen of ash trees that causes ‘chalara ash dieback’ in northern and central Europe and has recently spread to the UK.
Well-known as a festive winter decoration, common holly is one of Britain's few native evergreen trees.
Farges’s holly, named after the French missionary Paul Farges, is a Chinese holly with glossy dark green leaves and fragrant white flowers, followed by red berries.
An evergreen tree from China and Vietnam, star anise is cultivated for its aromatic fruits that are used to produce a spice similar in flavour to aniseed.
Alang-alang is considered one of the ten worst weeds in the world, but has many uses as a traditional medicine.
A vine from the morning glory family (Convolvulaceae), sweet potato is widely cultivated for its edible root tubers.
Iris afghanica has been described as the finest plant introduction from Afghanistan, and the most superb of the regelia irises.
Fringed iris is common in many parts of China and Japan and appears to have been cultivated in Europe since 1792.
English iris, which is in fact native to France and Spain, is a tall, sturdy, bulbous iris with deep blue flowers in mid-summer.
The striking Siberian iris was first brought into cultivation in the Middle Ages, and is still widely grown in temperate regions.
Iris variegata has striking bicoloured flowers and is the source of many of the most colourful bearded iris cultivars.
Doka is a vigorously colonising African tree which often dominates the woodland belt that stretches from Guinea in the west to Uganda in the east.
Part of an ancient group of plants related to the ferns, this species eluded discovery until 2007, hence its Latin name eludens.
A newly described rare species of forest floor herb, discovered growing in the glasshouses at Kew!
More: Kew discoveries
On one of Kew’s collecting trips to Pakistan, 100 plants of the rare Jasminum leptophyllum were discovered; no other populations are known to local expedition members.
Although Darwin described the Chilean wine palm as a ‘very ugly tree’, many consider it to be one of the world's most magnificent palms. Kew’s own impressive specimen is growing in our Temperate House.
A North American tree with dark-coloured timber and bark, black walnut produces timber and edible nuts (seeds) used in confectionery.
Justicia brandegeeana is commonly known as shrimp plant because of the colour and shrimp-like appearance of its inflorescence.
Kalanchoe schimperiana is a leafy succulent, less commonly cultivated than other species in this genus, appreciated for its attractive flowers in early spring.
This remarkable new species was discovered in the highly endangered Atlantic Forest of eastern Brazil.
Khaosok sedge was discovered in 2001 on limestone cliffs, accessible only by boat, in southern Thailand.
The sausage tree is sacred to many African communities and has a wide variety of uses in traditional and Western medicine, including commercially available skin lotions.
In the uplands of South Africa, the brightly-coloured flower spikes of the Lesotho red hot poker can be seen from a distance.
Lactarius chromospermus is an African milk-cap fungus species with chocolate brown gills that only forms a symbiotic relationship with species of Brachystegia in Miombo woodland.
Lactifluus gymnocarpoides is an edible species of milk cap fungus that form relationships with the roots of certain tropical legume trees and is widespread in tropical Africa.
Huon pine is a slow-growing Australian tree, some individuals of which are thought to be over 2,200 years old.
The white dead-nettle has nettle shaped leaves that do not sting, and grows in woodlands and grasslands.
The leaf markings of the spotted dead-nettle make it an attractive and popular choice for gardeners, and along with its large purple flowers easily distinguish it from the common stinging nettle (Urtica dioica).
A root parasite with explosive seed capsules, purple toothwort is becoming increasingly popular as a decorative garden plant.
A parasite growing on the roots of a range of woody plants, toothwort owes its common name to its flowering and fruiting stems, which have been said to resemble a row of teeth.
Fringed lavender is an attractive, highly aromatic, winter-flowering shrub for an unheated conservatory.
Lavandula minutolii is an attractive winter-flowering shrub for the conservatory with aromatic, feathery grey leaves and spikes of blue flowers.
A bizarre, cushion-forming herb, Lepidagathis fischeri is resurrected annually following fire and subsequent rains in the woodlands and grasslands of eastern Africa.
Redlead roundhead is an attractive fungus easily recognised by its orange, slimy cap and dark gills. It can be found growing in large clusters on woodchip mulch.
The aptly named ‘plantpot dapperling’ mushroom often provides a surprise when its brilliant yellow fruiting bodies spring suddenly but fleetingly from plant pots in the dead of winter.
The spring snowflake is a popularly cultivated bulbous plant with delicate white flowers, and belongs to the same family as the snowdrops.
Bitterroot was first described as new to science in 1813 from specimens collected during one of the first western expeditions across the United States to the Pacific coast, but the species was already well-known and used by local Native Americans.
This tree sea lavender, native to the Canary Islands, is one of the largest species in the genus Limonium.