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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An orchid endangered in the UK, the burnt-tip orchid gets its common name from the burnt appearance of its flowers when in bud.
Nepenthes bicalcarata, a distinctively ‘fanged’ pitcher plant from Borneo, has a mutually beneficial relationship with ants living inside its tendrils.
Famous as the rat-trapping pitcher plant, Nepenthes rajah has some of the largest pitchers in the genus Nepenthes.
A pitcher plant from the Philippines, description of Nepenthes robcantleyi was based on plants known from only a single location, where the forest has since been cut down.
Nerine humilis is a low-growing, pink-flowered bulb, found on rocky slopes in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape Provinces of South Africa, often flowering in huge numbers after veld fires.
Nerium oleander, commonly known as oleander, is a highly toxic plant that has been cultivated since ancient times.
St Helena olive disappeared from the wild in 1994 and became extinct in 2003 when the cultivated seedlings and cuttings succumbed to fungal infections.
Nymphaea thermarum is the smallest waterlily in the world, and the only Nymphaea to grow in damp mud rather than water.
The stinging-nettle tree looks a bit like a papaya tree – but it does what its name suggests!
Ocimum basilicum, commonly known as basil, is an aromatic annual herb and an important economic crop.
Holy basil is an important medicinal and religious plant closely related to the basil we use for cooking.
Kew's Herbarium contains a wreath of folded olive leaves, which was found in the sarcophagus of King Tutankhamun, and is over 3,300 years old.
Round-leaved restharrow is a beautiful, dwarf shrub with large, pink, red-veined pea-flowers and round, toothed, sticky leaflets.
Lilyturf is a clump-forming perennial native to Japan, a dark-leaved cultivar of which is popular as an ornamental.
A member of the pea and bean family, Ophrestia madagascariensis is a perennial vine that is only found in northwestern Madagascar.
More: Legume family
The striking flowers of the bee orchid resemble a bee, resting on a pink flower.
Ophrys speculum is a Mediterranean orchid that is pollinated exclusively by a single species of wasp.
A very common herb, oregano is widely used to give flavour to tomato or lamb dishes.
Ornithochilus cacharensis is a Critically Endangered orchid, which was recently discovered in Cachar, Assam (India).
One of the world’s most important staple crops and a major part in the diet of more than half the world’s population, rice also has many medicinal uses.
Fragrant olive is an evergreen tree or shrub, with strongly-scented flowers; it is cultivated as an ornamental and has a long history of use in traditional herbal medicine and for flavouring tea and confectionery.
Star of the veldt is a South African daisy with scented leaves and striking orange-yellow flower heads with dark centres.
The late autumn flowering tropical woodsorrel was introduced into cultivation in the 18th century, but is not widely grown due to its untidy habit and flowers that only open in the sun, which can be rare in November.
Oxalis massoniana is a clump-forming perennial with hairy stems, narrow leaves and bright orange flowers; it is named after the Scottish botanist Francis Masson.
Oxytenanthera abyssinica (Bindura bamboo) is a drought-resistant bamboo from tropical Africa. Kew’s Millennium Seed Bank holds several thousand seeds from this species.
The bottle tree owes its name to the unusual swollen shape of its trunk, which acts as a water store. Traditional hunters in northern Namibia have used its highly toxic sap as an arrow poison.
More: Amazing adaptations
American ginseng roots, which can resemble the human body, are dried for use as a popular herbal medicine.
Few hardy, herbaceous flowers are more spectacular than the oriental poppy, a perennial that has long been popular in cultivation.
A distinctive symbol of remembrance, the common poppy has seeds that can lie dormant for over 80 years.
The endangered golden slipper orchid is highly prized as an ornamental.
The common name St Bruno’s lily refers to the founder of the Carthusian order of monks, and its medicinal properties have been known for a millennium.
The genome of the Japanese canopy plant contains 50 times more DNA than the human genome and is 15% larger than the previous record holders (the marbled lungfish and a trillium).
Flowering in late spring or early summer, herb paris is an attractive woodland plant with broad, spreading leaves and unusual, wispy flowers.
A tree from the forests of West and Central Africa, Parkia bicolor has large, reddish, pendent flower heads that are pollinated by fruit bats at night.
This striking new species of passion flower was discovered during an expedition to the Amazon Forest in Mato Grosso, Brazil.
The red passion flower is a beautiful evergreen climber with hanging clusters of showy red flowers.
Originating in South Africa, the sorrel-leaved pelargonium is an elegant evergreen with a long flowering season that has been grown in England since 1724.
As the name suggests, the heart-leaved pelargonium has velvety, heart-shaped leaves scented of apple.
A rapidly-growing tree or shrub from Mexico and Central America, avocado is well-known for its edible, green-fleshed fruits.
This mat-forming perennial with smooth leaves and spikes of small pink or red flowers was once admired in the Himalaya by Sir Joseph Hooker, one of Kew’s early directors.
The moth orchid was one of the first orchids to be described from the Far East and its hybrids are now popular as houseplants.
Turkish sage is a stately plant, bearing whorls of hooded pale yellow flowers in summer and autumn.
Said to combine the flavour of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, allspice is best known as an ingredient in cakes and baking, but is also used in a variety of sweet and savoury dishes and drinks.
Caribbean pine is an important timber tree, one variety of which is under threat from an introduced scale insect.
Highly valued for its edible seeds known as ‘pine nuts’, the stone pine has been cultivated in Europe for almost 2,000 years.
A climber from India, black pepper is the source of hot and pungent peppercorns, one of the most popular spices in the world.
Forming low cushions of densely packed hairy leaves, Moore’s plantain survives the harsh drying winds, cool temperatures and strong ultraviolet light prevailing in the Falkland Islands.
More: Amazing adaptations
Native to southeast Europe and southwest Asia, oriental plane is a long-lived tree with widely spreading branches and spiky round fruits.
This small member of the mint family lives in and around waterfalls in West Africa.
More: Mint family