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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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
Livingstone potato is a yellow-flowered member of the mint family, with elongated edible tubers.
Sea knotgrass is a coastal plant and is the rarest of the knotgrasses in Britain.
A perennial herb from Europe, temperate Asia and North America, woodland strawberry has small, delicate ‘fruits’ considered by many to be superior in flavour to commercial strawberries.
Malbau is a common beach plant from southeast Asia and the Pacific. The crushed leaves smell of cat's urine.
Primula beesiana is a popularly cultivated hardy perennial producing tiers of purple-red flowers in summer, and is especially dramatic when grown en masse.
Primula bulleyana is a candelabra primula from China with rich golden yellow-orange flowers.
The drumstick primula is the most common Himalayan primula in the wild and is very popular in cultivation.
An attractive perennial with elegant yellow flowers, Primula verticillata is native to north-east Africa and south-west Arabia, and is one of the parents of the Kew primrose (‘P. kewensis’).
Primula vialii is a striking perennial, with unusual spikes of pinkish flowers, tipped with red.
The cockleshell orchid is the National Flower of Belize, where it is known to residents as the black orchid.
A mountain shrub with striking flower heads, the snow protea can withstand impressive extremes of temperature.
Selfheal is a common herb in Britain and has a long history of medicinal use.
One of China and Japan's most popular plants, mume blossoms have long been a favourite subject in traditional East Asian art and poetry.
A shrub with pure white flowers and dark, thorny branches, blackthorn is perhaps best known for its fruits, which are used to produce sloe gin.
Small-leaved bloodwood is an African shrub or tree with many uses, and is considered threatened in northern Burkina Faso.
Unrecorded since 1946, moon carrot rust was regarded as a fungus extinct in Britain until it was rediscovered in 2009 in three populations of its host, a rare plant of the southern English chalk hills.
Flame vine is a rampant climber that carries cascades of bright orange tubular flowers. Although a dazzling spectacle when in full flower, in some parts of the world it has become naturalised and a weed.
An extremely rare sight in Britain, the chestnut-leaved oak is native to the mountains of the Caucasus and Iran.
Unrivalled king of the forest in Britain, English oak (pedunculate oak) is synonymous with strength, size and longevity.
Red oak is a North American tree with spectacular reddish brown leaves in autumn.
The thick bark of the cork oak has been harvested for thousands of years, and was used to make Roman sandals.
A rare, parasitic, rootless and leafless plant, Rafflesia arnoldii has the largest known flower in the world.