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 sweetly aromatic herb with small, yellow flower heads, sweet wormwood contains the chemical artemisinin and its aerial parts are used in making anti-malarial drugs.
Breadfruit is a tall tropical tree with divided leaves and large green to yellow fruits with an edible, starchy, white or cream-coloured flesh.
Arum pictum is a low-growing, autumn-flowering arum with beautiful, shiny leaves and a purple spathe.
Asarum asaroides was introduced to Europe by the German, Philipp von Siebold, on his return from Japan in 1830.
Garden asparagus is a widely grown seasonal vegetable that has been cultivated for thousands of years, and this and a few other species of the genus are still harvested from the wild in parts of the Mediterranean.
Whited’s milkvetch is a critically endangered legume, restricted to Washington State, USA.
More: Legume family
Oat is cultivated throughout the temperate world, to produce food for livestock and humans, and even as an ingredient for cosmetics.
Coast banksia is an open tree or large shrub with smooth-edged leaves when mature, and heads of pale yellow flowers. In some forms, the leaf edges are wavy.
A spectacular blue-flowered undershrub, Barleria aristata was only very recently described, despite its abundance along one of the main transport routes in east Africa!
The humble yet cheerfully attractive daisy is familiar to most people as a weed of lawns and as a feature of children's games.
Purple berkheya is the only mauve to purple flowered species in the genus, most of the others being yellow or in some cases white.
This rare rainforest giant was recently discovered in Cameroon.
Berlinia razzifera is a rare rainforest tree from river banks in the Loango National Park of Gabon.
Beetroot, Swiss chard, sugar beet and mangel-wurzel are all cultivars of the same species, Beta vulgaris.
Paper birch is a North American tree with waterproof bark used in earlier times to make canoes and tepee covers; its wood is now used commercially for toothpicks and ice lolly sticks.
The silver birch is a temperate tree, grown as an ornamental plant, also for its timber. It is used for a range of purposes, from broom-making and steeple-chase fencing to medicines.
Fingerroot is a medicinal and culinary herb, with bright yellow, finger-shaped rhizomes.
Frankincense, an oily gum resin from the tree Boswellia sacra and related species, is named in the Bible as one the three gifts given to the baby Jesus by the 'Three Wise Men'. It has been used for thousands of years in many different cultures.
When this brightly-coloured, forest floor herb was found by a Kew-led team on Namuli Mountain, it was the first time Brachystephanus africanus had been recorded from Mozambique.
More: Kew discoveries
Cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all cultivars of the same species, Brassica oleracea.
This bizarre Madagascan species Brenierea insignis has unusual flattened stems and is only really recognisable as a species of legume when in fruit.
More: Legume family
A shrub or tree, with mulberry-like leaves, paper mulberry is important as a source of fibre for cloth and paper.
Bulbophyllum macranthum is an epiphytic orchid from southeast Asia, with long, creeping rhizomes and large, sweetly-scented, fly-pollinated flowers.
Bulbophyllum nocturnum was recently discovered on the island of New Britain (part of Papua New Guinea) and is the first known orchid with flowers that consistently open at night and close during the day.
A bulbous herb with small white flowers, Caliphruria tenera has not been recorded in the wild since 1853, and is now considered to be possibly extinct.
Callicarpa argentii is one of four new species of Callicarpa recently described from the island of Borneo.
St George's mushroom is one of the few good edible fungi to be found in spring, usually appearing in late April close to St George’s Day (23rd April), hence the popular name.
An African tree producing a spectacular display of pink flowers, Cape chestnut is a popular ornamental.
In the dense, green, tropical forest undergrowth in Africa, the profusion of petals of the bright white flowers of Caloncoba welwitschii provide quite a spectacle.
Calvatia gigantea produces perhaps the largest fruitbody of any fungus, and is aptly referred to as the giant puffball. The unmistakeable fruitbodies, which appear in late summer and autumn, are often the size of footballs and sometimes much larger.
Great camas is a bulbous plant native to North America, with broader leaves than other species of this genus, that bears many star-shaped blue or whitish flowers.
Christmas camellia is an attractive shrub with beautiful white to red flowers and contrasting dark green evergreen leaves.
Tea is the most important non-alcoholic beverage in the world, and over three million tonnes are grown annually.
Camillea leprieurii is a fungus dependent on rainforest trees for survival but can only be easily detected when observed growing out of dead branches.
The pink-flowered liane Camoensia brevicalyx is widely distributed in Africa, but is infrequently collected and poorly-known scientifically.
More: Legume family
The birch-leaved bellflower is a large-flowered species found in north-east Turkey.
Yellow bellflower is unusual amongst the campanulas in having yellow flowers, and is considered rare in many alpine countries.
Canary bell-flower is a winter-flowering scrambler from the Canary Islands, with bright orange bells and copious watery nectar.
This species includes a wide variety of peppers, including chilli peppers used in curries and sweet bell peppers used in salads.
This newly discovered member of the coffee family was found in the threatened Atlantic Forest of southern Bahia, Brazil.
A star of many Western films, the iconic saguaro cactus is a spectacular feature of the Sonoran Desert in south western North America.
The leaves and fruiting catkins of Fang’s hornbeam are larger than those of any other hornbeam.
Across India and other Asian countries, the sap of solitary fishtail palm is fermented to produce an alcoholic drink called palm wine or toddy.
Sweet chestnut is a medium-sized tree that is widely cultivated for its edible nuts contained in prickly husks.
The Madagascar periwinkle is a popular ornamental plant found in gardens and homes across the world, and is also used in the treatment of cancer.
The cotton daisy is one of the more widespread species in the mountainous areas of New Zealand.
A low-growing perennial with beautiful, large, blue flowerheads, perennial cornflower is native to central and southern Europe.
Chamaegigas intrepidus is a rare aquatic plant from Namibia, with a remarkable ability to recover after drought.
Wintersweet is grown chiefly for the wonderful scent produced by its small flowers in late winter and early spring.