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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Schumann abelia is an elegant shrub with arching stems, which bear clusters of attractive, lilac-pink flowers throughout the summer.
Okra is valued for its edible green fruits, said to be shaped like lady’s fingers.
Abutilon ranadei is a Critically Endangered shrub with great potential as an ornamental; it is restricted to Maharashtra State in western India.
Few trees are under greater threat from increases in sea level due to climate change than poke-me-boy, found almost exclusively on one of the British Virgin Islands (Anegada), which stands only 8 m above the Caribbean Sea.
Cootamundra wattle is a graceful tree with beautiful fern-like foliage and bright golden-yellow flower heads, and is widely cultivated as an ornamental.
The fast-growing sweet thorn, with its striking yellow pompom-like flowerheads, is perhaps the most well-used acacia in southern Africa.
Fast-growing brown salwood trees are planted on a vast scale for the production of paper and solid wood products.
Acacia menabeensis is a Critically Endangered shrub, which is restricted to Madagascar.
The wood of Acacia nilotica was used by ancient Egyptians to make statues and furniture.
Gum arabic has been used for at least 4,000 years in the preparation of food, in human and veterinary medicine, in crafts and as a cosmetic.
Restricted to central Mozambique, Acacia torrei was known from only three herbarium specimens collected in the 1940s, until further collections were made by Kew botanists in 2006.
More: Legume family
Syrian acanthus is one of the most difficult species for seed collecting because its spines are so hard and sharp.
The paperbark maple is an ornamental tree with peeling, copper-brown bark; its leaves start orange in spring, then turn successively pinkish-brown, yellow and deep green through summer and finally end up deep red in autumn.
Although native to China, it was commercialisation of this climber in New Zealand (and clever marketing under the name kiwi fruit) that made it the popular and widespread fruit it is today.
A climber with unusual, variegated leaves, splashed with pink and white, kolomikta vine has small flowers with a fragrance similar to that of lily-of-the-valley.
Baobab, Africa’s iconic ‘upside-down’ tree, is pollinated by bats and bushbabies.
Adonidia maturbongsii is a solitary palm recently discovered on Biak Island in Indonesia and considered to be Endangered.
A relative of the common horse chestnut, the Indian horse chestnut from the Himalaya is a spectacular early summer flowering tree, which produces smaller seeds than the common horse chestnut, making it less useful for the 'conker' player.
The horse mushroom is a good, sought-after edible fungus, related to the common cultivated mushroom (A. bisporus) and with a pleasant aniseed-like odour.
A rare grass species, Agrostis trachychlaena occurs within an area of only 16 km² on two islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. Fewer than 250 mature individuals are thought to survive.
Flat-crown albizia is an African tree with a wealth of uses, from the simple provision of shade to the preparation of a love charm.
Previously considered extinct, the bromeliad Alcantarea hatschbachii has recently been re-discovered in the Brazilian highlands.
More: Saving species
An attractive wetland plant, common water-plantain has delicate white, pale pink or lilac flowers that open in late afternoon and close again at dusk.
The golden trumpet vine has clusters of particularly striking golden-yellow flowers, which contrast with the shiny dark green leaves to make a lush plant for the conservatory.
Garlic is a strongly aromatic bulb that has long been used in cooking and medicine.
Sicilian honey garlic has attractive bell-shaped flowers, but don’t be fooled by its beauty - like most members of its genus and subfamily it has an unpleasant smell when bruised.
A threatened species in the UK, the round-headed leek belongs to the same genus as the familiar culinary plants onions, leeks, garlic and chives.
Elephant ear taro is a massive aroid with a spectacular cluster of upwardly pointing, arrow-shaped leaf blades which can reach one metre in length.
Aloe ciliaris is a South African aloe with barely succulent leaves and one of the most vigorous of the climbing aloes.
The strange-looking quiver tree is an icon of southern Africa’s most arid habitats.
Aloe ferox is a South African aloe valued for its colourless leaf ‘gel’ and bitter brown exudate.
Tall mountain aloes growing on hillsides are a common sight in southern Africa.
Fan aloe is an unusual, many-branched succulent with striking scarlet flowers and fan-like clusters of leaves.
Aloe vera has been described as a wonder-plant. The colourless jelly-like leaf parenchyma tissue is used in an extraordinary array of everyday products, from dishwashing liquid to yoghurt.
Aloe welmelensis is a rare and threatened succulent plant species found only in one river valley in southern Ethiopia.
One of the most iconic and distinctive of British fungi, fly agaric, with its red cap and white spots, is renowned for its toxicity and hallucinogenic properties.
A striking aroid from tropical Asia, elephant yam is extensively cultivated for its edible tubers.
The titan arum is a giant among plants, with a massive flowering structure that rises some three metres above the ground. Its flowering is rare and unpredictable, and always grabs the headlines!
Pineapple is a tropical plant widely cultivated for its distinctive fruits with their sweet yellow flesh and juice.
Haller’s anemone is insulated with dense hairs, allowing it to grow even in freezing temperatures.
Well-known as a decoration for cakes and puddings, angelica is a tall, aromatic herb that has been cultivated since ancient times.
When Charles Darwin was sent a specimen of the Madagascan Christmas star orchid in 1862, he predicted that since the nectar was at the bottom of the long flower spur, a pollinator must exist with a tongue as long as the spur - 41 years later, such a moth was discovered.
Evergreen kangaroo paw has a clump of narrow, iris-like leaves and branching stems. The masses of tubular, curved, densely-hairy flowers are usually yellow, but can be orange, red, pink or green.
Clinging to an unstable cliff on a sharp mountain ridge, four tiny plants of the Ascension Island parsley fern, thought to be extinct for over 50 years, were discovered by conservation biologists in 2009.
These popular houseplants are known as flamingo flowers owing to the resemblance of the flowering parts to the body and twisted neck of a flamingo.
Thale cress hit the headlines in 2000, when this small garden weed became the first plant to have its genome sequenced.
The monkey puzzle was given its name by an observer who thought that monkeys wouldn’t be able to climb the spiky branches.
Arisaema consanguineum is a striking plant with rather sinister-looking flowers and bold foliage.
The subtly attractive Jacquemont’s cobra lily is native to the Himalaya, southern India, and the Khasi Hills region in north-east India, and can be cultivated in shady areas of temperate gardens.