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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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.
Aloe ferox is a South African aloe valued for its colourless leaf ‘gel’ and bitter brown exudate.
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.
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.
Oat is cultivated throughout the temperate world, to produce food for livestock and humans, and even as an ingredient for cosmetics.
An African tree producing a spectacular display of pink flowers, Cape chestnut is a popular ornamental.
Wintersweet is grown chiefly for the wonderful scent produced by its small flowers in late winter and early spring.
Watermelon has long been valued for its refreshing fruits, which have also been used as an ingredient in cosmetics.
A striking South American tree, the empty fruits of which may turn up in your potpourri.
Believed to be the source of the scented myrrh mentioned in the Bible, Commiphora guidottii is a tree native to Somalia and Ethiopia.
Lemon grass is a tall, Asian grass, long-known for its attractive scent and medicinal properties.
The principal source of eucalyptus oil, Tasmanian blue gum is a tall, evergreen tree native to Tasmania and Victoria and is the most widely cultivated eucalypt across Australia and the rest of the world.
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.
Alang-alang is considered one of the ten worst weeds in the world, but has many uses as a traditional medicine.
Huon pine is a slow-growing Australian tree, some individuals of which are thought to be over 2,200 years old.
Fringed lavender is an attractive, highly aromatic, winter-flowering shrub for an unheated conservatory.
The main source of commercially-produced tea tree oil, Melaleuca alternifolia is an efficacious natural antiseptic once heralded as ‘a medicine chest in a bottle’.
Ocimum basilicum, commonly known as basil, is an aromatic annual herb and an important economic crop.
A very common herb, oregano is widely used to give flavour to tomato or lamb dishes.
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.
A rapidly-growing tree or shrub from Mexico and Central America, avocado is well-known for its edible, green-fleshed fruits.
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.
A climber from India, black pepper is the source of hot and pungent peppercorns, one of the most popular spices in the world.
A rapidly growing tree native to southeastern North America, black locust is loved by many as an elegant ornamental of parks and city streets.
Sugar is extracted from the sweet, juicy stems of sugar cane, and is used worldwide as a sweetener, preservative and in the cosmetics industry.
The cocoa tree is the source of one of the world’s most delicious and familiar products… chocolate.
The nettle is one of the most useful plants in Britain and even its sting can be beneficial.
Vanilla planifolia is the source of vanilla, one of the most popular flavours in the world, and weight for weight, one of the most valuable spice crops.