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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Okra is valued for its edible green fruits, said to be shaped like ‘lady’s fingers’, one of its common names in British English.
The fast-growing sweet thorn, with its striking yellow pompom-like flowerheads, is perhaps the most well-used acacia in southern Africa.
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.
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.
Garlic is a strongly aromatic bulb that has long been used in cooking and medicine.
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 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 striking aroid from tropical Asia, elephant yam is extensively cultivated for its edible tubers.
Pineapple is a tropical plant widely cultivated for its distinctive fruits with their sweet yellow flesh and juice.
Well-known as a decoration for cakes and puddings, angelica is a tall, aromatic herb that has been cultivated since ancient times.
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.
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.
Breadfruit is a tall tropical tree with divided leaves and large green to yellow fruits with an edible, starchy, white or cream-coloured flesh.
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.
Oat is cultivated throughout the temperate world, to produce food for livestock and humans, and even as an ingredient for cosmetics.
Beetroot, Swiss chard, sugar beet and mangel-wurzel are all cultivars of the same species, Beta vulgaris.
Fingerroot is a medicinal and culinary herb, with bright yellow, finger-shaped rhizomes.
Cabbage, kale, kohlrabi, cauliflower, broccoli and Brussels sprouts are all cultivars of the same species, Brassica oleracea.
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.
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.
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.
Across India and other Asian countries, the sap of solitary fishtail palm is fermented to produce an alcoholic drink called palm wine or toddy.
The dried roots of Chlorophytum tuberosum are used as a popular tonic and aphrodisiac in Ayurvedic medicine.
Widely cultivated for its nutritious seeds, chickpea is thought to have originated in Turkey, Syria and Iran.
Watermelon has long been valued for its refreshing fruits, which have also been used as an ingredient in cosmetics.
Coffee is one of the world’s favourite drinks, one of the most important commercial crop-plants, and the second most valuable international commodity; Arabica coffee is considered to produce the finest coffee beans.
A tropical tree from West African rainforests, kola nut seeds are popularly chewed as a caffeine-containing stimulant and are an ingredient in some soft drinks.
A vine native to Mexico and the USA, Cucurbita pepo has been domesticated for thousands of years and is the source of an astonishing variety of cultivated forms, including Halloween pumpkins, courgettes (zucchini) and squashes.
A tall herb from southwestern India, Indian arrowroot is cultivated for its tubers, which are an important source of starch in times of food scarcity.
Hill turmeric is an Indian herb used in local and tribal medicine and as a source of arrowroot starch.
Lemon grass is a tall, Asian grass, long-known for its attractive scent and medicinal properties.
Darwin's fungus is a parasitic, golf ball-like fungus that was named in honour of Charles Darwin, who collected it in Tierra del Fuego during his voyage on HMS Beagle in 1832.
Wild carrot has delicate white flower heads and a thin, wiry taproot bearing little resemblance to the fleshy, bright orange root vegetable produced commercially.
Bako, only recently discovered and described, symbolises the importance of wild yams and their biodiversity to the Malagasy people.
A yam from Southeast Asia, India and China, Dioscorea wallichii has edible tubers that can grow to over one metre long.
Dracaena jayniana is an endangered dragon tree from Thailand, the dried red sap of which is used to make a tonic drink.
The densely-spined strawberry cactus is known for its hedgehog-like appearance and strawberry-flavoured fruits.
The golden lotus banana is a small but stunning member of the banana family.