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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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.
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.
Baobab, Africa’s iconic ‘upside-down’ tree, is pollinated by bats and bushbabies.
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.
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.
The strange-looking quiver tree is an icon of southern Africa’s most arid habitats.
Fan aloe is an unusual, many-branched succulent with striking scarlet flowers and fan-like clusters of leaves.
The monkey puzzle was given its name by an observer who thought that monkeys wouldn’t be able to climb the spiky branches.
Breadfruit is a tall tropical tree with divided leaves and large green to yellow fruits with an edible, starchy, white or cream-coloured flesh.
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.
Berlinia razzifera is a rare rainforest tree from river banks in the Loango National Park of Gabon.
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.
A shrub or tree, with mulberry-like leaves, paper mulberry is important as a source of fibre for cloth and paper.
Callicarpa argentii is one of four new species of Callicarpa recently described from the island of Borneo.
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.
Christmas camellia is an attractive shrub with beautiful white to red flowers and contrasting dark green evergreen leaves.
The leaves and fruiting catkins of Fang’s hornbeam are larger than those of any other hornbeam.
Sweet chestnut is a medium-sized tree that is widely cultivated for its edible nuts contained in prickly husks.
A striking South American tree, the empty fruits of which may turn up in your potpourri.
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.
Guadeloupe blackbead has beautiful clusters of creamy-white flowers and stunning red pods shaped like a string of beads and containing black seeds.
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.
The mopane tree is reputed to provide the best fuelwood in Africa.
An endangered tree from northeast Madagascar, Dalbergia andapensis is threatened by local deforestation.
Daniellia alsteeniana is one of the most charismatic and conspicuous trees in the woodlands and dry forests of northeastern Angola, where Kew is documenting species diversity to help build a case for conservation of this unique region.
Native to China, handkerchief tree was once considered to be the Holy Grail of exotic flora, and seeds were first sent to England by the legendary botanist Ernest Wilson in 1901.
Delonix decaryi, a tree with a cigar-shaped trunk, is found in the dry spiny forest of Madagascar, and sometimes planted as a living fence.
Although widely cultivated in the tropics since the 19th century, the native habitat of flamboyant was unknown to science until the 1930s, when it was rediscovered growing in the wild in Madagascar.
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.
A small tree or shrub from Mexico and Guatemala, poinsettia is cultivated for its striking red bracts, and potted forms are the basis of a lucrative Christmas industry.
Copper beech trees can be propagated by grafting to maintain the colour of the leaves.
The banyan is a type of strangling fig, native to India and Pakistan. Known in Hindu mythology as 'the wish-fulfilling tree', banyans represent eternal life.
White ash is a rapidly growing timber tree native to eastern North America. Its shock-resistant timber is used for tool handles and baseball bats.
One of Europe’s largest native deciduous trees, European ash provides tough, elastic timber that is widely used for furniture and also used to make tennis racquets and cricket stumps.
Gilbertiodendron dewevrei is a large, evergreen tree that dominates forests in parts of central Africa.
Ginkgo biloba, or maidenhair tree, has been described as a ‘living fossil’ because it is the sole survivor of an ancient group of trees older than the dinosaurs.
Gamhar is a southeast Asian tree that produces high-quality wood, which is used to make furniture and musical instruments, such as Indian sitars and drums.
A beautiful tree from African mountain forests, hagenia is much-used in local medicine.
Hevea brasiliensis, better known as the rubber tree, is the primary source of natural rubber.
Well-known as a festive winter decoration, common holly is one of Britain's few native evergreen trees.
An evergreen tree from China and Vietnam, star anise is cultivated for its aromatic fruits that are used to produce a spice similar in flavour to aniseed.