Skip to main content
You are here

Economic Botany Collection

Kew's Economic Botany Collection illustrates the extent of human use of plants around the world. The huge variety of objects includes artefacts made from plants, as well as raw plant materials, such as wood samples. Uses range from food, medicine and utensils, to social activities and clothing.
Bottled crude drugs

The collections build an important bridge between biological and cultural diversity, and are a valuable resource for the study of plant uses past, present and future. They are managed by the Collections Department of the Science Directorate.

Sir William Hooker, the first official Director of the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, opened the Museum of Economic Botany in 1847. While the majority of the objects were acquired during the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Collection continues to grow today and now holds over 95,000 specimens. These include present day material as well as archaeological specimens and 19th century curiosities. Enquiries about using and visiting the Collection for research are welcome. Please explore some of our holdings.

Search Kew's Economic Botany Collection

The Plants + People exhibition in Museum No.1 displays over 450 of these plant-based treasures.

Plants+People Exhibition
Plants + People exhibition in Kew's Museum No.1

Contact us

Team Leader: Dr Mark Nesbitt
Collections Assistant: Frances Cook

Economic Botany Collection
Herbarium
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew 
Richmond
Surrey TW9 3AB
UK

Email: ecbot@kew.org

Curating Biocultural Collections: A Handbook

The first major curation manual for biocultural collections. Including real-life case studies and references to online resources.

Curating Biocultural Collections