Kew's Fungarium contains specimens from every part of the globe, and reflects the importance of fungi as providers of food, medicines, enzymes and essential ecosystem services.
About Kew’s Fungarium
An estimated 1.25 million specimens of dried fungi, including approximately 50,000 original types, are housed in the Fungarium at Kew - one of the oldest, largest, and most important mycological reference collections in the world.
Kew has specimens of fungi from all seven continents, spanning the fungal tree of life. Our major holdings belong to the Ascomycota (about 725,000 specimens) and Basidiomycota (about 487,500 specimens), with the remaining groups in the minority (about 37,500 specimens). These include specimens representing over half of the known fungal diversity. Our oldest collections predate Linnaean nomenclature and we have a rich collection of historically significant material, including specimens collected by Charles Darwin, Richard Spruce and Alexander von Humboldt.
The Fungarium was founded in 1879 with the donation of Rev. Miles J. Berkeley’s personal collection of around 10,000 specimens (including 6,000 types). Today, the Fungarium consists of the British National Collections (about 350,000 specimens) and the overseas collections (about 900,000), including the recently acquired IMI collections (about 380,000 specimens). The collection continues to grow at an average rate of 4,000-5,000 specimens every year.
The collections are backed by an extensive mycological library containing classical works, modern texts and specialist journals. It is one of the most complete reference collections of literature on fungi to be found anywhere and is augmented with a rich collection of original illustrations (about 40,000).
Access to fungarium specimens
The Fungarium is open to researchers from around the world who wish to consult the collections and scholarly resources. We also share our collections by sending out specimens on loan to overseas universities and specialist institutes.
As part of our active and ongoing digitisation programme, data for over 500,000 specimens and images for over 2,000 specimens are available. These can be accessed online through our Fungarium Catalogue, the IMI Catalogue and JSTOR.
Loan and visitor policies
The Fungarium is open to researchers by appointment only. A written request to visit is required at least two weeks prior to your proposed visit. Please send your request by email or letter to the address below. Your request must include the following information: full name and address of your institution, or home address if you are a private researcher, fungal taxa you wish to study and proposed dates of the visit. If you are a student, your supervisor must make the visit request on your behalf. Please see our Loan Regulation Policy for more information.
Contacting the Fungarium
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
Surrey TW9 3AE
9am to 5.30pm Monday to Thursday
9am to 5pm Friday
Closed weekends and public holidays