Discovering new species and investigating the properties that make them useful in a changing world.
After more than two centuries, Kew has amassed vast collections and a huge amount of knowledge. Yet there's much more to be discovered, collected and learnt about plants and fungi. With species fast disappearing, we are using our expertise and the information held in our collections to gain a better understanding of the changing world and to guide decisions about where to focus conservation efforts.
Over 250 years of plant and fungal research
Kew's international work covers the discovery and description of plant and fungal diversity, the conservation of species and habitats around the world, restoring damaged vegetation and identifying useful species. Here you will find a gateway into some of the major groups of plants and fungi that scientists at Kew study every day.
Recording and classifying plants and fungi
Plant and fungi experts at Kew specialise in the identification, naming and classification of plants and fungi. We still have much to learn about the world's plants and fungi; scientists estimate that 14-20% of plant species have not yet been described.
Kew scientists are recording plant life around the world and developing a World Checklist of selected plant families. A snapshot of the world's plant life today, this also provides vital information for plant conservation activities taking place at global and national levels.
Breaking new ground with DNA analysis
DNA research at Kew is changing the way we identify plants. Traditionally, Kew's botanists have classified plants by analysing their form and physical characteristics. Today our scientists are supplementing the old methods with DNA analysis. This modern technique is helping Kew break new ground, and throwing up some unusual relationships between plants.
Working in partnership
At any one time, Kew is working with around 800 organisations across 300 projects in around 50 countries. Kew also works in collaboration with local communities around the world to help them learn more about native plant life, improve their quality of life and use plants sustainably.
- How working together helps us deliver vital plant conservation around the world.
- Building global networks.
Maintaining Kew's collections
Kew’s living collection includes 178,000 plants (from over 19,300 species) growing in the Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst, and the Herbarium houses around 7 million dried and pressed plant specimens and preserved collections. Our plants reflect global plant diversity and we continually update our living collection to represent the world’s flora.
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
Science & Conservation news
07 Mar 2014
William Milliken, Head of Kew's Tropical America team, examines the importance of Kew's collection of over seven million herbarium specimens, and how this resource is being used to tackle the global challenges of our time.
21 Feb 2014
André Schuiteman, senior researcher in orchids at Kew, relates the discovery by the intrepid Evelyn Cheesman of one of the very few blue-flowered epiphytic orchids, Dendrobium azureum, which he recently described as a new species.
14 Feb 2014
Madeleine Groves, the CITES Implementation Officer at Kew, describes how the application of science can help combat illegal wildlife trade.
08 Nov 2012
A new study from Kew suggests that Arabica coffee could be extinct in the wild within 70 years.