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 everyday.
Coffee is the world’s favourite beverage, but the coffee family itself, the Rubiaceae, is actually one of the less well-known plant families.
The Myrtaceae (eucalyptus, clove or guava family) is an ecologically important family containing about 3,800 and 5,600 species.
Fungi are unique and important organisms which belong to their own kingdom, completely separate from plants and animals.
From providing our breakfast cereals to fuelling our cars, grasses are some of the most economically important plants. For instance just three cereals – maize, wheat and rice – provide nearly two-thirds of the calories and half the protein consumed by the world’s population.
The Leguminosae (alternative name Fabaceae) is the third largest flowering plant family, containing 19,325 species, and accounts for over 8% of the world’s flowering plants.
The Lamiaceae, or mint family, is the seventh largest flowering plant family and comprises around 7,000 species worldwide, including woody herbs and climbers, shrubs and trees.
Charles Darwin, in a letter to Kew’s then Director Joseph Hooker, wrote “I was never more interested in any subject in my life, than in this of orchids”.
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
Used for centuries by the indigenous peoples of the Kalahari as a medicinal plant, devil's claw is now also used in Western medicine.