Sharing our data
Kew’s collections include over 19'000 plant species growing in the Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst, over 7 million plant specimens in the Herbarium and the largest fungarium in the world (containing over 1.2 million fungal specimens). These collections underpin Kew’s scientific research.
Kew's Herbarium houses over seven million plant specimens
Kew and its partners worldwide produce a widely accessible range of information on plant diversity which we are committed to making broadly accessible. More details on the range of information available can be found in the databases and publications area.
Kew’s many collections encompass over 19,000 plant species growing in the Gardens at Kew and Wakehurst, and over seven million plant specimens in the Herbarium. A herbarium is a collection of preserved plant specimens.
Kew's historical Herbarium collection includes around 350,000 ‘types’ (original specimens on which descriptions of new plant species were based). Kew also holds more than 150,000 books and a similar number of pamphlets on botanical topics, plus more than 200,000 botanical illustrations.
These collections not only underpin Kew’s scientific research but are a global resource available to scientists around the world. They enable Kew's botanists to identify new plant species, re-evaluate and update taxonomic classifications (how different plant species are related to one another), make decisions on which plant species or habitats to conserve and analyse changes to the world’s flora through time.
As new expeditions bring back more material, this is incorporated into our collections. The Herbarium alone receives around 35'000 new additions to its collection each year.
Providing access for all
Kew is committed to making its resources accessible to botanists around the world. Scientists visit the Gardens each year to make use of the collections in their research and herbarium specimens are sent on load to scientific institutions in other countries. Forensic police, pharmaceutical companies, horticulturalists, agronomists and historians also rely on information from Kew's collections.
Embracing the digital age
An easy way for people around the world to access Kew’s resources is over the internet.
Kew's Herbarium Catalogue includes around 170,000 digital images of plant specimens. An additional 70,000 entries offer the details of many more plant specimens held at Kew.
We concentrate our efforts on digitising plant 'type' specimens and collections of particular relevance to biodiversity research and conservation, for example one focus has been on African plants through the African Plants Initiative and another has been on priority species for seed collections by the Millennium Seed Bank Partnership. The latter provides support to plant conservationists and other fieldworkers around the world, and helps them to focus their work around collecting the seed of economically important, endemic (restricted to a particular region) and endangered plant species.
The process of digitising herbarium specimens involves scanning dried specimens of plants, or photographing those plants that are preserved in spirit, and inputting related information into our database. Kew's work in this area is ongoing. Browse the Herbarium Catalogue.
Help Kew break new ground
By making a donation to Kew today you can help our scientists to find out more about the fascinating world of plants, break new ground and inspire generations of young people to get to know plants better.
Our scientific programmes are focused on understanding plants and conserving the world's plant life and habitats at risk. Plants are essential to life on earth. In a world where the sustainability of the planet’s rich biodiversity is becoming less certain, Kew’s science work is ever more critical. Find out how your donation can make a difference.
Scientific Research & Data
- DNA Bank Database
- Economic Botany Collection
- Electronic Plant Information Centre (ePIC)
- Herbarium catalogue
- International Plant Names Index (IPNI)
- Library catalogue
- Living collections
- Millennium Seed Bank - Seed List
- Seed Information Database
- Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands
- World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
- Resources A-Z
Keep up to date with events and news from Kew
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Science & Conservation news
10 Jun 2013
Scientists at Kew Gardens have discovered compounds new to science in ordinary elderflower drinks.
10 Jun 2013
Letter and plans from Kew's Directors' Correspondence archive give a glimpse into the humble beginnings of one of botany's most revered institutions - Missouri Botanical Garden - and its founder Henry Shaw.
08 Nov 2012
A new study from Kew suggests that Arabica coffee could be extinct in the wild within 70 years.
18 May 2010
Kew’s top propagation ‘code-breaker’, horticulturist Carlos Magdalena, has cracked the enigma of growing a rare species of African waterlily. The 'thermal’ lily (Nymphaea thermarum) is believed to be the smallest waterlily in the world, with pads that can be as little as 1 cm in diameter.