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Plants and fungi

Fritillaria imperialis at Kew Gardens on 3 May 2013

Kew's scientists work across the globe to discover, describe and conserve plants and fungi ensuring the sustainability of the multiple ecosystem services they provide for human well-being.

These include the role of plants and fungi in regulating services, such as carbon cycling or water regulation, provisioning services, including food, fuel and medicine, and cultural services.

Use this page to explore the fascinating world of plants and fungi, browse more than 400 plant profiles, find out more about plants which are useful to humans and read about Kew's valuable work.

Search plants and fungi by name

Useful plants: vanilla

Vanilla planifolia is the source of vanilla, one of the most popular flavours in the world, and weight for weight, one of the most valuable spice crops.

After pollination vanilla pods develop and these are used to make the flavour we know and love

It is a tropical vine which can reach a length of over 30 metres and has thick, fleshy stems with greenish flowers that open early in the morning. Besides being used as a flavouring, vanilla is also among the most important ingredients in perfumery.

Read about Vanilla planifolia

Resources and databases

Pink flower of the Madagascar periwinkle

Search for a plant name and browse our specialist resources, packed with information and data about plants.

Check a plant name with The Plant List

eMonocots - a global resource for monocotyledons

Legumes of the World

More resources and databases from Kew


Intoxicated by Kew

Mind altering plants arrive at Kew this autumn. Book online to save 10%

Intoxication Season branded promo

Why People Need Plants

A compelling book from Kew Publishing that explores the crucial role that plants play in the everyday lives of all of us.

image of book cover

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Book of the month

Plants: from roots to riches - a companion to the series.

Plants: From Roots to Riches, a landmark Radio 4 series

Framed prints

Enjoy a framed picture in your own home with a botanical print.

Rachel Pedder-Smith's Herbarium Specimen painting

Shop online

Tea towel and bag with designs by Holly Francesca.

Tea towel and bag with designs by Holly Francesca

Unlimited entry

To the Gardens for you and a family member. £72 per year.

Summer dedding display by the Broadwalk