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Discover 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.

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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

Why People Need Plants

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

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People & data

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Kew's science teams, databases and publications.

Species browser

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Explore Kew's plant & fungi profiles.