Discover plants and fungi
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 these pages to explore the fascinating world of plants and fungi, browse more than 400 species profiles, find out more about plants that are useful to humans and read about Kew's valuable work.
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.
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.