Kew's iconic plants

From ancient trees and the world's oldest pot plant to the famous - and foul-smelling - titan arum, Kew's flagship plants flourish under the care of its horticulturists. Come and visit them today...

Ginkgo biloba leaf

Maidenhair tree

The maidenhair tree has been around since the days of the dinosaurs, and trees growing just 1-2 km from the atom bomb blast at Hiroshima in 1945 were among the few living things to survive.


Monkey puzzle tree (Araucaria araucana)

Monkey puzzle

Archibald Menzies, a botanist and naval surgeon, brought the first five monkey puzzle saplings to the UK in 1795. Chile declared the monkey puzzle tree a national monument in 1990.


Lirodendron tulip

North American tulip tree

The Native Americans of the Appalachian Mountains used trunks of this tree to make dugout canoes – massive logs were hollowed out and could carry up to 20 people at a time.

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Oriental plane (Platanus orientalis) outside the Orangery

Oriental plane

The oriental plane had arrived in England by 1562. It was reported that the finest specimen known belonged to Bishop Gunning at Ely in 1764.

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Pagoda tree (Styphnolobium japonicum)

Pagoda tree

This tree is infamous in Chinese culture; in folklore demons are said to be drawn to it. The last Ming Emporer, Chongzhen, hung himself from a pagoda tree after peasants stormed the Forbidden City in 1644.

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Stone pine bark

Stone pine

Stone pines produce the European type of pine nuts used in pesto – millions of kilograms are harvested every year in the Mediterranean. Unfortunately it is usually too cold in the UK for our trees to ripen seeds, so we have no pine nut harvest.


Sweet chestnut (Castanea sativa)

Sweet chestnut

The sweet chestnut was probably brought to the UK by the Romans. For centuries since it has been much loved for its tasty seeds. They have been used to make flour, a roasted winter snack, porridge, marron glacés, a wartime coffee substitute, turkey stuffing, and a fine Corsican beer.


Titan arum

Titan arum

One of the most spectacular plants to be found in the wet tropics zone of the Princess of Wales Conservatory at Kew Gardens is the titan arum. 


Tuner's oak close up

Turner's oak

This deep-rooted tree survived the great storm of 1987. It was partially uprooted by the winds, but gained new vigour afterwards – leading Kew’s staff to a new tree-care discovery.

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Wollemi pine (Wollemia nobilis)

Wollemi pine

The Wollemi pine was thought to have been extinct for two million years until 1994 when New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Officer David Noble came across a cluster of unusual trees in a rainforest gorge within the Wollemi National Park in Australia’s Blue Mountains.


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