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Kew's Science Collections

With over 8.5 million items, Kew houses the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world. They represent approximately 95% of vascular plant genera and 60% of fungal genera.

Kew's Science Collections

Kew’s Science Collections Strategy

For the first time in Kew’s history, there is a formal strategy to set out a framework for managing, developing and providing greater access to the Science Collections over the next decade.


Kew’s Herbarium contains around seven million preserved vascular plant specimens. These specimens contain a wealth of information about plants that have been collected around the world over the past 170 years.


Kew's Fungarium contains specimens from every part of the globe and reflects the importance of fungi as providers of food, medicines, enzymes and essential ecosystem services.

Seed Collection

Within the vaults of the Millennium Seed Bank is the Seed Collection, which represents the greatest concentration of living seed-plant diversity on earth. The bank is a global resource for conservation and sustainable use of plants.

Economic Botany Collection

Kew's Economic Botany Collection illustrates the extent of human use of plants around the world and also includes 500 specimens of fungi. The huge variety of objects includes artefacts made from plants as well as raw plant materials, such as wood samples.

DNA and Tissue Bank

Kew’s DNA and Tissue Bank contains approximately 58,000 samples representing nearly all families (507 families), and over half the genera (around 7,100) of flowering plants. The composition of the collection reflects studies carried out at Kew over the last 24 years.

Microscope Slide Collection

Kew’s Microscope Slide Collection holds around 150,000 specimens from a diverse range of plant taxa, particularly from seed-producing plants. The slides include leaf surfaces and sections, pollen, wood, roots and chromosomes.

Spirit Collection

Kew’s Spirit Collection consists of over 76,000 plant specimens preserved in fluid and stored in glass jars.

In Vitro Collection

The In Vitro Collection at Kew consists of plant specimens and fungi that have been cultured in artificial growing media. The collection includes 6,000 specimens, including orchids and mycorrhizal and non-mycorrhizal fungi.


Kew’s Library contains nearly 2,000 years of plant knowledge and discovery including information on the naming, classification and uses of plants, plant ecology and conservation, and wild plants of the world.

Illustrations and Artefact Collections

The Illustrations and Artefact Collections are a world-renowned resource for botanical illustration forming an exceptional visual record for species of plants and fungi.

The Archive Collection

The Archive Collection forms a valuable and unique resource on the history of the discovery, study, transfer and use of the world's plants and fungi.

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