Our collections

With over 8.5 million items, we house the largest and most diverse botanical and mycological collections in the world. They represent approximately 95% of vascular plant genera and 60% of known fungal genera. Here is a guide to the different types of collection we hold.

Kew's Herbarium
  • Kew's Herbarium

    The Herbarium

    This contains around seven million preserved vascular plant specimens, these can yield a wealth of information about plants that have been collected around the world over the past 170 years.

  • A researcher pulling a specimen out of green box

    The Fungarium

    Our 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.

  • Researcher in the MSB cold rooms holding a jar of seeds

    Seed Collection

    Within the vaults of the Millennium Seed Bank (MSB) is the Seed Collection, which represents the greatest concentration of living seed-plant diversity on Earth. The MSB is a global resource for conservation.

  • Economic Botany Collection jars

    Economic Botany Collection

    This collection illustrates the extent of human use of plants and fungi around the world. There is a huge variety of objects including artefacts made from plants as well as wood samples. 

  • Many tubes of DNA

    DNA and Tissue Bank

    Here are 58,000 samples representing nearly all families (507 families), and over half the genera (around 7,100) of flowering plants. These samples reflect previous studies carried out at Kew.

  • Microscope slides

    Microscope Slide Collection

    This holds 150,000 specimens from a diverse range of plant taxa, particularly from seed-producing plants. Features preserved include: leaf surfaces and sections, pollen, wood and roots.

  • Researcher opening drawer, holding a jar

    Spirit Collection

    This collection consists of over 76,000 plant specimens preserved in fluid and stored in glass jars. More than 370 families are represented. The mycology spirit collection has 1,250 specimens.

  • In Vitro Collection

    In Vitro Collection

    Here we house 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.

  • An old book open in the library

    The Library

    We have one of the largest collections of published botanical information in the world, our main subject area is the taxonomy and systematics of wild plants, including collections of herbaria in microform.  

  • Paintings from the Illustrations and Artefacts Collection

    Illustrations and Artefacts Collection

    An extensive resource of more than 200,000 botanical prints and drawings. There are also works on paper, portraits, photographs, and three-dimensional objects that chart the history of botany. 

  • Letter from Kew's Archive

    The Archives Collection

    A valuable resource on the history of the discovery, study, transfer and use of the world’s plants and fungi. Here are the official records of RBG Kew and also the personal papers of many botanists. 

Callistemon citrinus,  the bottlebrush plant

Living Collection

Containing plants from tropical, temperate, arid and alpine climates, our Living Collection is a resource for research and conservation.