Local people on the Avenue of the Baobabs, Morondava, Madagascar (Credit: Gavin Evans, licensed under CC-by-SA 3.0)

State of the World's Plants

Kew Science has launched its second State of the World's Plants report, providing a cutting-edge horizon scan and taking stock of the world's most valuable and vulnerable plants.

State of the World's Plants Report

The 2017 State of the World’s Plants report aims to provide an overview of current knowledge of the world's plants. Building on the success of last year's report, this year we look not only at the numbers of plants, but also why they are important and what makes some plants more resilient than others to threats of climate change, wildfires and pests.

Scientists from around the globe have worked in collaboration with Kew Science to scrutinise databases, published literature, policy documents, reports and satellite imagery to synthesise the latest discoveries and knowledge into this horizon-scanning report.

Explore the data and download the report from stateoftheworldsplants.com  

Introduction to the 2017 report

Highlights of the 2017 report

1: Naming and counting the world’s plant families

How many vascular plant families are there and how do we determine them? What are the smallest and largest plant families? Which plant families are of greatest economic importance?

2: New plant species discovered in 2016

What number of vascular plant species new to science were named in 2016? What are some of the most interesting new plants and where were they found?

3: Plant genomes

What plant species are being selected for whole genome sequencing and why? How is the new knowledge generated from these whole genome sequences being used in both fundamental and applied biological questions?

4: Useful plants – medicines

How many plant species are currently used as medicines? As traditional plant-based medicines become more widely accepted in mainstream health systems what are the mains issues and risks that need to be considered?

5: Important Plant Areas

How many Important Plant Areas (IPAs) are now recognised globally? How effective are IPAs in protecting plant biodiversity? Currently, what are the greatest threats to
IPAs in Europe and the Mediterranean region?

6: Country focus – status of knowledge of Madagascan plants

Each year we take a closer look at the status of plants in a particular region. This year we look at the current status of knowledge on plants in Madagascar.

7: Climate change

Which plant traits will enable species to tolerate both current and future climate change? Are there particular physical, physiological and/or life cycle characteristics that determine the winners?

8: Global land-cover change – wildfires

How much of the Earth’s terrestrial surface burns each year? Is the rate of burning increasing? Which vegetation biomes burn the most? Which plants are most flammable?

9: Invasive species

What are the most common methods used to control invasive plants? Which countries are carrying out most research on their control? Do different plant forms require different methods? What is the future for the control of invasive plants?

10: Plant health – state of research

What pests pose the biggest threats to plants globally and where is the greatest concentration of research effort on these pests?

11: Extinction risk

Are there particular biological attributes that make some plants more vulnerable to extinction threats than others?

12: Plant conservation policies and international trade

What is the current status of international trade in endangered plant species and how effective are current policies at policing unsustainable or illegal international trade?

Project information

Output Leader: Abigail Barker

Funded by: Sfumato Foundation

State of the World’s Plants Symposium

Scientists and policymakers gathered at Kew on 25–26 May 2017 for the second international State of the World's Plants Symposium.The two-day symposium was a platform to discuss issues raised in the report and to engage the scientific community, policymakers and public alike.

The first international State of the World’s Plants symposium was held at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew in May 2016; the second symposium was held in May 2017. To catch up on previous State of the World's Plants Symposia you can:


The staff and trustees of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Kew Foundation would like to thank the Sfumato Foundation for generously funding the State of the World’s Plants project.