A fungus from the family Psathyrellaceae decomposing bark chippings near the Sackler Crossing at Kew
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State of the World's Fungi

Fungi are incredible. Whether healer or destroyer, they are vital to all life on Earth. In our ground-breaking report, Kew has brought fungi out of the shadows.

State of the World's Fungi

Kew has released the first ever State of the World's Fungi report revealing how important fungi are to all life on Earth.

Yet they rarely get the attention they deserve, especially as they are hidden in our soil, or within the bodies of plants, animals and even other fungi.Some cannot even be seen with the naked eye

From those that cause havoc, to those that can heal, the report highlights the very pressing issues affecting their diversity and abundance. 

Over 100 scientists from over 18 countries have contributed to this work, calling for greater effort to be made to understand this forgotten kingdom. 

Explore the State of the World's fungi report and our science



Highlights

Food

Fungi are a source of nutritious food, lifesaving medicines and biotechnology. 

From quorn, to bread, booze and even cheese they underpin a vital role in food production. 

At least 350 species of fungi are collected and eaten. China is the largest edible mushroom producer in the world, providing over 25 million jobs.

Edible mushroom

Plants

One of the UK’s favourite plant families, orchids, are entirely dependent on fungi to germinate and survive. 

In fact, 90% of living plant species depend on fungi to access essential nutrients through their roots. 

Even though fungi are more closely related to animals than plants, they are absolutely vital to keeping them alive.  

Only 56 species have had their conservation status globally evaluated - compmared to 25,452 plants and 68,054 animals.

Gymnosporangium przewalskii  in China

Killers

Whilst this, some fungi pose the greatest threats to our ecosystem. 

Myrtle rust has now been detected in Austria, with potential to infect over 1,000 native species.

The ash dieback fungus has spread from Poland across Europe, targeting 955 other species that live in association with the ash tree.

The Dutch elm disease has effectively eliminated a tree species from its ecosystem, with a knock on effect in the community.

Cells of Rhodotorula taiwanensis growing under high levels of chronic ionising radiation (36 Gy/h) in highly acid conditions (i.e. pH 2.3).

Fungi at Kew

A forgotten kingdom

Colombia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. Yet there are parts of the country still unexplored by scientists. 

Together with the Colombian government, Kew mycologists have been venturing to Boyacá to close the gap and assess the country's rich diversity. 

Watch the video now

Fungus in Boyacá

Grow Wild

Ever wondered what's in your back garden? We want to inspire you to get back in touch with nature and see for yourself why fungi matters.

With our handy tools and tips, we've got everything you need to create a fungal paradise. 

Get your tips now

Fungi and crocuses

The Fungarium

We've got over 1.25 million dried specimens in our collection. It's one of the largest, oldest and most important collections in the world. 

With samples from seven continents, it represents over half of the known global diversity of fungi. 

Explore more of our amazing resources

Lee in the fungarium