Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is a
non-departmental public body In the United Kingdom, non-departmental public body (NDPB) is a classification applied by the Cabinet Office, Treasury, the Scottish Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to public sector organisations that have a role in the process o ...
in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotland, Wales and No ...
sponsored by the
Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is a department of His Majesty's Government responsible for environmental protection, food production and standards, agriculture, fisheries and rural communities in the United ...
. An internationally important botanical research and education institution, it employs 1,100 staff. Its board of trustees is chaired by Dame Amelia Fawcett. The organisation manages botanic gardens at Kew in Richmond upon Thames in south-west London, and at Wakehurst, a National Trust property in Sussex which is home to the internationally important Millennium Seed Bank, whose scientists work with partner organisations in more than 95 countries. Kew, jointly with the Forestry Commission, founded Bedgebury National Pinetum in Kent in 1923, specialising in growing
conifers Conifers are a group of cone-bearing seed plants, a subset of gymnosperms. Scientifically, they make up the division Pinophyta (), also known as Coniferophyta () or Coniferae. The division contains a single extant class, Pinopsida. All ext ...
. In 1994, the Castle Howard Arboretum Trust, which runs the Yorkshire Arboretum, was formed as a partnership between Kew and the
Castle Howard Castle Howard is a stately home in North Yorkshire, England, within the civil parish of Henderskelfe, located north of York. It is a private residence and has been the home of the Carlisle branch of the Howard family for more than 300 year ...
Estate. In 2019, the organisation had 2,316,699 public visitors at Kew, and 312,813 at Wakehurst. Its site at Kew has 40 historically important buildings; it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003. The collections at Kew and Wakehurst include over 27,000 taxa of living plants, 8.3 million plant and fungal herbarium specimens, and over 40,000 species in the seed bank.


The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew states that its mission is to apply scientific discovery and research to fully develop the information about and potential uses of plants and fungi. A conference held in 1976 by the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew was important as it established a co-ordinating body in order to determine which threatened plants are in cultivation and where they are located which played a role in plant conservation.


Kew is governed by a board of trustees which comprises a chairman and eleven members. Ten members and the chairman are appointed by the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. His Majesty the King appoints his own trustee on the recommendation of the Secretary of State. the Board members are: * Dame Amelia Fawcett (Chair) * Judith Batchelar * Steve Almond * Sarah Flannigan * Professor Christopher Gilligan * Professor Ian Graham * Krishnan Guru-Murthy * Kate Priestman * Sir Paul Nurse * David Richardson * John Scanlon * Jantiene Klein Roseboom van der Veer

Kew Science

Scientific staff

There are approximately 350 researchers working at Kew. The Director of Science is Alexandre Antonelli. The Deputy Directors are Paul Kersey and Monique Simmonds. Kew Science staff include those of the Kew Madagascar Conservation Centre.


The scientific staff at Kew maintain a variety of plant and fungal data and digital resources, including:

Plants of the World Online

Plants of the World Online is an online database launched in March 2017 as one of nine strategic outputs with the ultimate aim being "to enable users to access information on all the world's known seed-bearing plants by 2020". It links taxonomic data with images from the collection, to provide a single point of access with information on identification, distribution, traits, conservation, molecular phylogenies and uses. In addition it serves as a backbone for global resources such as World Flora Online.

International Plant Names Index

The International Plant Names Index (IPNI) includes information from the '' Index Kewensis'', a project which began in the 19th century to provide an "Index to the Names and Authorities of all known flowering plants and their countries". The Harvard University Herbaria and the Australian National Herbarium co-operate with Kew in the IPNI database, which was launched in its present form in 1999 to produce an authoritative source of information on
botanical nomenclature Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from taxonomy. Plant taxonomy is concerned with grouping and classifying plants; botanical nomenclature then provides names for the results of this ...
including publication details of seed plants,
ferns A fern (Polypodiopsida or Polypodiophyta ) is a member of a group of vascular plants (plants with xylem and phloem) that reproduce via spores and have neither seeds nor flowers. The polypodiophytes include all living pteridophytes except ...
lycophytes The lycophytes, when broadly circumscribed, are a vascular plant (tracheophyte) subgroup of the kingdom Plantae. They are sometimes placed in a division Lycopodiophyta or Lycophyta or in a subdivision Lycopodiophytina. They are one of the olde ...
. It is a nomenclatural listing of all published taxonomic plant names including new species, new combinations and new names at rank of botanical family down to infraspecific. It provides data for other related projects including Tropicos and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility ( GBIF).


Information and key to
flowering plant Flowering plants are plants that bear flowers and fruits, and form the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek language, Greek words ('container, vessel') and ('seed'), and refers to ...
s of the
Neotropics The Neotropical realm is one of the eight biogeographic realms constituting Earth's land surface. Physically, it includes the tropical terrestrial ecoregions of the Americas The Americas, which are sometimes collectively called Americ ...
(tropical South and Central America).

World Checklist of Selected Plant Families

The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP) is a register of accepted scientific names and synonyms of 200 selected seed plant families. WCSP is widely used, and most authoritative web resources on plants use it as their basis.

World Checklist of Vascular Plants

The World Checklist of Vascular Plants (WCVP) includes all known vascular plant species (
flowering plant Flowering plants are plants that bear flowers and fruits, and form the clade Angiospermae (), commonly called angiosperms. The term "angiosperm" is derived from the Greek language, Greek words ('container, vessel') and ('seed'), and refers to ...
s, conifers, ferns, clubmosses, and firmosses). It is derived from the WCSP and the IPNI and therefore only includes names found in those databases. It is the taxonomic database for Plants of the World Online. Since WCSP includes only selected families, WCVP will seek to complete the process.

World Checklist of Useful Plant Species

A checklist of 40,292 species, including nine non-plant taxa (e.g.
nostoc ''Nostoc'', also known as star jelly, troll’s butter, spit of moon, fallen star, witch's butter (not to be confused with the fungi commonly known as witches' butter), and witch’s jelly, is the most common genus of cyanobacteria found in va ...
, forkweed, brown algae), compiled from multiple pre-existing datasets.

Collaborative projects

The Plant List

Kew also cooperated with the Missouri Botanical Garden and other international bodies in
The Plant List The Plant List was a list of botanical names of species of plants created by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and the Missouri Botanical Garden and launched in 2010. It was intended to be a comprehensive record of all known names of plant specie ...
(TPL). Unlike the IPNI, it provides information on which names are currently accepted. The Plant List is an Internet encyclopedia project which was launched in 2010 to compile a comprehensive list of
botanical nomenclature Botanical nomenclature is the formal, scientific naming of plants. It is related to, but distinct from taxonomy. Plant taxonomy is concerned with grouping and classifying plants; botanical nomenclature then provides names for the results of this ...
. The Plant List has 1,064,035 scientific plant names of species rank of which 350,699 are accepted species names. In addition, the list has 642 plant families and 17,020 plant genera. It was last updated in 2013, and was superseded by World Flora Online.

World Flora Online

World Flora Online was developed as a successor to The Plant List, in 2012, aiming to include all known plants by 2020.

See also

* Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – its two main sites: ** Kew Gardens ** Wakehurst, West Sussex * Botanists active at Kew Gardens *'' Curtis's Botanical Magazine'', an illustrated publication which began in 1787 and is published by
Wiley-Blackwell Wiley-Blackwell is an international scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly publishing business of John Wiley & Sons. It was formed by the merger of John Wiley & Sons Global Scientific, Technical, and Medical business with Blackwell Publis ...
for the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew * Directors of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew * GrassBase * '' Index Kewensis'', a massive index of plant names started and maintained by Kew Gardens *
Joseph Dalton Hooker Sir Joseph Dalton Hooker (30 June 1817 – 10 December 1911) was a British botanist and explorer in the 19th century. He was a founder of geographical botany and Charles Darwin's closest friend. For twenty years he served as director of ...
, who succeeded his father, William Jackson Hooker, as director in 1865 * '' Kew Bulletin'', a peer-reviewed scientific journal published by
Springer Science+Business Media Springer Science+Business Media, commonly known as Springer, is a German multinational publishing company of books, e-books and peer-reviewed journals in science, humanities, technical and medical (STM) publishing. Originally founded in 1842 i ...
on behalf of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew * The Great Plant Hunt, a primary school science initiative created by Kew Gardens, commissioned and funded by the Wellcome Trust * Kew Gardens (Leases) Act 2019, an Act of Parliament relating to the Gardens



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External links

''A Year at Kew'' – BBC documentary behind the scenes at Kew Gardens
{{authority control 1759 establishments in England Botanical research institutes Charities based in London Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Exempt charities Kew, London Non-departmental public bodies of the United Kingdom government Organisations based in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames Herbaria in the United Kingdom