State of the World's Plants

Kew Garden’s “State of the World’s Plants” report provides fascinating insight about the modern understanding of plants.

By Hannah Kincaid

Winter 2016-2017

State of the Worlds Plants

The “State of the World’s Plants” report provides fascinating botanical insight.

Photo courtesy Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew

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Kew Gardens has published its first State of the World’s Plants report. The document was produced by a large team of researchers who combed through databases to organize worldwide botanical knowledge into three categories: what we currently know about global plant populations; identified plant threats; and international plant trade.

Scientists now know there are approximately 391,000 vascular plant species, of which 31,128 have a documented use (see “Plants by the Numbers,” below). The top three countries for identifying new plant species are Brazil, Australia, and China. In 2015 alone, 2,034 new plant species were discovered, including the Drosera magnifica, a carnivorous sundew that can grow to nearly 5 feet tall.

Plants by the Numbers

Uses for the 31,128 plant species with a documented benefit:

• 17,810 Medicines
• 11,365 Materials
• 8,140 Environmental uses
• 5,538 Human foods
• 5,338 Gene sources
• 3,649 Animal foods
• 2,503 Poisons
• 1,621 Fuels
• 1,382 Social uses
• 683 Invertebrate foods

For even more fascinating facts about the world’s botanical wonders, go to