National plant collections

Hampton Court Palace is the holder of three important National Plant Collections – Heliotropium, Lantana and Queen Mary II’s Exoticks which is designated a Heritage Collection.

The Plant Heritage National Plant Collection® scheme awards National Plant Collection status to organisations who undertake to document, develop and preserve a comprehensive collection of one group of plants in trust for the future.

National Plant Collection: Heliotropium ‘Cherry Pie Plant’

Heliotropium was the first of our plant collections to be designated a National Plant Collection® in 2000. There are 27 cultivars and 2 specie in the collection.

Heliotropium were first grown at Hampton Court in the 19th century for the new bedding plant displays in the Great Fountain Garden when the gardens were opened to the public. We still use our heliotropium collection in our bedding schemes today – look out for them in the summer.

Heliotropium is also known as the ‘Cherry Pie Plant’ as its small purple flowers smell of cherry and vanilla.

National Plant Collection: Lantana ‘American shrub verbena’

Hampton Court became National Plant Collection holders of Lantana in 2008. There are 37 cultivar and 1 specie in the collection.

This plant first appeared in Exotick collections in the 17th century. It is a fascinating plant as many cultivars have flowers that change their colour as they mature. Yellows become white and oranges turn purple - it is a real wonder of nature.

Look out for Lantana in our bedding schemes around the palace gardens in the summer.

National Plant Collection: Queen Mary II Exoticks 

Our famous collection of Queen Mary II’s Exoticks is recognised as a Heritage Collection. Mary II (r1689-1694) had one of the largest private collections of plants in the world. She had plants imported from as far afield as the Mediterranean, Virginia, the Caribbean and Mauritius for display here at Hampton Court Palace.

Parts of Mary’s collection survived until the First World War when lack of manpower and attention led to the last plants dying out. Since 1987, our Gardens & Estate team have researched the specimens in Mary’s collection and collected them once more and brought them back to Hampton Court. This conservation collection has been re-created to display in the Orangery and Privy gardens. There are 215 specie in the collection.