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The MPNS Resource

The current version of the Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) Resource is V13, published December 2023.

The Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) Resource contains:

  • all pharmaceutical, herbal drug, common and scientific plant names as cited for plants or herbal drugs in any of the medicinal plant and health regulatory literature reviewed by MPNS to date
  • the parts of the plants used and the form that these herbal drugs cited in those publications
  • an authoritative and current scientific nomenclature, synonymy and taxonomy for these plants drawn from Kew’s botanical reference resources.

Version 13 contains data records

  • drawn from 361 pharmaceutical or medicinal plant publications
  • covering 38,013 plants from 389 families of angiosperms or gymnosperms.

The taxonomy in MPNS is refreshed with each new version to reflect continual improvement of Kew’s global reference resources as they are extended and curated to reflect changes made in recent taxonomic literature.

Using the Resource

The easiest way to access the MPNS Resource is by entering any plant or herbal drug name in the search field above. This will enable you to find, for example:

  • a list of plants associated with your search term
  • the currently accepted scientific name for a plant, all of its synonyms and its plant family
  • the medicinal references which cite this plant and the various (and conflicting) names employed for them
  • which parts of that plant have been used medicinally and in what form

A user might

  • link a herbal drug cited in the 3rd edition of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia to the name(s) employed for those same plants in the US Herbs of Commerce or
  • obtain a list of all names employed for that plant in the botanical or medicinal literature.
  • search PubMed for ALL publications referring to a plant regardless of which scientific name was used by each publication.

Other MPNS information services are described here.

Headline statistics

Names from the medicinal plant literature

Version 13 of MPNS includes the following names captured from the medicinal literature:

  • 57,445 unique scientific names which were cited 190,937 times.
  • 255,614 unique non-scientific names which were cited 342,515 times including
    • 3,044 unique pharmaceutical names and
    • 252,656 unique herbal drug and common names in multiple languages and scripts.

Names from botanical reference sources

Version 13 of MPNS contains records relating to 38,013 plants for which it contains:

  • 323,455 scientific plant names drawn from Kew’s global taxonomic reference sources
  • 37,800 “Accepted“ names of which
    • 34,509 are of species
    • 3,291 are of subspecies or varieties.
  • 213 provisionally accepted names which remain taxonomically “Unassessed”.
  • 285,442 scientific names known to be “synonyms” for one of the above plants.

NB: Definitions of taxonomic status are given in the MPNS FAQ page.

Confidence levels

The reliability of the nomenclature and taxonomy presented for individual species varies depending upon the level of taxonomic scrutiny and review that each Genus or Family has undergone. 

To assist interpretation, MPNS assigns a three-tier confidence level to each plant (our FAQ page includes explanation of these levels).  Of the plants contained in Version 13 of the MPNS Resource:

  • 47% have a 3-star confidence (maximum reliability)
  • 52% have a 2-star confidence
  • 1% have a 1-star confidence (minimum reliability).

Medicinal Plant References

The medicinal plant and health regulatory literature reviewed to date can be seen here. The list includes:
•    pharmacopoeias
•    monographs
•    ethnobotanical surveys
•    regional works

References were selected for inclusion guided by the following objectives:

  1. To cover references of regulatory importance, for example pharmacopoeias and the EMA community herbal monographs
  2. To cover references that reflect the most commonly traded medicinal plants
  3. To be global in scope
  4. The source is readily used/accessible and available to us for inclusion in a practical way.

New medicinal plant publications will be added to MPNS improving our coverage of relevant literature.  Please contact us if you know of additional references which you feel should be included.

New References

MPNS Version 13 contains data drawn from 361 medicinal data sources.

157 sources are new to this Version. Among many new sources of significance, Version 13 includes:

  • Carag, H.M. & Buot, I.E. (2017). A Checklist of The Orders and Families of Medicinal Plants in the Philippines. The Technical Journal of Philippine Ecosystems and Natural Resources. 27 (1-2): 49-9.
  • Committee on Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy (2003). Compendium of Medicinal Plants Used by the Indigenous People of Taiwan. Committee on Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy, China.
  • DKRI (2017). Farmakope Herbal Indonesia (2nd edn). Departemen Kesehatan Republik Indonesia, Indonesia.
  • Khare, C.P. (2007). Indian Medicinal Plants: An Illustrated Dictionary. Springer, New York.
  • Pessoa da Silva, M., Melo de Barros, R.F. & Moita Neto, J.M. (2015). Farmacopeia Natural de Comunidades Rurais no Estado do Piauí, Nordeste do Brasil. Meio Ambiente. 33: 193-207.
  • Petersen, L.M., Moll, E.J., Collins, R. & Hockings, M.T. (2012). Development of a Compendium of Local, Wild-Harvested Species Used in the Informal Economy Trade, Cape Town, South Africa. Ecology and Society. 17 (2): 26.
  • United States Pharmacopeial Convention (ed.) (2020). The United States Pharmacopeia USP 43. The National Formulary NF 38. 2020. United States Pharmacopeial Convention, Rockville.

Details of all data sources cited can be seen here.

We continue to add references to improve global coverage. We seek partnerships with those managing ethnobotanical or pharmacovigilance resources for whom we will update and enrich their plant names content in return for including their plant names records in MPNS.

Version History

  • Version 13.0 – from 05 December 2023
  • Version 12.0 – from 17 January 2023
  • Version 11.0 – from 1 December 2021
  • Version 10.0 – from 28 February 2021
  • Version 9.0 – from 16 January 2020
  • Version 8.0 – from 8 May 2018
  • Version 7.0 – from 11 May 2017
  • Version 6.0 – from 5 October 2016
  • Version 5.0 – from 6 July 2016
  • Version 4.0 – from 21 March 2016
  • Version 3.0 – from 14 October 2015  
  • Version 2.0 – from 1 May 2015 
  • Version 1.0 – from 2 Sept 2014