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The MPNS Resource

Current version of the Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) Resource is V10, published February 2021.

The Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) Resource contains:

  • all pharmaceutical, herbal drug, common and scientific plant names as they were used 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 10 contains data records

  • drawn from  191 pharmaceutical or medicinal plant publications
  • covering  33,443 plants from 376 families of angiosperm or gymnosperm.

The taxonomy in MPNS is refreshed regularly 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 10 of MPNS includes the following names captured from the medicinal literature:

  • 46,506 unique scientific names which were cited 127,163 times.
  • 203,029 unique non-scientific names which were cited 271,739 times including
  • 2,811 unique pharmaceutical names and
  • 200,266 unique herbal drug and common names in multiple languages and scripts.

Names from botanical reference sources

Version 10 of MPNS contains records relating to 33,443 plants for which it contains:

  • 312,893 scientific plant names drawn from Kew’s global taxonomic reference sources
  • 33,241 “Accepted“ names of which
    • 31,086 are of species
    • 2,155 are of subspecies or varieties.
  • 202 provisionally accepted names which remain taxonomically “Unassessed”.
  • 279,450 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-point confidence level to each plant (our FAQ page includes explanation of these levels).  Of the plants contained in Version 10 of the MPNS Resource:

  • 40 % have a 3-star confidence (maximum reliability)
  • 59 % 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 10 contains data drawn from 191 medicinal data sources.

21 sources are new to this Version. These include:

  • Traditional Persian Medicinal Plants Database. Rahimi, R. & Bahramsoltani, R. (2018).
  • Studies on Conservation Technique of Endangered Medicinal Plant Resources in Arid Desert Region. Lang, T., Xia, J., Wu, C. & Deng, Q. (2017).
  • Medicinal Plant Biodiversity Used Among the Rural Communities of Arid Regions of Northern Punjab, Pakistan. Ashfaq, S., Ahmad, M., Zafar, M., Sultana, S., Bahadur, S. & Abbas, N. (2019).

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 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