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The MPNS Resource

Current version of the Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) Resource is V8.0, published May 2018.

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 8 of the MPNS Resource was published in May 2018.

Version 8 contains data records

  • drawn from  153 pharmaceutical or medicinal plant publications
  • covering  26,799 plants from 383 families of angiosperm or gymnosperm.
  1. 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

  1. Names from the medicinal plant literature

Version 8 of MPNS includes the following names captured from the medicinal literature:

  • 32,790 unique scientific names which were cited 86,601 times.
  • 103,632 unique non-scientific names which were cited 144,290 times including
  • 2,551 unique pharmaceutical names and
  • 101,112 unique herbal drug and common names in multiple languages and scripts.
  1. Names from botanical reference sources

For the 26,799 plants included, MPNS Version 8 contains 248, 294 scientific plant names drawn from Kew’s taxonomic reference resources:

  • 26,507 names considered “Accepted“ names,  of which
    • 24,989 are of species
    • 1,518 are of subspecies or varieties.
  • 292 names of provisionally accepted species which remain taxonomically “Unassessed”.
  • 221,495 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 8 of the MPNS Resource:

  • 42 % have a 3-star confidence/reliability
  • 56 % have a 2-star confidence/reliability
  • 2 % have a 1-star confidence/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 8 contains data drawn from 153 medicinal plant references of which 10 are new to this Version. These include:

  • Herbal Medicines (3rd edn.) Barnes, J., Anderson, L.A. & Phillipson, J.D. (2007).
  • Noongar Bush Medicine: Medicinal Plants of the South-West of Western Australia. Hansen, V. & Horsfall, J. (2016).
  • Developing a library of authenticated Traditional Chinese Medicinal (TCM) plants for systematic biological evaluation: Rationale, methods and preliminary results from a Sino-American collaboration. Eisenberg, D.M., et al. (2011). Fitoterapia 82:17-33.

Details of all 153 references cited in Version 8 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 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