Medicinal Plant Names Services

A global nomenclatural indexing and reference service for medicinal plants aimed at those involved in global health, regulation and research.

Bags of Chinese herbs

Visit the MPNS portal (V12 was released January 2023)

Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) provides a global nomenclatural indexing and reference resource enabling health professionals and researchers to access information about plants and plant products relevant to pharmacological research, health regulation, and traditional medicine.

Medicinal plants are used globally and are known by different names in different communities, health traditions, generations and languages. The same name may be applied to several different species.

To find all information published about a particular plant it is necessary to underpin its identity with an unambiguous scientific name in order to find all the names that may have been used for the plant, and any possible confusion caused by ambiguous terms.

Organisations and individuals working in the health and research sectors, as well as those in the herbal or pharmaceutical industries, need to access information about plants and to communicate with one another accurately and effectively.

Please also read about our new initiative: Plants for Health

Who we are

Programme Manager 
Bob Allkin

Senior Developer
Nick Black

Digital Resources Manager
Kristina Patmore

Botanical Data Officer
Tiziana Cossu

Patricia van Eijndthoven
John Haspineall
Mabel Hernández-Altamirano
Wen-Hsin Tsou

MPNS partners

  • Food Databanks National Capability, Quadram Institute, Norwich, UK
  • Institute. of Ayurvedic and Alternative Medicine, Beruwela, Sri Lanka
  • University of Trans-disciplinary Health Sciences and Technology, Bengaluru, India
  • Uppsala Monitoring Centre, World Health Organisation, International Drug Monitoring, Sweden
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration, Washington, USA

MPNS Contributors

  • Prof. Dr Mushtaq Ahmad,"Medicinal Plants of Pakistan", Department of Plant Sciences, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan. 
  • Prof. Dipankar Borah, “Names of Useful plants of Northeast India”. Developed by the members of the Ethnobotany of Northeast India group.
  • Dr. Ria Cahyaningsih, "Genetic Conservation and Sustainable Use of Indonesian Medicinal Plants", Research Center for Plant Conservation Research and Botanical Gardens, National Research and Innovation, Bogor, Indonesia 
  • Dr. William Milliken, “Plants for Malaria, Plants for Fever”, RBG, Kew.
  • Rebecca Lazarou, "Plants and minerals in Byzantine popular pharmacy", RBG, Kew.
  • Prof. Roja Rahimi and Roodabeh Bahramsoltani, "Traditional Persian Medicinal Plants", School of Persian Medicine, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.
  • Dr. Uwe Schippmann, "Medicinal and Aromatic Plant Resources of the World”, Bonn, Germany
  • Dr. Jens Soelberg, "Useful Plants of Wakhan and Pamir", Museum of Natural Medicine, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
  • Tea and Herbal Infusions Europe (THIE), “THIE Inventory List of Herbals Considered as Food”.


We are grateful to the following charitable trusts for providing seed funding:

  • The Wellcome Trust
  • The Wolfson Family Charitable Trust

What we offer

  • An online portal which provides access to medicinal plant data and medicinal plant reference citations using any pharmaceutical, drug, common or scientific plant names.
  • Validation We can validate, update and enrich your list(s) of plant names. We'll also correct spellings, detect ambiguities and duplication and provide a consistent modern plant taxonomy. Your dataset can be enriched with all known synonyms for each plant and we can embed persistent digital identifiers to facilitate data maintenance and future updates.
  • Harmonisation This involves, for example, mapping your list of plants onto lists used by other organisations or that are published in legislation. In addition, we can validate both lists, detect gaps and overlaps ensuring a coherent single list and reliable data exchange despite the use of different names in the multiple lists.
  • Data We can supply subsets of MPNS data tailored for use in your own database.
  • Web updates We offer a web-service for regularly refreshing plant names data.
  • Consultancy Contact us for expert advice on the use and interpretation of medicinal plant names, on devising workflows to capture and store scientific plant names appropriately, and on how to design database structures to manage scientific plant and herbal drug names appropriately.
  • Training We provide specialist best-practice training for people working with medicinal plants or building medicinal plant databases to promote safe, efficient working practices and advice in best practice, workflows and systems design. Find out more about our training programme Use of Scientific Plant Names for Herbal Products.

Access the MPNS Resource

The MPNS portal enables users to disambiguate the names of plants and herbal substances, discovering the currently accepted scientific name for each plant, all of its synonyms and the medicinal references citing this plant.

MPNS records which plant parts and trade forms are cited in each medicinal source along with the diverse names employed for the plant and derived substances.

The nomenclature and taxonomy of these plants are refreshed regularly to reflect continual improvement in Kew’s global plant names reference resources.

MPNS Version 12 was published in January 2023 and contains data relating to:

  • 35,407 plants (an increase of 3% on V11)
  • 220 pharmaceutical or medicinal plant publications and data sources 
  • 308,800 unique scientific names
  • 209,583 unique pharmaceutical, drug or common plant names in multiple languages and scripts

Search the MPNS portal

Get involved

Medicinal Plant Names Services is interested to hear from organisations and individuals wanting to join the User Group or to work with us as partners.

For further information about any aspect of Medicinal Plant Names Services, please contact us at:

Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS),
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew,
Richmond, TW9 3AE, UK 

Contact us:
Receive updates about our work: Sign up to the MPNS newsletter
Find us on Facebook: MPNS Facebook page
Follow us on Twitter: Tweets by @MPNS_Kew

Data protection 
The Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, will use your personal data for the purposes of managing and processing your application, including for record keeping and enquiry purposes. Please take time to read our Privacy Policy which explains in more detail what data we collect and why, how we use it and other information relevant to the privacy of your data.

Updates from MPNS

  • Close up of Yarrow white flowers

    Drug Safety Matters

    Listen to the podcast episode 'Navigating the plant names jungle' from WHO’s Uppsala Monitoring Centre’s podcast series on pharmacovigilance and patient safety.

  • Bluebell at Kew

    "What's in a name?"

    How Kew helps drug regulators disambiguate the messy welter of medicinal plant names to shore up regulation and save lives.

  • Pink flowers

    Kew’s Plant Names Services adopted by global health

    Find out how Kew’s Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) is involved in helping the world’s health regulators to ensure that herbal products are traded safely by supporting development of an important new medicinal standard.

  • Herbal medicines on sale in South Korea

    Names matter: trade of threatened medicinal plants

    Why do plant names pose practical problems for the regulation of international trade in medicinal plants? And what are the Medicinal Plant Names Service (MPNS) are doing to help?