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 (V9 of the database was released January 2020)

Our 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, traditional medicine and functional foods. The MPNS also provides a range of information services.

Medicinal plants are used globally and are known by different names in different communities, health traditions, generations and languages. The same name can also be applied to different species. So in order to find all information published about a particular plant, and to ensure that you are sharing data about the same species, you need to know all the possible names that have been used, and any possible confusions.

Organisations and individuals often use different names for the same plant. Professionals working in the health and research sectors, for example, as well as those in the herbal or pharmaceutical industries, all need to access information about plants and to communicate accurately and effectively about them.

What we offer

  • An online portal provides access to medicinal plant data and medical citations using any pharmaceutical, drug, common or scientific plant name.
  • Validation We can validate, update and enrich your list(s) of plant names. We'll also correct spellings, detect ambiguities and duplication, 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 for your own database.
  • Web updates We offer a 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 re: best practice, workflows and systems design. Find out more about our workshop Use of Scientific Plant Names for Herbal Products.

Who we are

Programme Manager 
Bob Allkin

Our partners and supporters

We are grateful to the following charitable trusts for their continuing support:

  • The Wellcome Trust
  • The Wolfson Family Charitable Trust


Amparo Rodrigues
U.S. Food and Drug Administration
European Medicines Agency
Food Databanks National Capability (FDNC)

Access the MPNS Resource

Version 9 was published in January 2020 and contains:

  • data records drawn from 170 pharmaceutical or medicinal plant publications, covering 27,734 plants from 365 families of angiosperm or gymnosperm
  • names from the medicinal plant literature: 33,719 unique scientific names which were cited 89,545 times; 105,677 unique non-scientific names which were cited 146,827 times including 2,563 unique pharmaceutical names and 103,147 unique herbal drug and common names in multiple languages and scripts
  • names botanical reference sources: for the 27,734 plants included, there are 265,785 scientific plant names drawn from Kew’s taxonomic reference resources

This will enable you to find, for example: 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.

The taxonomy 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. 

Access the MPNS Resource


Get involved

Medicinal Plant Names Services is interested to hear of  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, Surrey, TW9 3AE, UK 

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