Jason Irving (Kew Gardens) – Medicinal Plant Names Services: Enabling effective communication in health, regulation and research

    The growing international trade in medicinal plants has increased the need for reliable communication between a wide range of communities and professions. Fundamental to this is the use of plant names, however the type of names used and their meanings can vary significantly between the different groups involved in this trade. One name can often refer to several plants, and one plant will be known by many names. Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) aims to improve communication by connecting plant names in published literature to the most recent scientific nomenclature available.

    Building on Kew’s existing taxonomic resources the MPNS resource offers access to up-to-date scientific names and synonymy for medicinal plants, reflecting recent changes in taxonomy and nomenclature. The resource also indexes published scientific synonyms as used in medicinal plant literature, bringing together the range of scientific names used for a species in one place.

    In addition to scientific names, MPNS is also collecting pharmaceutical, trade and common names, which will enable users from a wide variety of backgrounds to more readily access Kew’s taxonomic information. The MPNS resource is publicly accessible through a web portal and will also form the basis of a number of consultancy services offered to sustain the project in the long term.

    The resource is aiming for global coverage, and currently contains 13,000 species and around 30,000 vernacular names in many different languages. These common names are collected from pharmacopoeias, ethnobotanical surveys, official monographs and regional books on medicinal plant use.

    Medicinal Plant Name Services website


    Jason Irving Bio:
    I am currently working at Kew Gardens with Medicinal Plant Names Services (MPNS) on a sandwich student placement as part of a BSc in Herbal medicine at the University of East London. I have also completed a BA in International Politics at SOAS. My interest in plants stems from the two years I spent working supplying restaurants with wild food. I have been running foraging courses for four years now, and my specific interests are in the culinary and medicinal uses of the native flora of the UK.