Dear <<First Name>>,
Possibly the most common question we receive concerns why the scientific nomenclature followed by MPNS
differs from that in The Plant List
Our previous newsletter outlined best practice guidelines
for using medicinal plant names which require you to use MPNS before turning to TPL.
This newsletter explains the differences between MPNS and TPL, why they exist and makes clear the advantages of following MPNS wherever possible.
Why use MPNS rather than The Plant List?
Our strong recommendation is to employ the plant nomenclature (names) and taxonomy (classification) in MPNS rather than The Plant List for all plants found in both resources. Here we explain why differences exist and why MPNS is more reliable.
was a first attempt at a “working list of all
plant species”. It was built at Kew, in 2010, by merging together millions of data records supplied by several overlapping botanical databases. The contributing data sets were of variable reliability and to build TPL in the time available required us to automatically manipulate these data so as to a) detect and b) resolve conflicting taxonomic opinions. Automation inevitably introduced further errors so that TPL was published with known flaws. These errors remain since TPL has been neither corrected nor updated since 2012.
As a static resource TPL also fails to reflect the many changes in taxonomy and nomenclature published over the intervening years. Approximately 10,000 changes are published every year. Despite this, TPL remains a popular reference resource: being easy to use and conveniently covering ALL plants.
covers 28,000 species of plant formally recorded as having a medicinal use. In addition to scientific names, MPNS includes 140,000 pharmaceutical and common names (frequently used ambiguously), points to the pharmacopoeia or publications citing medicinal use of each plant and records which parts of the plant are used. Presenting this information requires an interface that is slightly more complicated than that of TPL.
For medicinal plants, however, MPNS is more comprehensive, more coherent and more up-to-date than TPL. The taxonomy and nomenclature in MPNS derive from Kew’s taxonomic databases which are actively curated to correct errors and reflect newly published research. MPNS provides its users access to these improved data by regularly updating MPNS to reflect taxonomic advances. Although MPNS does refer to TPL, it has only done so for the 2 or 3 plant families for which Kew lacks more recent accounts. Even these gaps will be addressed.in the coming months.