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Knowledge Graph: A Multi-Lingual Drug Synonymy

The synonymy traces continuity of drug use across different naming traditions and languages.  It links common botanicals used in the different traditions, and provides regional data about their names and wild propagation. 


Drawing on 24 modern drug dictionaries of Chinese and Malay medicine (Link), it matches the botanical names found in these dictionaries. Where agreed scientific terms for those plants have changed, it provides the current accepted name.

All botanical names have been reviewed by Kew Gardens' Medicinal Plant Name Services (MPNS). Over 18,000 citations are now cross-linked between our data sets.

The Synonymy also provides scientific synonyms used for those plants in literature of the past, allowing for comprehensive searches on the plant in existing literature.


Where available, it provides regional data on wild propagation, as well as on regional naming and dialect conventions.

Contains 42,860 primary and alternate drug names in Chinese and 3,612 drug names in Malay.


It allows for visual exploration of the drug name data.


It links the drug terms to other online databases on plant botany, biodiversity, and plant biochemistry.



Primary Name 主名: The name used in the header of entries for drug dictionaries or bencao literature. 


Alternate Name 別名: Alternative name for the same drug within that language.


Provenance 出處: The text in hiwch  a drug name is first mentioned in the tradition.  Drug names which have provenance are outlined in blue.  Where available, the author name and publication dates are included. Author birthplace will also be available in the future. This allows better understanding of where and when the name emerged.


Language/Region: Where regionality of terms can be identified, whether local dialects, other languages or region-specific usage, this is indicated.


Name Status: 

Accepted: A match was found linking the published name and a current accepted botanical name.  The accepted botanical name is provided.

Not Accepted: A match was found between the published name, and existing botanical names, but the match was weak.  The published name from the original source is provided.

Not Matched: No match was found between the published name and records at Kew.  The published name from the original source is provided.

0: No scientific name provided

As Published: No match was found between the published name and existing records at Kew, or where there was a match, its correlation was weak.


Linked Data

Scientific Names: Reviewed by Kew Gardens MPNSscientific names are linked out to 


Plants of the World Online (POWO)

Global Biodiversity Information Framework (GBIF)

Biodiversity Heritage Library (BHL)

Ethnonyms: Drug Names are linked to

 中醫世家 (ZYSJ)

American Dragon (Link)

Herb (Herb)

Traditional Chinese Medicine on Immuno-Oncology (TCMIO) 

The Encyclopaedia of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ETCM)

Traditional Chinese Medicine Systems Pharmacology Database and Analysis Platform (TCMSP)

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