Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Aim: To determine the relative influence of medicinal use, height and geographical range on the chronological sequence of the first verifiable printed records of 1239 native species of flowering plants in the UK. Location: UK. Methods: We used Cox proportional hazards models to provide a direct estimate of the influence through time of explanatory variables on the hazard function. Results: In the period from 1538 to 1550, medicinal plants were 5-15 (95% confidence interval) times more likely to be discovered than non-medicinal plants. By 1600, 75% of medicinal plants had been discovered, and subsequently medicinal use had no significant influence on the probability of discovery. From 1538 to 1983, a 100-hectad increase in area resulted in a 4-6% increase in the probability of discovery. There was a small but significant decrease in the influence of area on the probability of discovery over the entire time period. In the same time period, a 10-fold increase in height resulted in a 3-35% increased probability of discovery. Main conclusions: Our results demonstrate that the first written records (1538-1600) of UK flowering plants were very strongly influenced by the perceived medicinal properties of the plants. © 2006 The Authors Journal compilation © 2006 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Original publication




Journal article


Global Ecology and Biogeography

Publication Date





103 - 108