Data on foliar Al concentrations were collated from Chenery (1948a, 1949), Haridasan (1982, 1987), Cuenca & Herrera (1987), Mazorra et al. (1987), Masunaga et al. (1998a), Osaki et al. (1998, 2003), Jansen et al. (2003) and Watanabe et al. (2007). These sources yielded data for a total of 986 plant species drawn from 493 genera in 193 families. In cases in which species were duplicated between datasets, the mean value across all studies was computed and used in the analyses. The dataset comprised 757 angiosperms and 229 nonflowering plants, including ferns (151 species), mosses (27 species), a lichen (one species), club mosses (seven species) and gymnosperms (43 species). The plant material for this dataset was collected from wild plants growing in Brazil (36 species), Hawaii (one species), Indonesia (123 species), Japan (506 species), Madagascar (two species), Malaysia (one species), New Zealand (56 species), Philippines (one species), Thailand (51 species) and Venezuela (25 species). The origin of the remaining 184 species was not mentioned in the original papers, but they could be classified as either tropical (144 species) or temperate (40 species) on the basis of a literature search. In this article, we have divided the dataset into species from temperate climatic zones (those from Japan and New Zealand and the 40 temperate species with an unrecorded origin) and the tropics (the rest). There were 349 and 466 angiosperms, and 93 and 136 nonflowering plants, in the tropical and temperate species lists, respectively. Data on the foliar concentrations of N, P, K, Ca and Mg were extracted from the same sources, although this yielded lower sample sizes for these elements because the papers were focused primarily on foliar Al concentrations (N, 51 species; P, 63 species; K, 671 species; Ca, 684 species; Mg, 656 species). The methods used to measure Al and other major nutrient concentrations varied among studies, but, in all cases, leaf samples were acid digested and concentrations of Al, K, Ca and Mg were mostly determined using atomic absorption spectrophotometry (Haridasan, 1982, 1987; Cuenca & Herrera, 1987; Mazorra et al., 1987; Osaki et al., 1998, 2003; Jansen et al., 2003); the exceptions were Chenery (1948a, 1949), Masunaga et al. (1998a) and Watanabe et al. (2007), who measured Al using an aluminon colorimetric method, inductively coupled plasma atomic emission spectrometry and neutron-activation analysis, respectively. Total N and P concentrations were determined using a semi-micro Kjeldahl method (Osaki et al., 1998, 2003) and a vanado-molybdate colorimetric method (Haridasan, 1982; Osaki et al., 1998, 2003), respectively. Elemental concentrations were converted to mg g−1 from the units reported in the original papers.