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1.  Comparative analysis of plant use in peri-urban domestic gardens of the Limpopo Province, South Africa 
Background
Relatively little has been researched or published on the importance of peri-urban domestic gardens as part of a household livelihood strategy in South Africa. Due to lack of comprehensive data on peri-urban domestic gardens, their potential value as luxury green space, provision of food, income and ecosystem services to the fast growing urban population in South Africa is not clearly known. The aim of this study was to document differences and similarities in plant use and diversity in domestic gardens of two peri-urban communities in the Limpopo Province that differ in proximity to an urban area.
Methods
Data on plant use categories of 62 domestic gardens in the peri-urban areas of the Limpopo Province were collected in Seshego and Lebowakgomo. Semi-structured interviews, observation and guided field walks with 62 participants were employed between May and October 2012.
Results
A total of 126 plant species were recorded for both Seshego and Lebowakgomo. Domestic gardens in the more remote areas of Lebowakgomo were characterized by higher percentage of food plants (47 species, 83.8% of the total food plants recorded) and medicinal plants (31 species, 83.7%). Lebowakgomo domestic gardens were also characterized by higher numbers of indigenous plants (76.7%) showing similarities to the natural surrounding vegetation in terms of plant species. On the contrary, domestic gardens of Seshego on the periphery of the city centre were characterized by higher percentage of exotic species (81.8%) and ornamental plants (73%), with food plants playing a supplementary role. Comparison of the two areas demonstrated a remarkable difference in plant use and composition.
Conclusions
This study revealed that there are differences in utilization of plant resources between households on the edge of an urban centre and those in the more remote areas. Food and medicinal plants play an important role in remote areas; while ornamental plants play an important role in urban domestic gardens. But the collective desire for food, medicinal and ornamental plants by both communities on the edge of an urban centre and those in the more remote areas highlight the importance of plant resources in domestic gardens.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-35
PMCID: PMC3977957
Cultivated plants; Limpopo Province; Livelihoods; Peri-urban; Urbanisation; Useful plants
2.  Traditional Tar Production from the Anatolian Black Pine [Pinus nigra Arn. subsp. pallasiana (Lamb.) Holmboe var. pallasiana] and its usages in Afyonkarahisar, Central Western Turkey 
Background
Tar is one example of a plant product used in folk medicine and it is obtained from Pinus nigra Arn. subsp. pallasiana (Lamb.) Holmboe, which is very common in the West Anatolian Region. Old trees that are good for kindling and have thick trucks are preferred to obtain tar. Tar is used not only as traditional medicine but also for protection against both endoparasites and ectoparasites. The objective of this study was to record the traditional method of obtaining tar and its usages in Afyonkarahisar which is located in the Western Anatolian Region of Turkey.
Methods
In order to record the traditional methods of obtaining tar, we visited the villages of Doğlat, Kürtyurdu and Çatağıl in Afyonkarahisar (Turkey) June-July, 2012. Ethnobotanical data about the method of collection and traditional usages of tar were obtained through informal interviews with 26 participants (16 men and 10 women). Data concerning the method of tar collection and its traditional usages were recorded and photographed.
Results
The traditional method for obtaining tar from Pinus nigra subsp. pallasiana by local people was recorded and the local usages (curing ear pain in children, osteomyelitis, wounds, ulcers, eczema, acne, alopecia, fungus, foot-and-mouth disease in animals, mouth sores in sheep and goats, protection against endo- and ectoparasites, repellent for snakes, mice, flies (Tabanus bovinus) and ticks, and the prevention of water leakage from roofs) of tar are described.
Conclusion
In this study, the traditional method for obtaining tar and the traditional usages of tar are explained. Documentation of the method of obtaining tar and its traditional usages may contribute to scientific research on the benefits and usages of tar in medicine, veterinary medicine, as well as other fields.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-29
PMCID: PMC3974423  PMID: 24673846
Tar; Black pine; Pinus nigra subsp. pallasiana; Afyonkarahisar; Turkey
3.  An exploration of cultural beliefs and practices across the Southern Ground-Hornbill’s range in Africa 
Background
This article explores cultural beliefs and practices related to the Southern Ground-Hornbill (SGH) (Bucorvus leadbeateri) in nine southern and east-African countries.
Methods
A qualitative, thematic content-analysis approach was followed. Ninety-eight participants took part in the study. Interviews and group discussions were used as the main data gathering methods. Each interview was digitally recorded and transcribed. Data were analysed by means of thematic content analysis.
Results
The main themes that emerged from the data analysis indicated that beliefs and practices relate to the SGH as being (a) a bringer or signifier of death/destruction/loss/ deprivation, with the bird commonly being regarded as a bad omen of evil spirits and announcer of calamities; (b) a protector against evil spirits, against lightning and against drought; (c) an enabler/causer of altered perceptions, which include remote viewing, foreseeing the future, and creating an illusion; and (d) a timekeeper that announces the beginning and end of a working day and of seasonal changes.
Conclusions
Knowledge about the use of the SGH in cultural practices can contribute to conservation efforts in at least two significant ways: Firstly, beliefs and practices that were identified in this study as having potentially protective consequences for the SGH can now be specifically targeted and strengthened in future interventions. Secondly, destructive beliefs and practices that were identified can now be changed by means of the implementation of an intervention programme in countries where it is needed.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-28
PMCID: PMC3973005  PMID: 24670253
Southern Ground-Hornbill; Bucorvus leadbeateri; Cultural beliefs; Cultural practices; Intervention programme; Surrogate species; Conservation
4.  Length of residence, age and patterns of medicinal plant knowledge and use among women in the urban Amazon 
Background
This paper explores patterns of women’s medicinal plant knowledge and use in an urban area of the Brazilian Amazon. Specifically, this paper examines the relationship between a woman’s age and her use and knowledge of medicinal plants. It also examines whether length of residence in three different areas of the Amazon is correlated with a woman’s use and knowledge of medicinal plants. Two of the areas where respondents may have resided, the jungle/seringal and farms/colonias, are classified as rural. The third area (which all of the respondents resided in) was urban.
Methods
This paper utilizes survey data collected in Rio Branco, Brazil. Researchers administered the survey to 153 households in the community of Bairro da Luz (a pseudonym). The survey collected data on phytotherapeutic knowledge, general phytotherapeutic practice, recent phytotherapeutic practice and demographic information on age and length of residence in the seringal, on a colonia, and in a city. Bivariate correlation coefficients were calculated to assess the inter-relationships among the key variables. Three dependent variables, two measuring general phytotherapeutic practice and one measuring phytotherapeutic knowledge were regressed on the demographic factors.
Results
The results demonstrate a relationship between a woman’s age and medicinal plant use, but not between age and plant knowledge. Additionally, length of residence in an urban area and on a colonia/farm are not related to medicinal plant knowledge or use. However, length of residence in the seringal/jungle is positively correlated with both medicinal plant knowledge and use.
Conclusions
The results reveal a vibrant tradition of medicinal plant use in Bairro da Luz. They also indicate that when it comes to place of residence and phytotherapy the meaningful distinction is not rural versus urban, it is seringal versus other locations. Finally, the results suggest that phytotherapeutic knowledge and use should be measured separately since one may not be an accurate proxy for the other.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-25
PMCID: PMC3939936  PMID: 24565037
Medicinal plants; Age; Urban; Migration; Brazil; Amazon
5.  Traditional medicine applied by the Saraguro yachakkuna: a preliminary approach to the use of sacred and psychoactive plant species in the southern region of Ecuador 
Background
During the colonial period, the indigenous saraguros maintained their traditions, knowledge, and practices to restore and preserve the health of their members. Unfortunately, many of their practices and medicinal resources have not been documented. In this study, we sought to document the traditional healers’ (yachakkuna saraguros) knowledge about medicinal and psychoactive plants used in the mesas and in magical-religious rituals. The study was conducted under a technical and scientific cooperation agreement between the Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja (UTPL), the Dirección Provincial de Salud de Loja (DPSL), and the Saraguro Healers Council (Consejo de Sanadores de Saraguro).
Methods
For the present study, the DPSL and Saraguro Healers Council selected the 10 yachakkuna most recognized for their knowledge and their use of sacred and psychoactive species. Ten interviews with the selected yachakkuna were conducted between 2010 and 2011 to ascertain how the Saraguro traditional healing system is structured and to obtain a record of the sacred and medicinal plant species used to treat supernatural diseases and for psychoactive purposes.
Results
The present study describes the traditional health system in the Saraguro indigenous community located in southern Ecuador. It also describes the main empirical methods used to diagnose diseases: direct physical examination of the patient, observation of the patient’s urine, documentation of the patient’s pulse, limpia, palpation and visionary methods, including supernatural diseases (susto, vaho de agua, mal aire, mal hecho, shuka) and reports of the use of sacred and medicinal psychoactive plants, such as the San Pedro cactus (Echinopsis pachanoi), wandug (Brugmansia spp.), and tobacco (Nicotiana spp.). This study also describes the rituals (limpia, soplada) employed by the Saraguro yachakkuna to treat supernatural diseases. Finally, we report on the main plants used during limpia in the Saraguro community.
Conclusion
The current traditional health system in the Saraguro community is the cultural expression of the Saraguros’ presence as an Andean group in southern Ecuador: it represents their character as indigenous group, their ability to survive as a community despite strong external pressure, and the desire to maintain their ancient healing heritage.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-26
PMCID: PMC3975971  PMID: 24565054
San Pedro cactus; Medicinal plants; Saraguro; Psychoactive plants; Yachakkuna; Healing rituals
6.  A study of the medicinal plants used by the Marakwet Community in Kenya 
Background
The medicinal plants used by herbalists in Kenya have not been well documented, despite their widespread use. The threat of complete disappearance of the knowledge on herbal medicine from factors such as deforestation, lack of proper regulation, overexploitation and sociocultural issues warrants an urgent need to document the information. The purpose of the study was to document information on medicinal plants used by herbalists in Marakwet District towards the utilization of indigenous ethnobotanical knowledge for the advancement of biomedical research and development.
Methods
Semi- structured oral interviews were conducted with 112 practicing herbalists. The types of plants used were identified and the conditions treated recorded.
Results
Herbal practice is still common in the district, and 111 plants were identified to have medicinal or related uses. Different herbal preparations including fruits and healing vegetables are employed in the treatment of various medical conditions. Veterinary uses and pesticides were also recorded.
Conclusion
The study provides comprehensive ethnobotanical information about herbal medicine and healing methods among the Marakwet community. The identification of the active ingredients of the plants used by the herbalists may provide some useful leads for the development of new drugs.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-24
PMCID: PMC3974104  PMID: 24555424
Marakwet; Herbal medicine; Ethnobotanical; Plants; Documentation; Research
7.  Insect repellent plants traditional usage practices in the Ethiopian malaria epidemic-prone setting: an ethnobotanical survey 
Background
The usage of insect repellent plants (IRPs) is one of the centuries-old practices in Africa. In Ethiopia, malaria remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, subsequently the majority of people have a tendency to apply various plants as repellents to reduce or interrupt the biting activity of insects. Accordingly, this survey was undertaken to document and evaluate knowledge and usage practices of the local inhabitants on IRPs in the malaria epidemic-prone setting of Ethiopia.
Methods
Ethnobotanical survey was conducted between January and May 2013. Selected 309 household members were interviewed by administering pre-tested questionnaire on knowledge and usage practices of repellent plants, in Bechobore Kebele, Jimma Zone, Ethiopia.
Results
Overall, 70.2% (217/309) and 91.8% (199/217) of the respondents have had ample awareness and usage practices of repellent plants, respectively. Informants cited about twenty-two plant species as repellents and also indicated that these plants are useful(85.5%), accessible(86.8%), and affordable(83.9%) too. Residents mainly applying dried leaves [93.9% (187/199)] by means of burning/smouldering [98.9% (197/199)] with the traditional charcoal stove to repel insects, primarily mosquitoes. About 52.8% (105/199) of the informants using aproximately15g of dried plant-materials every day. A Chi-square analysis shows statistically a significant link between the knowledge on repellent plants and gender as well as average monthly income although not with the age of the respondents. Nevertheless, the repellent plant usage custom was not significantly associated with gender, monthly income, and age of the informants.
Conclusion
Though most of the people have had an adequate awareness still a sizable faction of society suffers with deprivation of IRPs knowledge and usage practices. Therefore, this study calls for more surveys to conserve the existing indigenous knowledge and cultural practices. It could lay the first stone to develop the next generation cost-effective vector control tools in the near future.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-22
PMCID: PMC3932844  PMID: 24521138
Plant-based insect repellent; Ethnobotanical survey; Knowledge; Self-reported practice
8.  Ethnoveterinary plants of Ankober District, North Shewa Zone, Amhara Region, Ethiopia 
Background
Traditional herbal preparations for addressing veterinary problems have been applied in Ankober District, Ethiopia, for generations. However, the millennia-old ethnoveterinary knowledge of the community, and the plants are subjected to loss without being scientifically documented due to anthropogenic and environmental threats. Hence, this study aims at providing a comprehensive documentation on ethnoveterinary plant knowledge of the people in order to preserve the fast-eroding knowledge and resources of the area.
Methods
Semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions, participant observation and walk-in-the-woods methods were used to gather ethnoveterinary data. Informant Consensus Factor (ICF) and Fidelity level (FL) values were calculated using quantitative approaches so as to check the level of informants' agreement on plant use and healing potential of ethnoveterinary medicinal plant species, respectively. Indigenous knowledge on use of medicinal plants for ethnoveterinary purposes among different informant groups was compared using One-way ANOVA and t-tests.
Results
A total of 51 plant species representing 50 genera and 35 botanical families used in the treatment of 33 different ailments were identified. Medicinal plant species belonging to families Asteraceae, Asclepiadaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Ranunculaceae were reported to be of frequent use in the local ethnoveterinary medical system. Roots (65%, 33 species) were most often utilized for remedy preparation. Highest ICF values were recorded for gastro-intestinal (0.71) ailments depicting best agreement on knowledge of medicinal plants used to treat aliments in this category. Embelia schimperi Vatke showed highest fidelity level value (90%) to treat gastro-intestinal diseases showing conformity of knowledge on this species' healing potential. Significant difference (P<0.05) was observed in average number of therapeutic plants reported by senior members of the community than younger groups. Embelia schimperi Vatke and Rubus steudnerii Schweinf. were the most-preferred species to treat diarrhoea.
Conclusion
The study indicated that indigenous knowledge on ethnoveterinary medicinal plant use is still rich and active in the District. Species with recorded highest consensus for curative role are a useful pool for further phytochemical and pharmacological validation for better utilization. Declining wild medicinal flora of the area calls for implementation of a coordinated complementary in situ and ex situ conservation strategy.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-21
PMCID: PMC3924401  PMID: 24517385
Ethnomedicine; Fidelity level; Traditional knowledge; Informants consensus factor; Preference ranking; Traditional healers
9.  Annual acknowledgement of manuscript reviewers 
Contributing reviewers
The editors of Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 9 (2013).
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-17
PMCID: PMC3918145
10.  Wild food plants used by the Tibetans of Gongba Valley (Zhouqu county, Gansu, China) 
Background
The ethnobotany of Tibetans is a seriously under-studied topic. The aim of the study was to investigate knowledge and use of wild food plants in a valley inhabited by Tibetans in the Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Region.
Methods
The field research was carried out in a wooded mountain valley in 9 neighbouring villages the Zhouqu (Brugchu) county, and comprised 17 interviews with single informants and 14 group interviews, involving 122 people altogether.
Results
We recorded the use of 81 species of vascular plants from 41 families. Fruits formed the largest category, with 42 species, larger than the wild greens category, with 36 species. We also recorded the culinary use of 5 species of edible flowers, 7 species with underground edible organs and 5 taxa of fungi. On average, 16.2 edible taxa were listed per interview (median – 16). Green vegetables formed the largest category of wild foods (mean – 8.7 species, median – 9 species), but fruits were listed nearly as frequently (mean – 6.9, median – 6). Other categories were rarely mentioned: flowers (mean – 0.2, median – 0), underground edible parts (mean – 0.3, median – 0) and mushrooms (mean – 1.5, – median 1).
Wild vegetables are usually boiled and/or fried and served as side-dishes (cai). They are often lacto-fermented. Wild fruits are mainly collected by children and eaten raw, they are not stored for further use. The most widely used wild vegetables are: Eleuterococcus spp., Pteridium aquilinum, Helwingia japonica, Aralia chinensis, Allium victorialis, Pteridium aquilinum, Ixeris chinensis, Thlaspi arvense and Chenopodium album. The culinary use of Caltha palustris as a green vegetable is very interesting. In its raw state, marsh marigold is a toxic plant, due to the presence of protoanemonin. In this area it is dried or lactofermented before use. The most commonly eaten fruits are: Pyrus xerophila, Prunus salicina, Berchemia sinica, Rubus spp. and Eleagnus umbellata.
Conclusions
The number of wild taxa eaten in the studied valley is relatively large compared to most studies from around the world. However, compared to the northern slope of the Qinling, in Shaanxi, the list is considerably shorter, in spite of the similar methodology applied and similar research effort involved.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-20
PMCID: PMC3933068  PMID: 24502461
Wild edible plants; Brugchu; Ethnobotany; Ethnomycology; Caltha palustris; Lactic fermentation; Lacto-fermented
11.  Ethnomedicinal plants used to treat human ailments in the prehistoric place of Harla and Dengego valleys, eastern Ethiopia 
Background
Traditional medicines remained as the most affordable and easily accessible source of treatment in the primary health care system among diverse communities in Ethiopia. The Oromo community living in the prehistoric Harla and Dengego valleys has long history of ethnomedicinal know-how and practice against human and livestock ailments. However, this rich ethnomedicinal knowledge had been remained unexplored hitherto. This study focus on the comprehensive ethnomedicinal investigation in an attempt to safeguard the deteriorating ethnomedicinal knowledge that can be used as a steppingstone for phytochemical and pharmacological analysis.
Methods
Fifty five (44 male and 11 female) systematically selected informants including ten traditional herbalists (key informants) were participated in the study. Semi-structured interviews, discussions and guided field walk constituted the data collection methods. Factor of informant consensus (Fic), frequency of citation (F%), and binomial test were employed in data analysis. Medicinal plant specimens were collected, identified and kept at Herbarium of Haramaya University (HHU).
Results
A total of 83 traditional medicinal plant species against human ailments in 70 genera and 40 Families were recorded. Twelve medicinal plants were marketable in open market places of the nearby towns. Formulations recorded added to 140 remedies for 81 human ailments. Concoction accounts 50.7% of the total preparations followed by fluids extraction (10.7%) and infusion (6.4%). Fifteen different plant parts were used for remedies preparation wherein leaves accounted 46.4%, stem 9.2%, fruits and roots each 7.8%. Most of the remedies (90.7%) were prepared from single plant species like, aphrodisiac fresh rhizome of Kleinia abyssinica (A. Rich.) A. Berger chewed and swallowed few hours before sexual performance for a man having problem of erectile dysfunction. The Fic value ranges between 1.0 (gastritis and heartburn/pyrosis) and 0.77 (swollen body part). Aloe harlana Reynolds was reported to be used for the highest number of ailments treating swollen body part locally called GOFLA, colon cleaner, snake bite, liver swelling, spleen swelling/splenomegaly, fungal infections and inflammation of skin.
Conclusion
Such documentation of comprehensive ethnomedicinal knowledge is very valuable and needs to be scaled-up so that it could be followed up with phytochemical and pharmacological analyses in order to give scientific ground to the ethnomedicinal knowledge.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-18
PMCID: PMC3933041  PMID: 24499509
Dengego valley; Eastern Ethiopia; Ethnomedicinal knowledge; Harla; Traditional medicinal plants
12.  Ethnomedicine use in the war affected region of northwest Pakistan 
Background
North-West of Pakistan is bestowed with medicinal plant resources due to diverse geographical and habitat conditions. The traditional use of plants for curing various diseases forms an important part of the region’s cultural heritage. The study was carried out to document medicinal plants used in Frontier Region (FR) Bannu, an area affected by the “War on Terror”.
Methods
Fieldwork was carried out in four different seasons (spring, autumn, summer and winter) from March 2012 to February 2013. Data on medicinal plants was collected using structured and semi-structured questionnaires from 250 respondents. The voucher specimens were collected, processed and identified following standard methods.
Results
Of the 107 species of ethnomedicinal plants reported, fifty percent species are herbaceous. The majority of the reported species were wild (55%) but a substantial proportion are cultivated (29%). For most of the plant species (34%), leaves are the most commonly used part in the preparation of ethnomedicines. The most common use of species is for carminative purposes (14 species), with the next most common use being for blood purification (11 species). The main methods used in the preparation of ethnomedicinal recipes involves grinding and boiling, and nearly all the remedies are taken orally along with ingredients such as water, milk or honey for ease of ingestion. Traditional healers prepare plant remedies using one or more plants. There was a significant correlation (r2 = 0.95) between the age of local people and the number of plants known to them, which indicates that in the coming 20 years, an approximate decrease of 75% in the indigenous knowledge may be expected.
Conclusion
Traditional medicines are important to the livelihoods of rural communities in the region affected by the Global war on Terrorism. The medicinal recipes are indigenous; however, there is a threat to their future use on account of rapid modernization and terrorist activities. Documentation of medicinal plants and recipes may help in the conservation of the regional indigenous medicinal knowledge for future generations and to provide a baseline for further studies.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-16
PMCID: PMC3932995  PMID: 24484608
Indigenous knowledge; Traditional medicines; Medicinal plants; Diseases
13.  Seeds used for Bodhi beads in China 
Background
Bodhi beads are a Buddhist prayer item made from seeds. Bodhi beads have a large and emerging market in China, and demand for the beads has particularly increased in Buddhism regions, especially Tibet. Many people have started to focus on and collect Bodhi beads and to develop a Bodhi bead culture. But no research has examined the source plants of Bodhi beads. Therefore, ethnobotanical surveys were conducted in six provinces of China to investigate and document Bodhi bead plants. Reasons for the development of Bodhi bead culture were also discussed.
Methods
Six provinces of China were selected for market surveys. Information was collected using semi-structured interviews, key informant interviews, and participatory observation with traders, tourists, and local residents. Barkhor Street in Lhasa was focused on during market surveys because it is one of the most popular streets in China.
Results
Forty-seven species (including 2 varieties) in 19 families and 39 genera represented 52 types of Bodhi beads that were collected. The most popular Bodhi bead plants have a long history and religious significance. Most Bodhi bead plants can be used as medicine or food, and their seeds or fruits are the main elements in these uses. ‘Bodhi seeds’ have been historically used in other countries for making ornaments, especially seeds of the legume family. Many factors helped form Bodhi bead culture in China, but its foundation was in Indian Buddhist culture.
Conclusions
As one of the earliest adornment materials, seeds played an important role for human production and life. Complex sources of Bodhi beads have different cultural and historical significance. People bought and collected Bodhi beads to reflect their love and admiration for the plants. Thus, the documentation of Bodhi bead plants can serve as a basis for future investigation of Bodhi bead culture and modern Buddhist culture.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-15
PMCID: PMC3914368  PMID: 24479788
Bodhi beads; Seeds; Buddhist culture
14.  A little bit of Africa in Brazil: ethnobiology experiences in the field of Afro-Brazilian religions 
This essay, which is the fourth in the series “Recollections, Reflections, and Revelations: Ethnobiologists and Their First Time in the Field”, is a personal reflection by the researcher on his first field experience with ethnobiology of so called Afro-brazilian cults. The author recounts his feelings and concerns associated with initial fieldwork.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-12
PMCID: PMC3905908  PMID: 24467714
Ethnobiology; Ethnobotany; Ethnography; Fieldwork; Evocations
15.  Ethnopharmacological practices by livestock farmers in Uganda: Survey experiences from Mpigi and Gulu districts 
Background
There is continued reliance on conventional veterinary drugs including anthelmintics, to some of which resistance has developed. Loss of indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) from societies affects the opportunities for utilization of ethnopharmacological practices unless properly documented. This study was conducted to identify common traditional practices using medicinal plants against helminthosis and other livestock diseases in Mpigi and Gulu districts of Uganda.
Methods
Seven focus group discussions with ten farmers per group plus 18 key informant interviews were held in each district from August to November 2011. Ranking was used to quantify disease burdens and to identify priority livestock and breeds. Samples of each plant were submitted to Makerere University herbarium for identification and documentation. The local name, relative availability and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status were recorded.
Results
Seventy six farmers in Mpigi and 74 in Gulu were interviewed. Theileriosis and helminthosis were the most common disease conditions in cattle and goats, respectively. Forty plant species within 34 genera from 22 botanical families were identified, with 20 of these used against helminthosis. Other plants treated wounds and ecto-parasites, theileriosis, retained placenta and bovine ephemeral fever. Non-plant practices (7) and plants cited were used in combination depending on availability. Males older than 40 years had most ethnopharmacological knowledge. Most plants (75%, n = 40) were common, but 10 were rare. IUCN status was not evaluated for 95% of these plants. Conventional and traditional drug use in Gulu and Mpigi districts was different (χ2 = 24; p < 0.001). The scientific, English, Luganda and Acholi names of all plants and their availability within the communities are documented herein.
Conclusion
This is the first detailed livestock-related ethnopharmacological study in Gulu district. Farmers in Uganda are still using a variety of practices to treat livestock ailments. Scientific validation and evaluation of conservation status are urgently needed to ensure future availability and knowledge about these plant resources.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-9
PMCID: PMC3916071  PMID: 24467812
Ethnopharmacological practices; Herbarium; ITK; Plants; Medicine; Helminthosis; Conservation
16.  An ethnobiological study in Kala Chitta hills of Pothwar region, Pakistan: multinomial logit specification 
Background
This paper constitutes an important ethnobiological survey in the context of utilizing biological resources by residents of Kala Chitta hills of Pothwar region, Pakistan. The fundamental aim of this research endeavour was to catalogue and analyse the indigenous knowledge of native community about plants and animals. The study is distinctive in the sense to explore both ethnobotanical and ethnozoological aspects of indigenous culture, and exhibits novelty, being based on empirical approach of Multinomial Logit Specifications (MLS) for examining ethnobotanical and ethnozoological uses of specific plants and animals.
Methods
To document the ethnobiological knowledge, the survey was conducted during 2011–12 by employing a semi-structured questionnaire and thus 54 informants were interviewed. Plant and animal specimens were collected, photographed and properly identified. Distribution of plants and animals were explored by descriptive and graphical examination. MLS were further incorporated to identify the probability of occurrence of diversified utilization of plants and animals in multipurpose domains.
Results
Traditional uses of 91 plant and 65 animal species were reported. Data analysis revealed more medicinal use of plants and animals than all other use categories. MLS findings are also in line with these proportional configurations. They reveal that medicinal and food consumption of underground and perennial plants was more as compared to aerial and annual categories of plants. Likewise, medicinal utilization of wild animals and domestic animals were more commonly observed as food items. However, invertebrates are more in the domain of medicinal and food utilization. Also carnivores are fairly common in the use of medicine while herbivores are in the category of food consumption.
Conclusion
This study empirically scans a good chunk of ethnobiological knowledge and depicts its strong connection with indigenous traditions. It is important to make local residents beware of conservation status of species and authentication of this knowledge needs to be done in near future. Moreover, Statistically significant findings impart novelty in the existing literature in the field of ethnobiology. Future conservation, phytochemical and pharmacological studies are recommended on these identified plants and animals in order to use them in a more sustainable and effective way.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-13
PMCID: PMC3914733  PMID: 24467739
Ethnobotany; Ethnozoology; Multinomial logit; Kala Chitta hills; Pothwar region; Pakistan
17.  Factors affecting ethnobotanical knowledge in a mestizo community of the Sierra de Huautla Biosphere Reserve, Mexico 
Background
Worldwide, mestizo communities’s ethnobotanical knowledge has been poorly studied. Based on a mestizo group in Mexico, this study assesses a) the use value (UV) of the local flora, b) gendered differences in plant species, and c) the association between socio-economic variables and ethnobotanical knowledge.
Methods
To assess the degree of knowledge of plant resources, we conducted 41 interviews collecting information on knowledge of local plant resources and the socio-economic situation of the informant. We also collected free listings of useful plants by category of use to identify the UV of each species. With the support of key informants, we photographed and collected the plant material recorded during the interviews and free listings on five different habitats. Paired t-tests and a Wilcoxon signed rank test were used to determine differences in the number of species known by men and women. Differences in distribution were analyzed by means of the Shapiro–Wilk’s W normality tests. To determine the association of socio-economic factors and ethnobotanical knowledge, we used a non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis (NMDS).
Results
Informants listed 185 species. Medicinal plants constituted the most diverse group (90 species). Tropical deciduous forest is the habitat that concentrates the highest proportion of plant resources (80 species). The use-values were classified into three groups: A (4–6 UV; three species), B (0.35-1.37 UV; 39 species) and C (0–0.29 UV; 143 species). High-quality wood species and those associated to religious ceremonies had the highest UV. Women’s and men’s knowledge of plant species showed statistically significant differences at the interspecific and the intracategorical levels (Student’s test, T15 = 4.8, p < 0.001). Occupation, gender and age were statistically significant associated to ethnobotanical knowledge (p < 0.05), whereas income, education level, and place of origin were not.
Conclusion
This research improves our understanding of the socio-economic activities associated with the intracultural distribution of ethnobotanical knowledge among mestizo Mexican communities. It also provides information on plant resources and habitats and how local peasants value them. This information could help in the development of proposals to improve biocultural conservation and strengthen traditional knowledge systems for effective forest management.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-14
PMCID: PMC3933039  PMID: 24467777
Ethnobotanical knowledge; Socio-economic variables; Mestizo community; Mexico; Useful plants
18.  Chain of commercialization of Podocnemis spp. turtles (Testudines: Podocnemididae) in the Purus River, Amazon basin, Brazil: current status and perspectives 
Background
Consumption of turtles by natives and settlers in the Amazon and Orinoco has been widely studied in scientific communities. Accepted cultural customs and the local dietary and monetary needs need to be taken into account in conservation programs, and when implementing federal laws related to consumption and fishing methods. This study was conducted around the Purus River, a region known for the consumption and illegal trade of turtles. The objective of this study was to quantify the illegal turtle trade in Tapauá and to understand its effect on the local economy.
Methods
This study was conducted in the municipality of Tapauá in the state of Amazonas, Brazil. To estimate turtle consumption, interviews were conducted over 2 consecutive years (2006 and 2007) in urban areas and isolated communities. The experimental design was randomized with respect to type of household. To study the turtle fishery and trade chain, we used snowball sampling methodology.
Results
During our study period, 100% of respondents reported consuming at least three species of turtles (Podocnemis spp.). Our estimates indicate that about 34 tons of animals are consumed annually in Tapauá along the margins of a major fishing river in the Amazon. At least five components related to the chain of commercialization of turtles on the Purus River are identified: Indigenous Apurinã and (2) residents of bordering villages (communities); (3) of local smugglers buy and sell turtles to the community in exchange for manufactured goods, and (4) regional smugglers buy in Tapauá, Lábrea, and Beruri to sell in Manaus and Manacapuru; Finally, (5) there are professional fishermen.
Conclusions
We quantify the full impact of turtle consumption and advocate the conservation of the region’s turtle populations. The Brazilian government should initiate a new turtle consumption management program which involves the opinions of consumers. With these measures the conservation of freshwater turtles in the Brazilian Amazon, is possible.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-8
PMCID: PMC3933064  PMID: 24467796
Chelonian; Amazon; Turtle consumption; Illegal trade; Endangered species
19.  The apparency hypothesis applied to a local pharmacopoeia in the Brazilian northeast 
Background
Data from an ethnobotanical study were analyzed to see if they were in agreement with the biochemical basis of the apparency hypothesis based on an analysis of a pharmacopeia in a rural community adjacent to the Araripe National Forest (Floresta Nacional do Araripe - FLONA) in northeastern Brazil. The apparency hypothesis considers two groups of plants, apparent and non-apparent, that are characterized by conspicuity for herbivores (humans) and their chemical defenses.
Methods
This study involved 153 interviewees and used semi-structured interviews. The plants were grouped by habit and lignification to evaluate the behavior of these categories in terms of ethnospecies richness, use value and practical and commercial importance. Information about sites for collecting medicinal plants was also obtained. The salience of the ethnospecies was calculated. G-tests were used to test for differences in ethnospecies richness among collection sites and the Kruskal-Wallis test to identify differences in the use values of plants depending on habit and lignifications (e.g. plants were classes as woody or non-woody, the first group comprising trees, shrubs, and lignified climbers (vines) and the latter group comprising herbs and non-lignified climbers). Spearman’s correlation test was performed to relate salience to use value and these two factors with the commercial value of the plants.
Results
A total of 222 medicinal plants were cited. Herbaceous and woody plants exhibited the highest ethnospecies richness, the non-woody and herbaceous plants had the most practical value (current use), and anthropogenic areas were the main sources of woody and non-woody medicinal plants; herbs and trees were equally versatile in treating diseases and did not differ with regard to use value. Trees were highlighted as the most commercially important growth habit.
Conclusions
From the perspective of its biochemical fundamentals, the apparency hypothesis does not have predictive potential to explain the use value and commercial value of medicinal plants. In other hand, the herbaceous habit showed the highest ethnospecies richness in the community pharmacopeia, which is an expected prediction, corroborating the apparency hypothesis.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-2
PMCID: PMC3903438  PMID: 24410756
20.  Bapedi traditional healers in the Limpopo Province, South Africa: Their socio-cultural profile and traditional healing practice 
Background
Bapedi traditional healers play a vital role in the primary health care of rural inhabitants in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. However, literature profiling their social and demographic variables, as well as their traditional healing practices is lacking.
Methods
Convenience sampling were used to identify and select two traditional healers from 17 municipalities (resulting in 34 healers being used in this pilot survey) of the Limpopo Province in South Africa. Information on the social and demographic variables, and traditional healing practices of these healers was gathered from January 2013 to July 2013, using a semi-structured questionnaire, supplemented by field surveys for plant identification and collection used in the preparation of remedies.
Results
Males constituted nearly two-thirds of the participants. Forty eight percent of them became healers through the mentoring of another healer, while 38% acquired their traditional healing knowledge from parents and 14% from grandparents. In contrast to this, 62% of the females obtained theirs from their parents, 30% from fellow traditional healers, and 8% from grandparents. A total of 154 plant species were indicated as used by healers in the treatment of 52 health-related problems. A vast majority (89%) of these practitioners reported that prepared herbal remedies do expire, which is a temperature-dependent process. Determinations of the efficacy of remedies by most healers (67%) were via consultation with ancestors (90%). This study also found that none of the interviewees had any knowledge of provincial or national environmental legislation.
Conclusions
The current study has shown that Bapedi traditional healers could play a leading role in both the preservation of indigenous knowledge and the primary health care sector. However, of concern is the traditional methods (via consulting ancestors) employed by most of these healers in determining efficacy of remedies, thus indicating a need for a scientific investigations to establish their safety and effectiveness. Equally, there is a need to educate traditional practitioners’ regarding the significance of various conservation legislations in their traditional healing. By addressing these, the national and provincial legislators, medical fraternity as well as environmental agencies will be able to better integrate them in primary health care systems and environmental management.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-4
PMCID: PMC3904471  PMID: 24410790
Bapedi; Limpopo Province; Profile; Plant use; Traditional healers
21.  Medicinal plants used by the Tamang community in the Makawanpur district of central Nepal 
Background
We can conserve cultural heritage and gain extensive knowledge of plant species with pharmacological potential to cure simple to life-threatening diseases by studying the use of plants in indigenous communities. Therefore, it is important to conduct ethnobotanical studies in indigenous communities and to validate the reported uses of plants by comparing ethnobotanical studies with phytochemical and pharmacological studies.
Materials and methods
This study was conducted in a Tamang community dwelling in the Makawanpur district of central Nepal. We used semi-structured and structured questionnaires during interviews to collect information. We compared use reports with available phytochemical and pharmacological studies for validation.
Results
A total of 161 plant species belonging to 86 families and 144 genera to cure 89 human ailments were documented. Although 68 plant species were cited as medicinal in previous studies, 55 different uses described by the Tamang people were not found in any of the compared studies. Traditional uses for 60 plant species were consistent with pharmacological and phytochemical studies.
Conclusions
The Tamang people in Makawanpur are rich in ethnopharmacological understanding. The present study highlights important medicinal plant species by validating their traditional uses. Different plant species can improve local economies through proper harvesting, adequate management and development of modern techniques to maximize their use.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-5
PMCID: PMC3904474  PMID: 24410808
Makawanpur district; Medicinal plants; Pharmacology; Phytochemistry; Tamang community
22.  Comparative homegarden medical ethnobotany of Naxi healers and farmers in Northwestern Yunnan, China 
Background
Homegardens are ecologically and culturally important systems for cultivating medicinal plants for wellbeing by healers and farmers in Naxi communities of the Sino Himalayan region. The cultivation of medicinal plants in Naxi communities and associated ethnomedical knowledge base for maintaining and utilizing these resources is at risk with expanded commercialization of natural resources, development policies and rapid socio-economic change in China. Research is needed to understand the medicinal plant species maintained in Naxi homegardens, their use and contribution to community wellbeing, and how these practices and knowledge base varies between Naxi healers and farmers in order to develop plans for biodiversity conservation and preservation of ethnomedical practices. The main objective of this study is to document and compare medicinal plant species in Naxi homegardens and associated ethnomedical knowledge between Naxi healers and farmers.
Methods
Ethnobotanical homegarden surveys were conducted with three Naxi healers and 28 farmer households in two Naxi communities in Lijiang Prefecture in Northwest Yunnan Province of China. Surveys included inventories of medicinal plants in homegardens and semi-structured interviews with homegarden managers to document traditional medicinal uses of inventoried plants. Inventoried plants were classified into 13 ‘usage categories’ of medical condition groupings that impact a system of the body. Finally, plant species richness was calculated for each homegarden and species richness was compared between healers and farmers as well as between study sites using a Least Square Means Tukey HSD function.
Results
Ethnobotanical surveys at the study sites found that 13% of households rely exclusively on traditional Naxi medicine, 26% exclusively use Western medicine and 61% use a combination of traditional Naxi and Western medicine. A total of 106 medicinal plants were inventoried in Naxi homegardens representing 50 botanical families. Over 85% of inventoried medicinal plants were herbaceous. The most represented families were Asteraceae (12.8%), Ranunculaceae (8.3%), Apiaceae (8.3%), and Polygonaceae (7.3%). The primary medical functions of inventoried plants were to treat inflammation (73 species), circulatory system disorders (62), nervous system disorders (41), detoxification (39), digestive system disorders (33), muscular-skeletal system disorders (26), genitourinary system disorders (26), skin conditions (23), respiratory systems disorders (22), and cold and flu (20). Local herbal experts maintained greater medicinal plant species richness in their homegardens compared to local farmers as well as had greater knowledge of medicinal functions of plants. Healers maintained medicinal plants primarily for healing while farmer households maintained approximately 90% of the medicinal plants in their homegardens for commercialization and the remaining for household healthcare.
Conclusions
This study highlights the importance of biodiversity and traditional ecological and medical knowledge for human wellbeing and livelihoods in Naxi communities. Conservation efforts and policies are necessary to preserve the ecological and cultural base that maintains medicinal plant use by both healers and farmers in Naxi homegardens of the Sino Himalayan region.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-6
PMCID: PMC3907136  PMID: 24410825
Homegardens; Medicinal plants; Naxi; Ethnomedicine; Healers
23.  Local and scientific knowledge for assessing the use of fallows and mature forest by large mammals in SE Brazil: identifying singularities in folkecology 
Background
Local ecological knowledge (LEK) has been discussed in terms of its similarities to and its potential to complement normative scientific knowledge. In this study, we compared the knowledge of a Brazilian quilombola population regarding the habitat use and life habits of large mammals with in situ recordings of the species. We also tested the hypothesis that quilombola LEK has a special focus on the anthropogenic portion of the landscape.
Methods
The habitats investigated were anthropogenic secondary forests and mature forests in the southeastern Atlantic coast of Brazil. We conducted the faunal survey using the camera-trap method. The sampling effort consisted of deploying 1,217 cameras/day in the mature forests and 1,189 cameras/day in the secondary forests. Statistical comparisons regarding the habitat use of the species were based on the randomization procedure. We interviewed 36 men who were more than 40 years old in the three communities studied. Informal, semi-structured and structured interviews were used. Two variables were considered in the LEK analyses: level of internal agreement and level of convergence with the scientific data.
Results
The camera trap sampling resulted in a total of 981 records. Animals such as opossums, tayras, armadillos and deer showed a non-selective pattern in the use of habitats. In contrast, the coati was more common in mature forests. We found that nearly 40% of the interviewees’ responses converged with the scientific data on the use of habitats. However, the LEK on the species’ life habits was highly convergent with the scientific data. The hypothesis that secondary forests would have a greater relevance for local knowledge was validated for four of the five analyzed species.
Conclusions
We suggest two principal considerations of ecological and ethnoecological interest: (1) In the Atlantic Forest of the Ribeira Valley, the secondary forests resulting from shifting cultivation were as attractive to the species as the mature forests; (2) The LEK has a special focus on the more anthropogenic portion of the landscape studied. Finally, we argue that this environmental focus in LEK is part of what makes it different from scientific knowledge and unique in its approach toward local environments.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-7
PMCID: PMC3909299  PMID: 24410840
Ethnoecology; Local ecological knowledge; Quilombola populations; Shifting cultivation; Medium and large-bodied mammals; Camera trap; Secondary forest; Brazilian atlantic forest
24.  Personal networks: a tool for gaining insight into the transmission of knowledge about food and medicinal plants among Tyrolean (Austrian) migrants in Australia, Brazil and Peru 
Background
Investigations into knowledge about food and medicinal plants in a certain geographic area or within a specific group are an important element of ethnobotanical research. This knowledge is context specific and dynamic due to changing ecological, social and economic circumstances. Migration processes affect food habits and the knowledge and use of medicinal plants as a result of adaptations that have to be made to new surroundings and changing environments. This study analyses and compares the different dynamics in the transmission of knowledge about food and medicinal plants among Tyrolean migrants in Australia, Brazil and Peru.
Methods
A social network approach was used to collect data on personal networks of knowledge about food and medicinal plants among Tyroleans who have migrated to Australia, Brazil and Peru and their descendants. A statistical analysis of the personal network maps and a qualitative analysis of the narratives were combined to provide insight into the process of transmitting knowledge about food and medicinal plants.
Results
56 personal networks were identified in all (food: 30; medicinal plants: 26) across all the field sites studied here. In both sets of networks, the main source of knowledge is individual people (food: 71%; medicinal plants: 68%). The other sources mentioned are print and audiovisual media, organisations and institutions. Personal networks of food knowledge are larger than personal networks of medicinal plant knowledge in all areas of investigation. Relatives play a major role as transmitters of knowledge in both domains.
Conclusions
Human sources, especially relatives, play an important role in knowledge transmission in both domains. Reference was made to other sources as well, such as books, television, the internet, schools and restaurants. By taking a personal network approach, this study reveals the mode of transmission of knowledge about food and medicinal plants within a migrational context.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-10-1
PMCID: PMC3903449  PMID: 24398225
Social network analysis; Personal networks; Knowledge transmission; Food knowledge; Medicinal plant knowledge; Migration; Knowledge traditions
25.  Botanical ethnoveterinary therapies in three districts of the Lesser Himalayas of Pakistan 
Background
Ethnoveterinary knowledge is highly significant for persistence of traditional community-based approaches to veterinary care. This is of particular importance in the context of developing and emerging countries, where animal health (that of livestock, especially) is crucial to local economies and food security. The current survey documents the traditional veterinary uses of medicinal plants in the Lesser Himalayas-Pakistan.
Methods
Data were collected through interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and by administering questionnaires. A total of 105 informants aged between 20–75 years old who were familiar with livestock health issues (i.e. farmers, shepherds, housewives and herbalists) participated in the study.
Results
A total of 89 botanical taxa, belonging to 46 families, were reported to have ethnoveterinary applications. The most quoted families were Poaceae (6 taxa), Fabaceae (6), Asteraceae (5), and Polygonaceae (5). Adhatoda vasica was the most cited species (43%), followed by Trachyspermum ammi (37%), and Zanthoxylum armatum var. armatum (36%). About 126 medications were recorded against more than 50 veterinary conditions grouped into seven categories. The highest cultural index values were recorded for Trachyspermum ammi, Curcuma longa, Melia azedarach, Zanthoxylum armatum var. armatum and Adhatoda vasica. The highest informant consensus factor was found for pathologies related to respiratory and reproductive disorders. Comparison with the local plant-based remedies used in human folk medicine revealed that many of remedies were used in similar ways in local human phytotherapy. Comparison with other field surveys conducted in surrounding areas demonstrated that approximately one-half of the recorded plants uses are novel to the ethnoveterinary literature of the Himalayas.
Conclusion
The current survey shows a remarkable resilience of ethnoveterinary botanical knowledge in the study area. Most of the species reported for ethnoveterinary applications are wild and under threat. Thus, not only is it imperative to conserve traditional local knowledge of folk veterinary therapies for bio-cultural conservation motives, but also to assist with in-situ and ex-situ environmental conservation initiatives, which are urgently needed. Future studies that focus on the validation of efficacy of these ethnoveterinary remedies can help to substantiate emic concepts regarding the management of animal health care and for rural development programs.
doi:10.1186/1746-4269-9-84
PMCID: PMC3904763  PMID: 24359615
Medicinal plants; Ethnobotany; Ethnoveterinary; Lesser Himalayas; Pakistan

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