Traditional medicinal knowledge of tropical trees and its value for restoration of tropical forests

  • Juana García-Flores Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad (IIES) - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
  • Mario González-Espinosa El Colegio de la Frontera Sur (ECOSUR)
  • Roberto Lindig-Cisneros Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad (IIES) - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)
  • Alejandro Casas Instituto de Investigaciones en Ecosistemas y Sustentabilidad (IIES) - Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM)

Abstract

Background. Traditional medicinal knowledge (TMK) accounts for attending nearly 80% of the worldwide needs of health. The highest diversity of medicinal plants includes tropical species and, therefore, TMK may be useful in guiding efforts to recovering tropical biodiversity and ecosystems.

Questions. Can TMK become a strategy to be used in identifying medicinal tree species, with bothcultural and ecological importance, that should be considered in tropical forest restoration actions?

Study site and dates. The study was conducted during 2015 in four communities of the Sierra region of southern Tabasco, Mexico.

Methods. We obtained from the literature a checklist of medicinal trees native to the study region. We conducted semi-structured interviews and participatory workshops in each community; we obtained ethnobotanical data about the most common illnesses and the most important plant species used for attending them. We identified priority species for forest restoration. Indexes of medicinal knowledge (TMK), knowledge richness (IKR) and cultural significance (ICS) were calculated.

Results. We recorded a total of 43 tree species. Adult and elder women showed the highest TMK. The main illnesses are gastrointestinal (93-97%), treated with 13 species, and those related with pain and fever (67-97%), treated with 16 species. On average, the IKR was less than 50% of all the species recorded. The highest values of ICS were for Gliricidia sepium, Bursera simaruba, and Piper auritum, whereas Brosimum alicastrum, Ceiba pentandra and Castilla elástica had the lowest values; however, the latter were the species considered with highest priority for forest restoration actions.

Conclusions. TMK may be a useful criteria for identifying species to be used in restoring tropical forests, but it should be complemented with other use values of the plant resources based such as food, fuel, wood, among others.

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Traditional medicinal knowledge of tropical trees and its value for restoration of tropical forests

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Published
2019-09-01
How to Cite
García-Flores, J., González-Espinosa, M., Lindig-Cisneros, R., & Casas, A. (2019). Traditional medicinal knowledge of tropical trees and its value for restoration of tropical forests. Botanical Sciences, 97(3), 336-354. https://doi.org/10.17129/botsci.2122
Section
ETHNOBOTANY / ETNOBOTÁNICA