Ethnobotanical study on Wetland macrophytes of medicinal importance in the Western Highlands of Cameroon
The objective of the study was to make a survey of wetland medicinal plants in the Western Highlands of Cameroon. Eighteen (18) wetlands in four divisions namely Penka-Michel (Menoua division), Batcham (Bamboutos division), Bassap- Bafang (Haut-Nkam division) and Foumban (Noun division) were visited between the months of May and August 2015. Semi-structured interviews were conducted among 38 traditional practitioners and herbalists. Eighteen transects of 1 m × 10 m (10 m²) were established to study the phytosociology of wetland medicinal macrophytes with other associated plants. In each transect, 10 quadrats of 1 m x 1 m were traced in which all plant species including medicinal plants were inventored and counted. A total of 82 wetland macrophytes of medicinal importance grouped into 64 genera and 40 families were documented to treat over 74 different ailments. The most frequent family was the Asteraceae with the highest number of genera (7) followed by Fabaceae and Poaceae with 4 genera each. The most cited plant species were Emilia coccinea (Sims) G. Don, Commelina benghalensis L. and Coccinia barteri (Hook.f.) Keay. Emilia coccinea (Sims) G. Don alone is used for treating 14 ailments while Commelina benghalensis L. and Coccinia barteri (Hook.f.) Keay were used to treat 5 and 4 ailments respectively. The most regularly used plant part was the leaves (55.75 %) followed by whole or entire plant (24.54 %) for treating several diseases such as palpitation, skin diseases, digestive problems, dysentary, influenza, infertility, boil, sore throat, sexual impotence and kidney problems among others. The wetlands in the Western Highlands of Cameroon are rich in medicinal macrophyte species which are used as food or food products for traditional health care.
Keywords: Ethnobotany, wetlands, medicinal macrophytes, Infertility, Western Highlands of Cameroon