Ethnobotany of Wild and Semi-Wild Edible Plants of Chelia District, West-Central Ethiopia
AbstractThis study was aimed at carrying out ethnobotanical investigation of wild and semi-wild edible plants (WSWEPs) involving documentation and analysis of the associated indigenous knowledge in Chelia District, West-Central Ethiopia. Semi-structured interviewing, direct matrix ranking, focus group discussions (FGDs), and guided field walks with informants were employed to collect qualitative and quantitative data. A total of 58 WSWEPs species classified into 48 genera and 30 botanical families were documented. The Moraceae with five species (16.66%) and Asteraceae with four species (13.33%) were the most represented families with high number of wild edible plant species. However, Urtica simensis (Urticaceae) (74.3% of informants), Chionanthus mildbraedii (Oleaceae) (68.4% of informants), Carissa spinarum (Apocynaceae) (66.1% of informants) and Ficus sur (Moraceae) (65.3% of informants) were the highly cited wild food plants. Most of the WSWEP species were shrubs represented with 21 species (36.20%) followed by trees and herbs with 18 species each (31.03% each) and liana with one species (1.72%). About 13.33% of the WSWEPs of Chelia District were endemic to Ethiopia. The average number of WSWEPs reported by women was more than that reported by men, and similarly senior members of the community also reported significantly higher numbers of edible species than younger members (P<0.05). The key informants reported significantly higher mean number of edible species of WSWEPs than the general informants (P<0.05). Women (80.1 ±1.6%) and children (76.1 ±2.3%) were the major gatherers followed by men (13.2±2.4%) and all household members (12.9 ±1.3%). The majority of respondents (77.4 ±2.1%) reported that WSWEPs were consumed by all household members followed by women (23.1± 2.2%), elders (15.8 ±2.3%), children (19.4 ±1.6%) and men 8.2±2.1%). Most inhabitants predominantly consumed fruits (40%) and fresh leaves (17.5%) followed by shoots (12.5%). Based on multipurpose criteria, Cordia africana, Vepris dainellii and Chionanthus mildbraedii were the most commonly used multipurpose species. Forests were the major reservoirs contributing 19 species (18%) of WSWEPs followed by woodland and disturbed bushland adding 28 species (17%) and river banks contributing 26 species (16%). Our analysis also showed that agricultural expansion was identified as a major threat to WSWEPs followed by overgrazing and fuelwood collection in the study area. In light of our findings, we recommend further research on the possibility of adapting, growing and intentionally managing some of the commonly consumed WSWEPs as well as on the toxicity and nutritional composition of these plants to ensure safety of consumption and economic benefits.
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