, Volume 9, Issue 5, pp 597-615

Diversity of plant uses in two Caiçara communities from the Atlantic Forest coast, Brazil

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Abstract

Caiçaras are native inhabitants of the Atlantic coast on southeastern Brazil, whose subsistence is based especially on agriculture and artisanal fishing. Because of their knowledge about the environment acquired through generations, Caiçara people can play an important role in Atlantic Forest conservation. An ethnobotanical study was conducted within two Caiçara communities (Ponta do Almada and Camburí beach, São Paulo State, Brazil), focusing on plant uses. In 102 interviews, 227 plant ethnospecies were quoted, mainly for food, medicine, handicraft and construction of houses and canoes. People from studied communities depend on the native vegetation for more than a half of the species known and used. Using diversity indices, plant uses are compared between studied communities and between gender and age categories within each community. We found quantitative differences in the knowledge about plants between gender categories for each kind of use (medicinal, food and handicrafts). Older and younger informants also have different knowledge about plants for handicraft and medicine, but not for edible plants.