Economic Botany

, Volume 49, Issue 3, pp 297–308 | Cite as

Ethnobotanical value and conservation of sacred groves of the Kpaa Mende in Sierra Leone

  • Aiah R. Lebbie
  • Raymond P. Guries


Sacred groves in the Moyamba District of Sierra Leone were assessed for their value to local herbalists and traditional folk medicine practitioners of the Kpaa Mende people. Herbalists (tufablaa) collecting in 23 sacred groves were interviewed regarding their general knowledge of medicinal plants, and their perceptions regarding changes in the occurrence of medicinal plants. Over 75 medicinal plant remedies are currently in use among the Kpaa Mende, with some plants reported here for the first time in terms of their medicinal uses in Sierra Leone. A significant feature of Kpaa Mende ethnobotany is the employment of 2 or more kinds of plants in combination as a remedy for particular afflictions. The discovery of rare and uncommon plants in the groves and their medicinal uses are discussed in terms of the role of the sacred groves in medicinal plant conservation.

Key Words

sacred groves secret societies medicinal plants folk medicine plant conservation 

Valeur Ethnobotanique et Conservation des Bosquets Sacrés du Peuple Kpaa Mende, Sierra Leone


Des bosquets sacrés du district de Moyamba, Sierra Leone, furent évalués quant à leur utilité aux herboristes locaux et aux practiciens de médicine populaire du peuple Kpaa Mende. Des herboristes (tufablaa) récoltant dans 23 bosquets sacrés furent interrogés sur leur connaissance générate des plantes médicinales et sur lews impressions concernant les changements survenus à la flore médicinale. Plus de soixante-quinze re`edes d’origine végétale sont actuellement utilisés par les Kpaa Mende, quelques unes de ces plantes sont ici reconnues pour la premiére fois, pour leur valeur médicinale au Sierra Leone. Un aspect significatif de l’ethnobotanique des Kpaa Mende est l’utilisation combinée de deux ou plusiers types de plantes pour guérir certains maux. La découverte de plantes rares ou peu fréquentes dans les bosquets, ainsi que lew utilité médicinale, aménent à discutir le rôle des bosquets sacrés dans la conservation des plantes médicinales.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Aiah R. Lebbie
    • 1
  • Raymond P. Guries
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesNjala University CollegePMB Freetown
  2. 2.Department of Forestry, 1630 Linden DriveUniversity of Wisconsin-MadisonMadisonUSA

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