Economic Botany

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 47–62 | Cite as

Prospects for sustainable use and development of wild food plants in Ethiopia

  • Zemede Asfaw
  • Mesfin Tadesse


Field and herbarium studies on wild flowering plants of Ethiopia furnished 203 species consumed by the community. These account for about 3% of the higher plant species in the country and comprise herbs (37%), shrubs (32%), and trees (31%). Species with edible fruits contributed to 61.6%, leaves 27.7%, stems 14.4%, roots 13.3%, and seeds 10.3%. About 15% are considered famine foods. Forest habitats gave 102 species, woodlands 99, grasslands 83, bushlands 52, rocky and dry areas 47, cultivated places 41, riverbanks 31, and roadsides/ disturbed areas 25. The altitudinal distribution gave 148 species between 1500-2400 m, 144 below 1500 m and 81 above 2400 m a.s.l. Some species are wild and others slightly or strongly associated with humans, revealing a living analogue of the wild-semiwild-domesticated continuum. Full-scale ethnobotanical studies, implementing appropriate conservation measures and domesticating and integrating promising taxa into existing crops are favored for the purpose of diversification of food sources, ensuring food security, and maintenance of biodiversity and environmental integrity.

Key Words

wild edible plants ethnobotany diversification conservation Ethiopia 


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Zemede Asfaw
    • 1
  • Mesfin Tadesse
    • 2
  1. 1.National HerbariumAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.National HerbariumAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia

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