Economic Botany

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 90–102 | Cite as

Introduced plants in the indigenous Pharmacopoeia of Northern South America

  • Bradley C. Bennett
  • Ghillean T. Prance
Article

Abstract

The intellectual property rights debate focuses on the flow of germplasm from developing tropical countries to developed temperate nations. Few investigators have addressed the converse. We discuss the abundance and importance of introduced plants in pharmacopoeias of northern South America. Introduced species commonly are employed as medicines throughout the region and include at least 216 Eurasian, North American, African, and Pacific species. Among the Shuar of lowland Ecuador, four introduced plants (Citrus aurantium, Cymbopogon citratus, Saccharum officinarum, and Zingiber officinale) are included in their most commonly prescribed remedies. The widespread use of introduced plants is due, in part, to the medicinal value of plants whose primary use is for food (e.g., Musa X paradisiacal Similarly, many introduced ornamentals also have therapeutic value (e.g., Hedychium coronarium). Other species have been introduced specifically as medicines (e.g., Aloe vera). Restrictions on the flow of germplasm and plant knowledge may protect the economic interests of governments and national industry. If applied bilaterally, however, constraints on the movement of plants will limit the continued evolution of traditional medicinal systems in areas where they are most needed.

Key Words

intellectual property rights medicinal plants non-native plants Northern South America pharmacopoeia 

Plantas Introducidas En La Farmacopea IndíGena Del Norte De AméRica Del Sur

Resumen

El debate sobre los derechos de propiedad intelectual se enfoca principalmente en el movimiento de germoplasma desde los paises en vias de desarrollado de las regíones tropicales hacia los paises desarrollados de la zona templada. Pocos investigadores han examinado lo contrario. Discutimos la abundancia y la importancia de plantas introducidas en las farmacopeas del norte de América del Sur. El uso medicinal de plantas introducidas es mu común y incluye por lo menos 216 especies de Europa, Asia, América del Norte, Africa, y la regián Pacífica. Entre las Shuaras de las tierras bajas de Ecuador, cuatro plantas introducidas (Citrus aurantium, Cymbopogon citratus, Saccharum officinarum, and Zingiber officinale) estan incluidas en sus remedios más comunes. El extenso uso de plantas introducidas, es en gran parie, debido al valor medicinal de plantas que tienen su uso primario como alimento (e.g., Musa X paradisiaca). Muchas plantas ornamentales también tienen valor terapéutico (e.g., Hedychium coronarium). Otras especies han sido introducidas específicamente como medicinas (por ejemplo, Aloe vera). Restricciones en el movimiento de germoplasma y conocimiento respecto a plantas quizás protejan el interés económico de gobiernos y industrias nationales. Sin embargo, si se aplica en una manera bilateral, restriciones en el movimiento de plantas limitará la evolutión continuada de sistemas tradiconales de medicina en los regiones en donde son más necesarias.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden Press, Bronx, NY 10458-5126 U.S.A 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bradley C. Bennett
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ghillean T. Prance
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida International UniversityMiami
  2. 2.Fairchild Tropical GardenMiami
  3. 3.Royal Botanic Gardens, KewRichmondUK

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