Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 59, Issue 7, pp 1329–1347

Wild edible plants traditionally gathered in Gorbeialdea (Biscay, Basque Country)

  • Gorka Menendez-Baceta
  • Laura Aceituno-Mata
  • Javier Tardío
  • Victoria Reyes-García
  • Manuel Pardo-de-Santayana
Research Article


This ethnobotanical study aims to describe the domain of wild edible plants in Gorbeialdea (Biscay, Iberian Peninsula), and to assess the cultural importance of the different species and food categories. Field work was conducted between 2008 and 2010, interviewing 103 informants about the traditional use of wild plants for food. The edible use of 49 species was recorded, 45% of them gathered for their fruits. The most important species coincide with those registered in other regions in the north of the Iberian Peninsula (Prunus spinosa, Rubus ulmifolius, Castanea sativa, Fragaria vesca, Rumex acetosa, Vaccinium myrtillus and Arbutus unedo). However, the importance of some species and uses that had not been previously recorded as edible in the ethnobotanical literature of the Iberian Peninsula, highlights the singularity of the area. The consumption of the leaves of Fagus sylvatica, the seeds of Pinus radiata, and the shoots of Pteridium aquilinum are some examples of specific uses. The eating of the fruits of Quercus robur, and Q. ilex was common until some decades ago and is still remembered by the informants. However, the consumption of those fruits has now a social stigma, and as shown in this paper, it can be overlooked by a methodology only based on open interviews. The most important use-category was ‘fruits’, following the trend found in other northern regions of the Iberian and Italian Peninsulas. ‘Snack vegetables’ is also a relevant category, including 35% of the cited species, with a high diversity of chewed plants, mainly as hunger or thirst quenchers. On the contrary, there was a low valorization of condiments and elaborated vegetables.


Ethnobotany Wild edible plants Traditional knowledge Iberian Peninsula 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gorka Menendez-Baceta
    • 1
  • Laura Aceituno-Mata
    • 2
  • Javier Tardío
    • 2
  • Victoria Reyes-García
    • 3
  • Manuel Pardo-de-Santayana
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Biología (Botánica)Universidad Autónoma de MadridMadridSpain
  2. 2.Instituto Madrileño de Investigación y Desarrollo RuralAgrario y AlimentarioAlcalá de HenaresSpain
  3. 3.ICREA and Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia AmbientalsUniversitat Autònoma de BarcelonaBarcelonaSpain

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