Economic Botany

, 63:363 | Cite as

Caatinga Ethnobotany: Anthropogenic Landscape Modification and Useful Species in Brazil’s Semi-Arid Northeast

  • Lucilene Lima dos Santos
  • Marcelo Alves Ramos
  • Suzene Izídio da Silva
  • Margareth Ferreira de Sales
  • Ulysses Paulino de AlbuquerqueEmail author


Caatinga Ethnobotany: Anthropogenic Landscape Modification and Useful Species in Brazil’s Semi-Arid Northeast This study explores the contribution of anthropogenic landscapes in providing useful botanical resources to a Caatinga community in Pernambuco, Brazil. Ethnobotanical data were collected through semi-structured interviews using the checklist-interview method and by means of a “field herbarium” of the most abundant species in the anthropogenic zones. We recorded 119 species distributed in 36 families, of which 79 were found to be useful. Forage was the most prominent use category, containing 84% of the citations, followed by medicinals (36.70%), foods (10.12%), and wood (8.86%). Herbaceous species predominated (63.29%), followed by shrubs (3.79%), sub-shrubs (21.51%), trees (8.86%), and creepers (2.53%). Trees exhibited a greater number of uses than other life-forms (p < 0.05). Significant differences in richness were found, with the highest richness of species (χ2 = 60.28, p < 0.05), genera (χ2 = 49.03, p < 0.05), and families (χ2 = 20.16, p < 0.05) appearing in the rainy season. We concluded that fodder use was the most important category in our anthropogenic research areas, accounting for a higher number of species, genera, and families. The next most important categories were medicinal, timber, and food plants, respectively.

Key Words

Disturbed areas ethnobotany useful plants seasonal forests seasonality hypothesis 



The authors thank the Carão community for their receptivity and participation, those responsible for the administration of Altinho city, the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) for financial support (“Edital Universal”) and the productivity grant to U. P. Albuquerque, Dr. Elcida L. Araújo and Dr. Valdeline Atanazio da Silva for the comments and suggestions, and members of the Laboratório de Etnobotânica Aplicada for the help with the fieldwork—especially to Ana Carolina O. da Silva, Cybelle Maria de Albuquerque Almeida, Fábio José Vieira, Flávia dos Santos Silva, Gustavo Taboada Soldati, Henrique Hermenegildo, Joabe Gomes de Melo, Luciana Gomes de Sousa Nascimento, Nélson Leal Alencar, Shana Sampaio Sieber, and Thiago Antônio de Sousa Araújo. Finally, we would like to thank Dr. Robert Voeks and two anonymous reviewers for constructive comments and criticism on the manuscript.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lucilene Lima dos Santos
    • 1
  • Marcelo Alves Ramos
    • 1
  • Suzene Izídio da Silva
    • 2
  • Margareth Ferreira de Sales
    • 3
  • Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Departamento de Biologia, Área de Botânica, Laboratório de Etnobotânica AplicadaUniversidade Federal Rural de PernambucoPernambucoBrazil
  2. 2.Departamento de Biologia, Área de Botânica, Laboratório de Recursos Econômicos e FitoquímicaUniversidade Federal Rural de PernambucoPernambucoBrazil
  3. 3.Departamento de Biologia, Área de BotânicaUniversidade Federal Rural de PernambucoPernambucoBrazil

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