Economic Botany

, 65:129 | Cite as

Diversity, Geographical, and Consumption Patterns of Traditional Vegetables in Sociolinguistic Communities in Benin: Implications for Domestication and Utilization1

  • Enoch Gbenato Achigan-DakoEmail author
  • Sognigbe N’Danikou
  • Francoise Assogba-Komlan
  • Bianca Ambrose-Oji
  • Adam Ahanchede
  • Margaret W. Pasquini


Diversity, Geographical, and Consumption Patterns of Traditional Vegetables in Sociolinguistic Communities in Benin: Implications for Domestication and Utilization. Traditional vegetables in many African rural areas are an important part of the daily diet and economy but have been poorly documented until recently. We undertook a survey in Benin on the diversity and patterns of use of traditional vegetables by 18 sociolinguistic groups in the three major phytogeographical regions. Major groups include the Yoruba–Nagot, Fon, Bariba, Adja, Cotafon, and Ditammari. Focus groups and field visits were conducted in 49 villages. Species richness at the country level and in phytogeographical regions was estimated using species accumulation curves. Our results indicated that 245 species belonging to 62 families are used as vegetable resources all over the country. The most frequently used families include Amaranthaceae, Asteraceae, Cucurbitaceae, and Leguminoseae. About 80% of collected vegetables are wild resources; only 19% were clearly under cultivation. Herbs were the most widely consumed life form. The Guinean and the Sudanian regions exhibit similar species richness while in the Sudano–Guinean region vegetable richness is higher. The use of a species as a vegetable depends not only on socio–cultural attributes but also on geographical occurrence. Based on this inventory, we identified needs for further research and activities for both the conservation and promotion of traditional vegetables.

Key Words

Benin diversity phytogeographical regions sociolinguistic groups traditional vegetable 


Diversité, Distribution Géographiques, et Mode de Consommation des Légumes Traditionnels dans les Groupes Sociolinguistiques du Bénin: Implications pour la Domestication et l’Utilisation des Ressources. Les légumes traditionnels représentent une part importante dans le régime alimentaire quotidien et l’économie des communautés rurales en Afrique. Cependant, ils ont été négligés par la recherche jusqu’à récemment. Au Bénin, nous avons entrepris un inventaire de la diversité et des types d’usage des légumes traditionnels au niveau de 18 groupes sociolinguistiques, dans les trois grandes zones phytogéographiques du pays. Les groupes linguistiques enquêtés comprennent les Yoruba–Nagot, Fon, Bariba, Adja, Cotafon, et Ditammari. Des entretiens de groupes et visites de terrain ont été organisés dans 49 villages. La richesse spécifique au niveau national et au niveau des zones phytogéographiques a été estimée par la méthode de courbes d’accumulation spécifique. Nos résultats indiquent que 245 espèces appartenant à 62 familles de plantes sont exploitées comme légumes au niveau national. Les familles fréquemment utilisées sont les Amaranthaceae, Asteraceae, Cucurbitaceae, et les Leguminoseae. Environ 80% des légumes collectés sont des ressources sauvages et seulement 19% sont clairement cultivés. Les herbacées représentent la majeur partie des légumes. Les zones Guinéenne et Soudanienne présentent des richesses spécifiques similaires, tandis que la richesse spécifique de légumes est supérieure dans la zone Soudano–Guinéenne. L’utilisation d’une espèce comme légume dépend non seulement des attributs socioculturels mais aussi de la distribution géographique des especes. En se basant sur cet inventaire nous avons identifié les besoins de recherche et les actions de conservation et aussi de promotion des légumes traditionnels.



We gratefully acknowledge funding from the United Kingdom’s Darwin Initiative through project 15–003 to carry out this study. We thank H. Yedomonhan and A. C. Adomou from the National Herbarium of Benin for the identification and maintenance of specimen vouchers. We thank the following colleagues for their assistance during collecting missions and focus group discussions: Arlette Adjatin, Edgar Avohou, Alexandre Dansi, Ines Deleke Koko, Armel Mensah, Victoire Ahlé, Noel Ahononga, and Joel Azagba. The first author is grateful to Jun Li for guidance for comparison of species accumulation curves. We thank R. Voeks for the final editing of our manuscript.

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Enoch Gbenato Achigan-Dako
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Sognigbe N’Danikou
    • 1
  • Francoise Assogba-Komlan
    • 3
  • Bianca Ambrose-Oji
    • 4
  • Adam Ahanchede
    • 1
  • Margaret W. Pasquini
    • 5
  1. 1.Faculty of Agronomic Sciences (FSA)University of Abomey-CalaviCotonouBenin
  2. 2.Plant Resources of Tropical AfricaNairobiKenya
  3. 3.National Institute of Agricultural Research of Benin (INRAB)CotonouBenin
  4. 4.CAZS Natural ResourcesBangor UniversityGwyneddUK
  5. 5.Centro Interdisciplinario de Estudios sobre DesarrolloUniversidad de los AndesBogotáColombia

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