Uses, Knowledge, and Management of the Threatened Pepper-Bark Tree (Warburgia salutaris) in Southern Mozambique

  • Annae M. SenkoroEmail author
  • Charlie M. Shackleton
  • Robert A. Voeks
  • Ana I. Ribeiro
Original Article


Uses, Knowledge, and Management of the Threatened Pepper-Bark Tree (Warburgia salutaris) in Southern Mozambique.Warburgia salutaris, the pepper-bark tree, is one of the most highly valued medicinal plant species in southern Africa. Due to its popularity in folk medicine, it is overexploited in many regions and is deemed threatened throughout its range. We identified cultural and social drivers of use, compared knowledge distribution, determined management practices, and explored local ecological knowledge related to the species in the Lebombo Mountains, Tembe River, and Futi Corridor areas in southern Mozambique. Stratified random, semistructured interviews were conducted (182), complemented by 17 focus group discussions in the three study areas. W. salutaris was used medicinally to treat 12 health concerns, with the bark being the most commonly used part. Knowledge of the species varied between the three areas, but not with respondent gender or age. Harvesting was mostly through vertical bark stripping (71% of informants). To promote sustainable use of the species, we suggest multiple conservation approaches, including the use of alternative species with the same application, substitution of bark by leaves, and increases in alternative sources of plant material through cultivation. Additional information on species demography, harvest impact, and post-harvest bark recovery rate area is required. Information obtained in this work can contribute to management guidelines and plans for the species in Mozambique.

Key Words

Folk medicine gender local ecological knowledge quantitative ethnobotany threatened species trade 



We would like to thank the communities in the study area for sharing their knowledge, Mr. Firmino Guiliche for refining of the questionnaire and data organization, and Mr. Hugo Mabilana for the study area map. We are also grateful to the three anonymous reviewers for their insightful comments/suggestions.

Funding Information

We are grateful to the Organization for Women in Science for the Developing World (OWSD), Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA), Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program, World Wildlife Fund, and Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia through the research unit UID/AGR/04129/2013 (LEAF) for funding.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Authorization for the research was granted by traditional and local leaders, as well as ethics approval by the departmental committee at Rhodes University (November 2015).

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Environmental ScienceRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  2. 2.Departmento de Ciências BiológicasUniversidade Eduardo MondlaneMaputoMozambique
  3. 3.Department of Geography and the EnvironmentCalifornia State University, FullertonFullertonUSA
  4. 4.Linking Landscape, Environment, Agriculture and Food (LEAF)Universidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  5. 5.Centro de BiotecnologiaUniversidade Eduardo MondlaneMaputoMozambique

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