Local Knowledge, Uses, and Factors Determining the Use of Strychnos spinosa Organs in Benin (West Africa)

  • Hospice Gérard Gracias AvakoudjoEmail author
  • Achille Hounkpèvi
  • Rodrigue Idohou
  • Mamidou Witabouna Koné
  • Achille Ephrem Assogbadjo
Original Article


Green monkey orange (Strychnos spinosa) is an important multipurpose tree in rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, including Benin. The objectives of this study were to (i) examine the various indigenous uses of Strychnos spinosa, (ii) assess local perception of the major threats to Strychnos spinosa, and (iii) identify the conservation strategies adopted by local communities to ensure its sustainable use in Benin. A participatory rural appraisal study was undertaken across three climatic zones in Benin. Data were collected through structured questionnaires involving 733 informants from 22 ethnic and 7 sociolinguistic groups. Correspondence analysis (CA) showed that S. spinosa is most widely used in the Sudanian zone (20 uses). About 73% of the informants used Strychnos spinosa as food, and 68% used it for medicine. The most valued organs were fruits, leaves, bark, and seeds. The major threats to Strychnos spinosa were human activities rather than climatic factors. Religion and cultural values were the main strategies adopted by local communities to conserve the species. The value of Strychnos spinosa is well appreciated in Benin, and local knowledge depends on the particular climatic zone, ethnic group, study level, and gender.


Strychnos spinosa Ethnobotany Local knowledge Traditional uses Wild edible fruits Benin 


L'oranger de singe (Strychnos spinosa) est un arbre à usage multiple important pour les communautés rurales d'Afrique subsaharienne dont le Bénin. Les objectifs de cette étude étaient de (i) examiner les différentes utilisations indigènes de Strychnos spinosa, (ii) évaluer la perception locale des principales menaces pesant sur l’espèce et (iii) identifier les stratégies de conservation adoptées par les communautés locales pour assurer son utilisation durable au Bénin. Une recherche participative a été entreprise en milieu rural dans trois zones climatiques du Bénin. Les données ont été collectées au moyen de questionnaires structurés auxquels ont participé 733 personnes appartenant à 22 groupes ethniques et de 7 groupes sociolinguistiques. L'analyse factorielle de correspondance (AFC) a montré que S. spinosa est plus largement utilisé dans la zone soudanienne (20 utilisations). Environ 73% des personnes interrogées utilisent S. spinosa à des fins alimentaires et 68% l’utilisent à des fins médicinales. Les organes les plus prisés étaient les fruits, les feuilles, l’écorce et les graines. Les principales menaces pesant sur S. spinosa sont plus liées aux activités humaines qu’aux facteurs climatiques. Les principales stratégies adoptées par les communautés locales pour conserver l'espèce sont d’ordre religieux et culturels. L'étude a montré que les populations locales accordent de la valeur à Strychnos spinosa au Bénin et que les connaissances locales dépendent de la zone climatique, du groupe ethnique, du niveau d'étude et du sexe des enquêtés.



Our sincere appreciation goes to the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) and West African Science Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) for providing the scholarship and financial support for this program. We are grateful to Amangbégnon Ignace Samson and Obognon Rodrigue Kpatindé for their help during the data collection, to Charles Kofi Nelimor for language editing, and also to members of the local communities who have accepted to share their knowledge with us. Finally, we acknowledge the anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments on this manuscript.

Ethics Research Standards

We strictly followed all the research ethics during this study. The objectives of the study were initially explained to the local authorities of the surveyed villages to obtain their approval regarding contents of the questionnaire that was asked to the population. After the completion of study, the preliminary result was presented to the opinion leaders of each village to ensure absence of any information that is a matter of community secrecy and/or indigenous knowledge whose divulgation would pose a threat to community survival. So, we assure that the outcome of this research is shareable with the scientific community.


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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.West African Science Service Center on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL) Graduate Research Program on Climate Change and Biodiversity, Unité de Formation et de Recherche BiosciencesUniversité Félix Houphoüet–BoignyAbidjanCôte d’Ivoire
  2. 2.Laboratory of Applied Ecology, Faculty of Agronomic SciencesUniversity of Abomey–CalaviCotonouBenin
  3. 3.Laboratoire de Biomathématiques et d’Estimations Forestières, Faculté des Sciences AgronomiquesUniversité d’Abomey–CalaviCotonouBenin
  4. 4.Ecole de Gestion et Production Végétale et SemencièreUniversité Nationale d’AgricultureKetouBenin
  5. 5.UFR Sciences de la NatureUniversité Nangui AbrogouaAbidjanCôte d’Ivoire
  6. 6.Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques en Côte d’IvoireAbidjanCôte d’Ivoire

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