Skip to main content


Log in

Sustainable wild-collection of medicinal and edible plants in Lefke region of North Cyprus

  • Published:
Agroforestry Systems Aims and scope Submit manuscript


The purpose of this study is to record medicinal and edible wild plants and associated traditional knowledge in the five villages (Lefke, Yeşilırmak, Gemikonağı, Yedidalga, Bağlıköy) located in Lefke region of North Cyprus. Data on the target plants and relevant traditional knowledge were collected during autumn and winter of 2013 and spring of 2014. These data upon (e.g. plant harvested, local name, part of plant used and type of use) were obtained from the informants by semi-structured and structured interviews. Accordingly, a total number of 135 informants of various ages and backgrounds and with a sound traditional knowledge of the target plants were interviewed. A total of 47 species (8 medicinal, 18 edible and 21 edible-medicinal) belonging to 26 families was recorded as a result of the structured interviews. 11 of the species are cultivated in small-scale home gardens. The species are collected for a variety purposes, including traditional food (47 %), spice (16 %), pickle and/or appetizer (9 %), herbal tea (11 %), medicine (2 %), ornament (2 %), fruits and/or jam (13 %). The plant parts most widely used are young stems (36 %), leaves (33 %), fruits (14 %), flowers (5 %), aerial part (4 %), young shoots (4 %), bulbs (3 %) and roots (1 %). Major processing techniques include: boiled (24 %), raw (19 %) and spice for food flavouring (15 %). Assessment of the associated traditional knowledge shows that this knowledge has been in decline in the region due to the impact of modernization. A range of responses for the maintenance and transmission of traditional knowledge with the target plants (e.g. establishment of a database, support for small-scale cultivation in home gardens and eco-labelling of the plant material) were proposed. It is hoped that the results of this study will draw attention on the neglect of traditional knowledge in the island of Cyprus in terms of its significance for intangible cultural heritage, biodiversity conservation, sustainable rural development strategies and the vitality of traditional food systems.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or Ebook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6

Similar content being viewed by others


  1. According to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (1992), the term traditional knowledge refers to the “knowledge, innovations and practices of indigenous and local communities around the world” [Article 8(j) and 18.4 of the Convention]. Traditional knowledge seems to have significant positive effects for human well-being including determination of the co-viability of social and ecosystem dynamics (Gundersan and Holling 2002), the design of people-centred resource management approaches (Cunningham 2001), playing an active role in biodiversity conservation and ecosystem management (Colding and Folke 2001; Berkes et al. 2003; Houde 2007) and forming the basis for decisions and strategies in many practical areas such as medical treatment and agriculture (Nakashima and Roué 2002).


  • Berkes F, Colding J, Folke C (2003) Navigating social-ecological systems: building resilience for complexity and change. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Cetinkaya G (2009) Challenges for the maintenance of traditional knowledge in the satoyama and satoumi ecosystems, Noto Peninsula, Japan. J Hum Ecol Rev 16(1):27–40

    Google Scholar 

  • Cetinkaya G (2010) Conservation and sustainable wild-collection of medicinal and aromatic plants in Köprülü Kanyon National Park, Turkey. J Med Plant Res 4(12):1108–1114

    Google Scholar 

  • Cetinkaya G (2011) Factors affecting the sustainability of medicinal and aromatic plants in Koprulu Kanyon National Park. Int J Ecosyst Ecol (IJEES) 1(1):9–14

    Google Scholar 

  • Colding J, Folke C (2001) Social taboos: invisible systems of local resource management and biological conservation. J Ecol Appl 11(2):584–600

    Google Scholar 

  • Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) (1992) Accessed 12 Jan 2015

  • Cunningham AB (2001) Applied ethnobotany: people, wild plant use and conservation. Earthscan, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Davis SD, Heywood VH, Hamilton AC (eds) (1994) Centers of plant diversity. WWF/IUCN, Cambridge

    Google Scholar 

  • Della A (1987) The plant word of Cyprus. Cyprus to-day 1987 XXV 3:2–13

  • Della A (1999) The Cyprus flora in checklist format; native or naturalized, cultivated, endemic, rarities, additions. International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Rome. Agricultural Research Institute, Cyprus

  • Della A, Paraskeva-Hadjichambi D, Hadjichambis AC (2006) An ethnobotanical survey of wild edible plants of Paphos and Larnaca countryside of Cyprus. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2:34

  • Devlet Planlama Örgütü (2013) KKTC nüfus sayımı, 2011. Bülten kesin sonuçlar ikinci aşama, Ağustos 2013. Accessed 02 February 2015

  • EU Aid Programme for the Turkish Community (2010) Kuzey batı bölgesi yerel kalkınma stratejisi. LEADER, Lefkoşa

    Google Scholar 

  • Georgio G, Gavrilides A (1999) Noon wood forest products in Cyprus. Expert Meeting on Developing and Coordinating the Activities for Non-wood Forest Products, FAO-Beirut

  • Hadjikyriakou GN (2002) The forest fire situation in Cyprus. International Forest Fire News (ECE/FAO) 23: 71–76

  • Hadjikyriakou GN (2007) Aromatic and spicy plants in Cyprus, from antiquity to the present day. Bank of Cyprus Cultural Foundation & Forests’ Association Graduates of the Cyprus Forestry College. Nicosia

  • Hadjikyriakou GN, Hadjisterkotis E (2002) The adventive plants of Cyprus with new records of invasive species. In: E Hadjisterkotis (ed) Proceedings of the XXVth International Congress of the International Union of Game biologists and IXth International Symposium Perdix. Z. Jagdwiss. 48, Supplement, pp 59–71

  • Hamilton A (2003) Medicinal plants and conservation: Issues and approaches. WWF-UK. Accessed 20 Jan 2015

  • Houde N (2007) The six faces of traditional ecological knowledge: challenges and opportunities for Canadian co-management arrangement. J Ecol Soc 12(2):34

    Google Scholar 

  • Huntington HP (2000) Using traditional ecological knowledge in science: methods and applications. J Ecol Appl 10(5):1270–1274

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kallas J (2010) Edible wild plants, wild foods from dirt to plate. Published by Gibbs Smith, Utah

    Google Scholar 

  • Kirikiri R, Nugent G (1995) Harvesting of New Zealand native birds by Maori. In: Grigg GC, Hale PT, Lunney D (eds) Conservation through sustainable use of wildlife. Center for Conservation Biology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, pp 54–59

    Google Scholar 

  • Lange D (2006) International trade in medicinal and aromatic plants. In: Bogers RJ, LE Craker, Lange D (eds) Medicinal and aromatic plants, Chapter 11. Springer, Berlin, pp 155–170

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  • Médail F, Quézel P (1997) Hot-spots analysis for the conservation of the land biodiversity in the Mediterranean Basin. Ann Mo Bot Gard 84:112–127

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Medicinal Plant Specialist Group (2007) International standard for sustainable wild collection of medicinal and aromatic plants (ISSC-MAP), Version 1.0. Bundesamt für Naturschutz (BfN), MPSG/SSC/IUCN, WWF Germany, and TRAFFIC, Bonn, Gland, Frankfurt, Cambridge (BfN-Skripten 195)

  • Meikle RD (1985) Flora of Cyprus, vol II. Bentham-Moxon Trust (UK), Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, pp 833–1969

    Google Scholar 

  • Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment (2005) CORINE Land cover 2000 (CLC2000) Cyprus. Grant Agreement Re. No. 3412-B2004.EEA.51822. Final Report. Lefkosia

  • Myers AA, Giller PS (eds) (1988) Analytical biogeography: an integrated approach to the study of animal and plant distributions. Champmann & Hall, London

    Google Scholar 

  • Nakashima DJ, Roué M (2002) Indigenous knowledge, peoples and sustainable practice. In: Timmerman P (ed) Encyclopedia of global environmental change: social and economic dimensions of global environmental change. Wiley, Chichester, pp 314–324

    Google Scholar 

  • Panda T (2014) Traditional knowledge on wild edible plants as livelihood food in Odisha, India. J Biol Earth Sci 4(2):B144–B159

    Google Scholar 

  • Pardo-de-Santayana M, Tardío J, Blanco E, Carvalho AM, Lastra JJ, Miguel ES, Morales R (2007) Traditional knowledge of wild edible plants used in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal): a comparative study. J Ethnobiol Enthnomed 3:27

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Raus T, Scholz H (2004) Contribution to the flora of Cyprus: a new species of Crypsis (Poaceae). Willdenowia 34:457–462

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Savvides L (2000) Edible wild plants of Cyprus. Philippides P, Papayiannis Chr: Agricultural Regions of Cyprus. The Department of Statistics and Research Ministry of Finance and the Agricultural Research Institute. Agricultural Studies: Report No.1. Republic of Cyprus 1983

  • Schippmann U, Leaman D, Cunningham AB (2006) A comparison of cultivation and wild collection of medicinal and aromatic plants under sustainability aspects. Journal of Springer. Accessed 12 January 2015

  • Sfikas G (2006) Wild flowers of Cyprus. Efstathiadis Group S.A, Athens

    Google Scholar 

  • Tsintides TC, Hadjikyriakou GN, Christodoulou CS (2002) Trees and shrubs in Cyprus. Foundation Anastasios G. Leventis—Cyprus Forest Foundation, Lefkosia

    Google Scholar 

  • UNESCO-FAO (1969) Ecological study of the Mediterranean zone: vegetation map of the Mediterranean zone-explanatory notes. Arid Zone Res 30:90

  • USAID (2006) FAA 119 Biodiversity analysis. Prepared by DevTech Systems, Inc. Under an EPIQ II subcontract to PA Consulting. EPP3R015-4S-003

  • Vural M, Zeydanlı UU, Beton D, Meraklı MK (2010) Determining core areas of floral species richness in the Karpaz Peninsula (Cyprus). In: TOP biodiversity 2010—conference proceedings, Intercollege-Larnaca, Cyprus, pp 154–155

  • World Health Organization (WHO) (2002) WHO traditional medicine strategy 2002–2005. Geneva, Accessed 25 Jan 2015

  • Yapıcıoğlu İ (2000) The wild flowers of North Cyprus. Elit Yayın Tanıtım Ltd. Şti, İstanbul

    Google Scholar 

  • Yıldırım KF (2010) Kuzey Kıbrıs’ın Faydalı Bitkilerinin ve Kullanım Alanlarının Araştırılması. Dissertation, University of Near East

  • Yilmaz N, Alas T, Abak K, Gücel S, KayaYildirim F (2012) Wild edible plants of North Cyprus and their traditional use. Acta Hort (ISHS) 960:129–133. Accessed 21 January 2015

Download references


I would like to thank to the students for their help in the field survey: Sinem Ebedi, Senem Asrak and Gülsüm Yıldız. I also thank to all of the informants who contributed to this study.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Gulay Cetinkaya Ciftcioglu.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Ciftcioglu, G.C. Sustainable wild-collection of medicinal and edible plants in Lefke region of North Cyprus. Agroforest Syst 89, 917–931 (2015).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: