Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 62, Issue 2, pp 221–234 | Cite as

Wild and semi-wild leafy vegetables used by the Maale and Ari ethnic communities in southern Ethiopia

  • Berhane KidaneEmail author
  • L. J. G. van der Maesen
  • Zemede Asfaw
  • M. S. M. Sosef
  • Tinde van Andel
Research Article


We studied wild and semi-wild leafy vegetables used by the Maale and Ari ethnic communities in southern Ethiopia. Quantitative and qualitative ethnobotanical methods, including individual and focus group (n = 18) discussions, field observations, and individual interviews (n = 144), were used in three rural kebeles (lowest administrative unit). The two ethnic communities consumed 30 leafy vegetable species grouped into 22 genera and 15 families. The study participants underlined that wild and semi-wild leafy vegetables are important components in traditional dishes, more frequently during periods of food shortage. The communities showed high preference for Balanites aegyptiaca and Solanum dasyphyllum in the Maale and Ari study sites respectively. Taste, marketability and above ground edible biomass were farmers’ main selection criteria suitable for leafy vegetables cultivation. The transfer of local knowledge within the community on wild and semi-wild leafy vegetables is not differentiated by gender or age and thus enables knowledge continuity, although harvesting and cooking activities are considered as women’s tasks by the communities. Major threats to wild and semi-wild leafy vegetables need to be minimized and complementary in-situ and ex situ conservation strategies scaled up.


Food shortage Leafy vegetables Social group differentiation Traditional botanical knowledge 



This research project was financed by The Netherlands organization for international cooperation in higher education (Netherlands Fellowship Programmes). The research project is financed as part of the PhD research of the first author. Our gratefulness goes to the respondents in all study sites who shared their knowledge. Our appreciation goes also to staff of the National Herbarium of the Addis Ababa University and the Biosystematics group in Wageningen University and Research for their technical assistance. We are also thankful to zonal, district and kebele administrators and experts in the study area.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Berhane Kidane
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • L. J. G. van der Maesen
    • 3
  • Zemede Asfaw
    • 4
  • M. S. M. Sosef
    • 2
    • 5
  • Tinde van Andel
    • 3
  1. 1.Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural ResearchForestry Research CenterAddis AbabaEthiopia
  2. 2.Biosystematics GroupWageningen University and ResearchWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Naturalis Biodiversity CenterLeiden UniversityLeidenThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Department of Plant Biology and Biodiversity Management and The National HerbariumAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  5. 5.Botanic Garden MeiseMeiseBelgium

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