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An ethnobotanical survey in the Limpopo National Park, Gaza province, Mozambique: traditional knowledge related to plant use

Abstract

This study aims to document the Mozambican traditional knowledge related to the use of plants. An ethnobotanical survey was conducted in the Limpopo National Park (Gaza province, Mozambique). Data were gathered through field expeditions which involved interviews with five local healers, selected as key informants. 101 plant species, belonging to 49 families and 83 genera, related to traditional uses were recorded. For each species, vernacular name, use categories and used parts are reported. Most of the identified plants are used for medicinal purposes (94.1%) with an analogously extensive (44.1%) also directed to food use. Plants are also used for veterinary (14.7%), cosmetic (12.7%), and handicraft (12.7%) purposes. Whereas only few species are used as fuel (4.9%), several species (37.3%) are associated to local beliefs or mystical rituals. Roots are the most used part. To identify the most important plant species used by indigenous communities, an ethnobotanical value was calculated through Uses Totaled index. Based on such cultural index, the most valuable species are Euclea divinorum, Ximenia caffra, Elaeodendron schlechterianum and Peltophorum africanum. Our findings highlight the potential of Mozambique’s flora for future conservation and development research aimed at identifying genetic resources which could also open the way to notable commercial perspectives, including through the Access and Benefit Sharing process.

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Acknowledgements

The authors would like to express their sincere thanks to the key informants who supported this work and to the Indigenous and Local Communities of the Limpopo National Park, custodians of knowledge of great scientific value. This work has been conducted within the framework of SECOSUD II project (Conservation and equitable use of biological diversity in the SADC region: from geographic information system (GIS) to Spatial Systemic Decision Support System (SSDSS) – AID: 9695) founded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation. The authors thank the anonymous referees for their contribution.

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AG designed the research project. RV coordinated and carried out the data collection. TSMM supported the data collection. FA, GT and LM provided a general contribution to the drafting of this manuscript. DO performed the taxonomic revision. EN was the principal investigator. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Enrico Nicosia.

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The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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This paper belongs to a Topical Collection originated from a long scientifc collaboration between Mozambican and Italian universities promoted by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation.

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Nicosia, E., Valenti, R., Guillet, A. et al. An ethnobotanical survey in the Limpopo National Park, Gaza province, Mozambique: traditional knowledge related to plant use. Rend. Fis. Acc. Lincei 33, 303–318 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12210-022-01063-y

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12210-022-01063-y

Keywords

  • Access and benefit sharing
  • Biodiversity
  • Ethnobotany
  • Genetic resources
  • Indigenous and local communities
  • Traditional knowledge