Local Criteria for Medicinal Plant Selection

  • Patrícia Muniz de MedeirosEmail author
  • Ana Haydée Ladio
  • Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque


Some of the factors that influence the entrance of plants in a pharmacopoeia (inclusion) and the degree of importance of these plants to a human population (differential use) are described in this chapter. Certain variables, such as “chemical efficiency,” “cultural aspects,” and “organoleptic properties,” are highlighted. We show evidence that the concentration of certain compounds can determine a plant’s entrance and local importance. Recent studies have also shown that a plant’s taste and smell can influence its inclusion in local pharmacopoeias, so that taste and smell can be indicators of medicinal × non-medicinal species. We also show some studies that point out the role of taste and smell in influencing the therapeutic indications that are trated by a given species. We also discuss why some species are present in local medical systems even without chemical efficiency. The genetic and cultural nature of medicinal plant selection is also discussed.


Evolutionary ethnobiology Human ecology Local ecological knowledge Plant resource use 



The authors thank all members of the Laboratory of Theoretical and Applied Ethnobiology (LEA) for the important discussions that influenced this chapter. This work was supported by funding from the National Counsel of Technological and Scientific Development (CNPq—Proc. 471989/2012-6).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Patrícia Muniz de Medeiros
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ana Haydée Ladio
    • 2
  • Ulysses Paulino Albuquerque
    • 3
  1. 1.Ethnobiology and Human Ecology Group, Center of Biological and Health SciencesUniversidade Federal do Oeste da BahiaMorada Nobre, BarreirasBrazil
  2. 2.Laboratorio Ecotono (Ecotono Laboratory), INIBIOMA—Instituto de Investigaciones en Biodiversidad y Medio Ambiente (Biodiversity and Environmental Research Institute), CONICET-Universidad Nacional del Comahue (National University of Comahue)Centro Regional Universitario BarilocheQuintral, San Carlos de Bariloche-Río NegroArgentina
  3. 3.Laboratory of Applied and Theoretical Ethnobiology, Biology DepartmentUniversidade Federal Rural de PernambucoDois Irmãos, RecifeBrazil

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