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Albert Nekrasov
Albert Nekrasov

Download File Collection Of Exotic Plants 413.zip WORK



Fieldwork was conducted between July and September 2007. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, collection of medicinal plants in the homegardens, forest walks, a walk along the river banks, participant observation, informal conversation, cross check through voucher specimens and a focus group interview with children.




Download File Collection of exotic plants 413.zip


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The aim of the study was to document the medicinal tradition, thus contributing to an increased understanding of the distribution of knowledge among the community inhabitants, and to record the practices related to medicinal plant preparation and administration. Medicinal plant habitats and the frequency and use of cultivated and exotic plants were also investigated.


Data were collected through household interviews, collection of medicinal plants in the homegardens, forest walks, a walk along the river banks, participant observation, informal conversation, cross check through voucher specimens and a focus group interview with children.


Some informants indicated that a number of medicinal plants were collected along the banks of the Perené River, where some of the community members had their chacra. A one day trip with three women from the village was organized to collect the medicinal plants of that area as well as information on uses and preparation. The women who participated in this collection were aged 25, 35 and 36 and they all had children.


A total number of 402 taxa were indicated as having medicinal properties by the informants when applying the different ethnobotanical methods. The plants have been identified to the following different taxonomic hierarchic level: species (208 plants), genus (93 plants), family (54 plants), not identified (47 plants) (See Additional file 1). The taxa identified to family level (355 plants), belong to 72 distinct families. The six most important families in terms of number of taxa were Asteraceae, Araceae, Rubiaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Solanaceae and Piperaceae (Table 1). The plants indicated as medicinal were mostly herbs, but the local inhabitants used also shrubs, trees, vines, epiphytes, lianas and ferns (Table 2).


A special group of plants were the so called 'pinitsi' and 'ivenki': these seemed to be the most traditional and sometimes secret plants and were always planted near the house. The pinitsi were small herbs of which unfortunately none could be identified either because their owners did not allow their collection or because they asked that their identity and use would not be revealed to others. These were respectively the cases for the shaman and the local midwife. The ivenki (Cyperus spp.) were tall herbs often planted close to the entrance to the homegarden. The most frequent uses of the pinitsi and ivenki were to alleviate parturition pains, for children care (for example to bathe the babies to make them stronger against illnesses, to make babies sleep, to cure fever in children) and against sicknesses in the cultural belief.


We registered a great variation of uses attributed to the same species by different informants, even for those plants that were well known in the community (whose medicinal use was reported by more than 10 informants). As an example Dieffenbachia costata Klotzsch ex Schott (Araceae) was reported by 23 informants against 10 different conditions/diseases (see Table 8 and Additional file 1).


A recent study published on the medicinal concepts and plants uses among the Yanesha group [60] allows a comparison with the Asháninka of our study. The data on the Yanesha were collected in three communities in the Oxapampa province (Pasco Region) over a period of three years, working with 30 informants. Six hundred and seven herbarium samples were collected all together, and a total of two hundred and forty nine species were designated as medicinal [60]. Our data on the Asháninka were collected over a period of three months in one community working with a total of 37 adult indigenous informants and 17 children. In this short period we collected a total of 402 herbarium samples corresponding to at least two hundred and eight different species (Additional file 1).


Only 5 of the medicinal plants identified to species or genus (301) were exotics (2%), while other studies reported percentages of exotic plants among the local pharmacopoeias as high as 37.5% in Loja and Zamora-Chinchipe (Ecuador) [20] and 26.5% in Rama midwifery (Nicaragua) [68]. This indicates that the Asháninka in this community have a strong tradition of medicinal plants and that an eventual plant exchange between communities involves mainly local species. The families of the plants identified only to family level are all common in Peru. The forty-seven plants which were not identified were collected for the great majority in the forest and are therefore very likely to be native species, as all the plant species identified as exotics were found in the homegardens and were well known introduces species.


Medicinal plants knowledge was not restricted to the specialists, but included men, women and also children. There was a significant correlation between age of informants and knowledge of medicinal plants and during the forest walks women could identify more medicinal plants than men. However the differences in knowledge of medicinal plants were also related to personal interest and relation with a local healer. Children could list almost half of the most well-known medicinal plants in the community, but they knew them almost exclusively by their Spanish name. The specialists of the community played a special role dealing with illnesses caused by spirits that inhabited the forest and water or to diagnose the causes of diseases. The shaman and the midwife in the community received mainly non-indigenous customers, showing a progressive shift of their role towards a source of income. The medicinal plants used in this Asháninka community overlapped by 16% with the medicinal plants reported in three Yanesha communities in the Pasco Region of Peru. The two ethnic groups shared many believes and diseases. This is interesting considering that two of the Yanesha communities were located in remote areas. This fact and the fact that there was a minimum amount of exotic species in the local pharmacopoeia, suggests that despite the vicinity to a city, knowledge on medicinal plants use and traditional believes remain abundant. Moreover the medicinal plants are still available in the surrounding of the community. Documentation and quantification of their actual use could be subjects of future studies. A more accurate study focusing on medicinal plant knowledge in children with data on their family of origin could give a more clear idea of how knowledge is transmitted to the young generations and reveal if this process is threatened. It would be interesting to review the available literature on pharmaceutical properties of the medicinal plants that were most known in the community and of those that were used for similar purposes by the Yanesha. These plants might have a great potential for future drug development.


First and foremost we gratefully acknowledge the generous hospitality and assistance provided by all the inhabitants of the Asháninka Native Community of Bajo Quimiriki, in particular the last headman Lino Hereña Quinchocre without whom this work could not have been realized. A complete list of the community members who contributed sharing their knowledge on medicinal plants is given in Additional file 2.


Additional file 1: Medicinal plants from the Native Community of Bajo Quimiriki. The data provided represent the complete overview on the 402 collected medicinal plants: scientific names, collection numbers, vernacular names, habitat type, life form, use, plant parts used, preparation, route of administration and informants' number, gender and age. The data are provided in the form of a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. (PDF 280 KB)


Additional file 2: List of Asháninka informants. The list provides the names of the inhabitants of the Asháninka Native Community Bajo Quimiriki who participated in the various activities, sharing their knowledge on medicinal plants. (PDF 39 KB) 041b061a72


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