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An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in Wonago Woreda, SNNPR, Ethiopia

Fisseha Mesfin1, Sebsebe Demissew1 and Tilahun Teklehaymanot2*

Author Affiliations

1 Biology Department, Addis Ababa University, PO Box 1176, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia

2 Aklilu Lemma Institute of Pathobiology, PO Box 56478, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia

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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2009, 5:28  doi:10.1186/1746-4269-5-28

Published: 12 October 2009

Abstract

Background

Medicinal plants are the integral part of the variety of cultures in Ethiopia and have been used over many centuries. Hence, the aim of this study is to document the medicinal plants in the natural vegetation and home gardens in Wonago Woreda, Gedeo Zone, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples Regional State (SNNPR).

Materials and methods

Thirty healers were selected to collect data on management of medicinal plants using semi-structured interview, group discussion, and field observation. The distribution of plant species in the study areas was surveyed, and preference ranking, direct matrix ranking, priority ranking of factors and Informant consensus factor (ICF) were calculated.

Results

The informants categorized the vegetation into five community types based on plant density and associated landform: 'Raqqa', 'Hakka cadanaba', 'Mancchha', 'Bullukko', and 'Wodae gido'. 155 plant species were collected from the natural vegetation and 65 plant species from the home gardens ('Gattae Oduma'). Seventy-two plant species were documented as having medicinal value: Sixty-five (71%) from natural vegetation and 27 (29%) from home gardens. Forty-five (62%) were used for humans, 15(21%) for livestock and 13(18%) for treating both human and livestock ailments: 35 (43.2%) were Shrubs, 28(34.5%) herbs, 17 (20.9%) trees and 1(1.2%) climbers. The root (35.8%) was the most commonly used plant part. The category: malaria, fever and headache had the highest 0.82 ICF. Agricultural expansion (24.4%) in the area was found to be the main threat for medicinal plants followed by fire wood collection (18.8%). Peoples' culture and spiritual beliefs somehow helped in the conservation of medicinal plants.

Conclusion

Traditional healers still depend largely on naturally growing plant species and the important medicinal plants are under threat. The documented medicinal plants can serve as a basis for further studies on the regions medicinal plants knowledge and for future phytochemical and pharmacological studies.