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Open Access Research

The utilization and management of plant resources in rural areas of the Limpopo Province, South Africa

Marula T Rasethe, Sebua S Semenya*, Martin J Potgieter and Alfred Maroyi

Author Affiliations

Department of Biodiversity, University of Limpopo, Private Bag X1106, Sovenga 0727, South Africa

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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2013, 9:27  doi:10.1186/1746-4269-9-27

Published: 16 April 2013



Most rural people in the Limpopo Province depend on plant resources to meet their livelihood needs. However, there is insufficient recorded information regarding their use and management. The current study therefore was carried out in selected villages of the Limpopo Province, to close this knowledge gap.


Information was collected from 60 people residing in two villages, using a semi-structured questionnaire, supplemented with field observations.


A total of 47 wild plant species (95% indigenous and 5% exotics) from 27 families, mostly from the Fabaceae (17%), Anacardiaceae (9%), and Combretaceae (9%) were documented. These species were used primarily for firewood (40%), food (36%) and medicine (29%). Significantly used species included Sclerocarya birrea (85%), Combretum kraussii (35%) and Harpephyllum caffrum (35%). Local traditional rules and regulations including taboos, social beliefs and fines are in place to aid in the management of communal resources. However, a significant number (67%) of participants mentioned that they were not pleased with these rules and regulations.


The current study concluded that plant resources still play an important role in the surveyed rural areas of the Limpopo Province. Furthermore, for sustainable utilization and long-term conservation of plants in these areas the government should assist communities in the management of their plant resources.

Conservation; Management; Plant resources; Limpopo Province; South Africa