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Traditional botanical knowledge of artisanal fishers in southern Brazil

Marcela Meneghetti Baptista1, Marcelo Alves Ramos2, Ulysses Paulino de Albuquerque3, Gabriela Coelho-de-Souza4 and Mara Rejane Ritter5*

Author Affiliations

1 Fundação Nacional do Índio, Rua Uruguai, 2648, Bairro Boqueirão, Passo Fundo, Rio Grande do Sul 99.010-112, Brazil

2 Universidade de Pernambuco, Campus Mata Norte, Departamento de Ciências Biológicas, Rua Prof. Amaro Maltês, 201, Sitio Novo, 55800-000 Nazaré da Mata, Pernambuco, Brazil

3 Departamento de Biologia, Área de Botânica, Universidade Federal Rural de Pernambuco, Laboratório de Etnobotânica Aplicada, Rua Dom Manuel de Medeiros s.n., Dois Irmãos, Recife, Pernambuco 52171-900, Brazil

4 Programa de Pós-Graduação em Desenvolvimento Rural, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Av. João Pessoa, 31, Centro, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul 90040-000, Brazil

5 Instituto de Biociências, Departamento de Botânica e Programa de Pós-Graduação em Botânica, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Av. Bento Gonçalves, 9500, Bairro Agronomia, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul 91501-970, Brazil

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Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 2013, 9:54  doi:10.1186/1746-4269-9-54

Published: 30 July 2013



This study characterized the botanical knowledge of artisanal fishers of the Lami community, Porto Alegre, southern Brazil based on answers to the following question: Is the local botanical knowledge of the artisanal fishers of the rural-urban district of Lami still active, even since the district’s insertion into the metropolitan region of Porto Alegre?


This region, which contains a mosaic of urban and rural areas, hosts the Lami Biological Reserve (LBR) and a community of 13 artisanal fisher families. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 fishers, complemented by participatory observation techniques and free-lists; in these interviews, the species of plants used by the community and their indicated uses were identified.


A total of 111 species belonging to 50 families were identified. No significant differences between the diversities of native and exotic species were found. Seven use categories were reported: medicinal (49%), human food (23.2%), fishing (12.3%), condiments (8%), firewood (5%), mystical purposes (1.45%), and animal food (0.72%). The medicinal species with the highest level of agreement regarding their main uses (AMUs) were Aloe arborescens Mill., Plectranthus barbatus Andrews, Dodonaea viscosa Jacq., Plectranthus ornatus Codd, Eugenia uniflora L., and Foeniculum vulgare Mill. For illness and diseases, most plants were used for problems with the digestive system (20 species), followed by the respiratory system (16 species). This community possesses a wide botanical knowledge, especially of medicinal plants, comparable to observations made in other studies with fishing communities in coastal areas of the Atlantic Forest of Brazil.


Ethnobotanical studies in rural-urban areas contribute to preserving local knowledge and provide information that aids in conserving the remaining ecosystems in the region.

Ethnobotany; Plant resources; Artisanal fishers; Riparian community; Rio Grande do Sul