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Free Content Diversity and origin of medicinal exotic flora in Cape Verde Islands

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Background and aims – The Cape Verde Islands were discovered by Portuguese navigators who, throughout the 15 th century, explored the African coasts. Despite the recognised value of the Cape Verde flora, the study of medicinal plants is still incipient. The main goal of the present study was to understand the ancestral uses of the exotic medicinal flora that the population of the archipelago still uses, allowing some considerations for the geographic origin of these species.

Methods – This study is mostly based on the collection of ethnobotanical data obtained in specimens housed in LISC Herbarium and in available botanical and historical bibliographic data.

Key results – A checklist of the exotic medicinal plants of Cape Verde is presented. The use of local flora in folk medicine is common, and 101 exotic naturalized taxa were reported as medicinal in this archipelago. Most of these plants arise from Afrotropical, Neotropical, Palaearctic, or Pantropical regions. Furthermore nineteen non-naturalized exotic taxa, mainly from Neotropical and Oriental regions, were reported as medicinal.

Conclusions – This study shows the relevance of historical factors in the determining the composition of the medicinal flora in Cape Verde, namely the importance that the slave trade routes from Africa to the Americas played during the period of the 16th–19th centuries. It also allows the recognition and positive valuation of the cultural and biological Cape Verde's patrimony and its sustainable use.

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Keywords: HISTORY OF PLANT USE; MEDICINAL PLANTS; NON-INDIGENOUS FLORA; SPECIES DISTRIBUTION; TRADITIONAL MEDICINE; WEST AFRICA

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2011

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  • Plant Ecology and Evolution (a continuation of Belgian Journal of Botany, incorporating Systematics and Geography of Plants) is an international journal devoted to ecology, phylogenetics and systematics of all 'plant' groups in the traditional sense (including algae, cyanobacteria, fungi, myxomycetes), also covering related fields such as comparative and developmental morphology, conservation biology, ecophysiology, evolution, phytogeography, pollen and spores, population biology, and vegetation studies. It is published by the Royal Botanical Society of Belgium and the Botanic Garden Meise and contains original research papers, review articles, checklists, short communications and book reviews.

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