Ethnobotanical survey in Canhane village, district of Massingir, Mozambique: medicinal plants and traditional knowledge

  • Ana Ribeiro1Email author,

    Affiliated with

    • Maria M Romeiras1,

      Affiliated with

      • João Tavares1 and

        Affiliated with

        • Maria T Faria2

          Affiliated with

          Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine20106:33

          DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-6-33

          Received: 18 June 2010

          Accepted: 3 December 2010

          Published: 3 December 2010

          Abstract

          Background

          Medicinal plants are used by 80% of people from developing countries to fulfill their primary health needs, occupying a key position on plant research and medicine. Taking into account that, besides their pharmaceutical importance, these plants contribute greatly to ecosystems' stability, a continuous documentation and preservation of traditional knowledge is a priority. The objective of this study was to organize a database of medicinal plants including their applications and associated procedures in Canhane village, district of Massingir, province of Gaza, Mozambique.

          Methods

          In order to gather information about indigenous medicinal plants and to maximize the collection of local knowledge, eleven informants were selected taking into account the dimension of the site and the fact that the vegetation presents a great homogeneity. The data were collected through intensive structured and semi-structured interviews performed during field research. Taxonomical identification of plant species was based on field observations and herbarium collections.

          Results

          A total of 53 plant species have been reported, which were used to treat 50 different human health problems. More than half of the species were used for stomach and intestine related disturbances (including major diseases such as diarrhea and dysentery). Additionally, four species with therapeutic applications were reported for the first time, whose potential can further be exploited. The great majority of the identified species was also associated with beliefs and myths and/or used as food. In general, the community was conscientious and motivated about conservational issues and has adopted measures for the rational use of medicinal plants.

          Conclusions

          The ethnomedicinal use of plant species was documented in the Canhane village. The local community had a rich ethnobotanical knowledge and adopted sound management conservation practices. The data compiled in this study show the social importance of the surveyed plants being a contribution to the documentation of PGR at the national and regional level.

          Background

          In ancient times, medicinal plants have been used all over the world as unique sources of medicines and may constitute the most common human use of biodiversity [1, 2]. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of people in developing countries still depend on local medicinal plants to fulfill their primary health needs [3]. Besides that, there is a global consensus on the benefits of phytopharmacy and at present medicinal plants occupy a key position in plant research and medicine. These facts associated with the progressive loss of traditional knowledge, due to rural exodus, and with the threats to which Plant Genetic Resources (PGR) are exposed, make the efforts to study and preserve PGR relevant in every respect. In this context, several conservation studies have been performed [46].

          Like most African countries, Mozambique is an important repository of biological diversity. This diversity is used by ca. 90% of the country's population to fulfill its housing, food, energy and health needs. According to [7], in Mozambique approximately 15% of the total PGR (ca. 5,500 plant species) is used by rural communities for medical purposes and plays a key role in basic health care. Despite a long history of medicinal plants use in Mozambique, research on this subject is still incipient [810] and poorly disseminated, focusing mainly on medicinal plant markets and trade issues from Maputo province [7]. The work presented in this article reports on the utilization of medicinal plants in the Canhane village, district of Massingir, Province of Gaza. The last survey in the region dates from 1960-70 [11, 12].

          Canhane village is located 32° 09' 30" E and 24° 4' 30" S (Figure 1). With an extension of 7,200 ha, the village has a flat landscape with slopes ranging from 0 to 2% and altitudes from 95 m N to 200 m S [13]. The climate is semi-arid with two seasons: (i) dry season (April/May to October/November), with temperatures varying from 14.5°C to 28.5°C and a maximum annual precipitation of 67.9 mm; and (ii) hot and rainy season (October/November to April/May), with temperatures ranging from 19.9°C to 32.8°C and a maximum annual precipitation of 370 mm [14]. The humidity index may vary between -50 and -70, the negative values indicating the dryness of the region [15]. The soils are essentially sandy with a low to moderate percentage of organic matter (0-3%) and thus poor for agriculture.
          http://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2F1746-4269-6-33/MediaObjects/13002_2010_Article_206_Fig1_HTML.jpg
          Figure 1

          Geographical location of the study site. Left: Map of Mozambique illustrating the geographical position of the Province of Gaza and the District of Massingir. Right: Geographical position of Canhane within the District of Massingir.

          The village has 1357 inhabitants (51% women, 49% men) the great majority belonging to the Valoyi ("Witch doctor") family from the Changana ethnic group [16, 17]. The community has poor access to water resources, health services (the closest health center is located in the Massingir village, seven Km away from Canhane), trading and communications, an obsolete energy system and an unsuccessful school system. Due to the lack of a local health center, traditional medicine plays an important role in basic health care. The main activity is agriculture, followed by livestock and fisheries. Handicraft is a tertiary activity.

          The major habitat types of Canhane are woodlands, savannah and grasslands [18, 19]. Currently, the vegetation communities are at different levels of degradation mainly due to human practices (e.g. production of firewood, charcoal and grazing). The over-exploitation of resources and the limiting environmental conditions seem to be associated with the decay of the resilient capacity of the ecosystems as evidenced by the occurrence of great devastated areas [17].

          With this study, we intended to contribute to the conservation and valorization of the local floristic and cultural heritage. It should be noted that the study area is of particular importance, since it is located in the heart of the Limpopo National Park, which together with Kruger National Park (South Africa) and Gonarezhou National Park (Zimbabwe) constitute the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area (GLTP). The study reports on 53 medicinal plant species and their traditional applications.

          Methods

          Ethnobotanical data collection

          The work was initiated with a meeting between the researchers, the community leader and the Commission for Social Management from Canhane Village, in order to: i) explain the aim and importance of the work and its integration on the Community-based Development Program; ii) get cooperation and permission to use the cultural heritage; iii) collect information for structuring the interviews; iv) give orientations for the selection of informants by age and gender; and v) plan the field activities.

          Eleven informants (six men and five women) were selected as the best traditional knowledge holders. The selection criteria were based on the size of the study site, the vegetation homogeneity and on the indications provided by the community.

          Due to reasons related to beliefs and myths, it was not possible to get the information directly from Witch doctors. However, it should be highlighted that most of the Canhane inhabitants belong to the Valoyi ("Witch doctor") family. Using standard methods [20, 21], the data was collected through intensive structured interviews and complemented with semi-structured interviews in local language (i.e. Changana). These included: common and local name of the plant, applications, parts of the plant used, methods of preparation and administration routes. Translation to Portuguese was validated by linguistic specialists.

          Taxonomic identification

          The medicinal plants reported by the informants were collected during three field surveys (in October of 2007 and in March and November of 2008). The team was accompanied by two local guides with a deep knowledge of local flora. Species identification was done during the field visits and by comparing voucher specimens with specimens deposited at the Herbarium of the Faculty of Sciences, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane (LMU, Maputo, Mozambique). The scientific names were confirmed through specialized bibliography [2225] as well as the African Plant Database [26], Tropicos database [27] and the International Plant Names Index [28]. Additional information was gathered from the study of numerous herbarium specimens, mainly from the Tropical Research Institute Herbarium (LISC, Lisbon, Portugal).

          Results and Discussion

          Medicinal Plants' Survey

          A total of 53 plant species distributed over 47 genera and 31 families were reported by the 11 informants (Table 1). All the reported species grew naturally in the area, reflecting the social importance of the local floristic resources. Most of the identified plants were shrubs or trees (15 spp. or 28.3%), herbs and trees (11 spp. for each category or 20.8%), and shrubs (nine species or 17.0%). The best represented families were Fabaceae (six species), Euphorbiaceae (four species) and Tiliaceae (three species). Altogether the 53 species were used to treat 50 different human health problems (Table 1), the great majority of which (75.5%) having more than one medical application. The most cited species were Euclea racemosa (ca. 82%), Colophospermum mopane, Cucumis sp. and Elephantorrhiza elephantina (ca. 73% each species), Cassia abbreviata and Cissus quadrangularis (ca. 64% each species), Aloe marlothii, Maerua edulis, Secamone parvifolia and Terminalia sericea (ca. 55% each species) and Boscia albitrunca, Gossypium herbaceum and Gymnosporia heterophylla (ca. 46% each species) (data not shown). The number of medicinal plants and their potential applications reflect the rich ethnomedicinal knowledge in the Canhane community. Similar potentialities were found in other African countries like Cameroon [29] and Ethiopia [3032] as well as in non-African countries [3335]. Certainly, there is a lot more knowledge to exploit on the topic in Mozambique.
          Table 1

          Medicinal plants (53 spp.) used in the Canhane village (2007- 2008)

          Scientific name*

          Local and Common name

          Habit

          Part used

          Main Diseases

          Administration Route

          Method of preparation

          Acanthaceae

                

          Blepharis diversispina (Nees) C.B. Clarke

          Nchachacha wa mananga

          Velvet bushwillow

          Sub-shrub or Herb

          Fruits

          Hemorrhoids

          Topic

          Burning and grinding

              

          Cough

          Oral

          Grinding and maceration

             

          Roots

          Hemorrhoids

          Topic

          Burning and grinding

             

          Seeds

          Wounds

          Topic

          Burning and grinding

              

          Fontanel hardening

          Topic

          Burning and grinding

          Aloaceae

                

          Aloe marlothii A. Berger

          Mhanga

          Flat-flowered aloe, Mountain aloe

          Herb

          Leaves (sap)

          Biliary disorder; Malaria

          Oral

          Direct

              

          Wounds

          Topic

          Direct

             

          Roots; Leaves

          Toothache

          Oral

          Direct; Decoction

              

          Liver disorder

          Oral

          Decoction

          Aloe zebrina Baker

          Ximhangani

          Small maculate aloe

          Herb

          Leaves (sap)

          Eye treatments

          Eyewash

          Direct; Maceration

              

          Wounds

          Topic

          Direct

             

          Roots

          Liver disorder

          Oral

          Decoction

          Amaryllidaceae

                

          Crinum stuhlmannii Baker

          Khonwua

          Candy-striped crinum

          Herb

          Stem

          Swellings

          Topic

          Decoction

          Anacardiaceae

                

          Lannea schweinfurthii (Engl.) Engl.

          Xivombo nkanyi, xihumbunkany, munganikomo

          False marula

          Tree

          Bark

          Anemia; Diarrhea; Stomach disorders

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Stem

          Malaria

          Oral

          Decoction

          Sclerocarya birrea (A. Rich.) Hochst.

          Nkanyi

          Marula

          Tree

          Bark

          Anemia

          Oral

          Infusion

              

          Diarrhea; Stomach disorders

          Oral

          Scraping and decoction

              

          Hemorrhoids

          Topic

          Decoction and vapors; Scraping

             

          Stem

          Anemia

          Oral

          Maceration

          Apocynaceae

                

          Sarcostemma viminale (L.) R. Br.

          Neta, netha

          Caustic vine

          Herb (succulent)

          Root

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Sap

          Eye treatments

          Eyewash

          Direct

          Secamone parvifolia (Oliv.) Bullock

          Nyokani, nyoka ya yitsongo

          Milimili

          Shrub

          Roots

          Deworming; Rheumatism

          Oral

          Decoction

              

          Epilepsy

          Oral

          Decoction; Heating; Grinding and water

              

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Crushing and water; Decoction

             

          Stem; Roots

          Varicose veins

          Topic

          Decoction

          Asparagaceae

                

          Asparagus africanus Lam.

          Kwangwa la tilo

          Bush asparagus

          Shrub

          Roots

          Stomach disorders

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Whole plant

          Stomach disorders

          Oral

          Grinding and maceration

          Balanitaceae

                

          Balanites maughamii Sprague

          Nulu, nulo

          Green thorn, Y-thorned

          Tree

          Roots

          Malaria

          Oral

          Scraping and infusion

          Bombacaceae

                

          Adansonia digitata L.

          Ximuwa, ximuhu, ximuvo

          Baobab

          Tree

          Bark

          Debility

          Bath

          Maceration

             

          Roots

          Diarrhea

          Oral

          Maceration

          Capparaceae

                

          Boscia albitrunca (Burch.) Gilg & Gilg-Ben.

          Nxunkutso, xikutse, xikutso, xikutsu, xukutsi

          Shepherd's tree

          Shrub or tree

          Leaves

          Diarrhea; Hemorrhoids

          Topic

          Crushing and infusion

          Boscia foetida Schinz subsp. filipes (Gilg) Lötter

          Xicutso

          Bushveld shepherds tree, sandveld shepherds, tree smelly shepherds tree

          Shrub

          Roots

          Stomach and kidney purification

          Oral

          Infusion

          Maerua edulis (Gilg & Gilg-Ben. ) De Wolf

          Xikolwa, xikolwe

          Blue-leaved bush cherry

          Suffrutex or Shrub

          Roots

          Women fertility,

          Oral

          Decoction; Infusion

              

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Decoction

          Maerua parvifolia Pax

          Nongonoko

          Dwarf bush-cherry, small-leaved maerua

          Shrub

          Roots

          Diarrhea; Stomach ache and purification

          Oral

          Decoction

          Celastraceae

                

          Loeseneriella crenata (Klotzsch) Wilczek ex N.Hallé

          Lorho, nhlohlo

          Valley paddle-pod

          Climbing shrub

          Roots

          Epilepsy; Stomach ache

          Oral

          Decoction

              

          Malnutrition

          Oral; Vaccine

          Burning and decoction; Grinding; Scraping and burning

             

          Stem

          Antialergic

          Necklace

          Direct

          Gymnosporia heterophylla (Eckl. & Zeyh.) Loes.

          Xivambulani, xichangwa, libatzondze

          Angular-stemmed spikethorn, common spikethorn

          Shrub or Small tree

          Leaves

          Swellings

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Roots

          Internal clots

          Oral

          Decoction

              

          Stabbing heart

          Oral; Topic

          Burning and grinding; Decoction; Scraping

          Combretaceae

                

          Combretum imberbe Wawra

          Mondzo

          Leadwood

          Shrub or tree

          Bark

          Toothache

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          NA

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Burning and watering

          Terminalia sericea Burch. ex DC.

          Nsunsu, nkonola, kondla, mogonono

          Silver cluster-leaf, silver terminalia

          Tree

          Branches (bark)

          Burns; Wounds

          Topic

          Drying and grinding

             

          Leaves

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Roots

          Diarrhea

          Oral

          Decoction

              

          Burns; Wounds

          Topic

          Drying and grinding; Scraping

          Cucurbitaceae

                

          Cucumis metuliferus E.Mey. ex Naudin

          Dema

          Herb

          Roots

          Appendicitis; Stomach ache

          Oral

          Decoction

          Cucumis zeyheri Sond.

          Xiyakayani, xihakahani, chihacaiane

          Wild cucumber

          Herb

          Fruits

          Stomach disorders

          Oral

          Drying and grinding

              

          Laxative

          Enema

          Decanting and filtration; Grinding; Maceration

             

          Leaves

          Dysentery; Laxative

          Oral

          Decoction; Maceration

          Dracaenaceae

                

          Sansevieria hyacinthoides (L.) Druce

          Xikwenga xa kwhati

          Mother-in-law tongue

          Herb

          Leaves

          Contusions; Hemorrhoids; Rheumatism; Swellings;

          Topic

          Decoction and vapors; Heating

             

          Roots

          Women fertility

          Oral

          Crushing and water

              

          Epilepsy

          Oral

          Decoction

          Ebenaceae

                

          Euclea racemosa Murr.

          Mulala, nhlangulo

          Bush guarri, glossy guarri river guarri

          Shrub

          Roots

          Caries; Toothache

          Oral

          Direct (chewing)

              

          Wounds

          Topic

          Peeling and grinding

             

          Stem

          Wounds

          Bath

          Cutting and water

          Euphorbiaceae

                

          Acalypha indica L.

          Ntlambissana

          Copperleaf, indian nettle

          Herb

          Leaves

          Hemorrhoids

          Oral; Topic

          Crushing; Decoction

              

          Intestinal lavage

          Enema

          Grinding and decoction; Maceration

              

          Laxative

          Oral; Topic

          Crushing; Infusion

             

          Roots

          Laxative

          Oral

          Decoction; Infusion

             

          Stem

          Hemorrhoids

          Oral

          Decoction

          Androstachys johnsonii Prain

          Cimbiri

          Lebombo-ironwood, simbi tree

          Tree

          NA

          NA

          NA

          Kept in secret by Hitch doctors

          Flueggea virosa (Roxb. ex Willd.) Voigt

          Nsangasi, sangasi

          Snowberry tree, whiteberry bush

          Shrub

          Branches

          Abcesses

          Topic

          Heating (with castor oil on top)

          Spirostachys africana Sond.

          Xilangamahlo, dzanvori

          African Sandal, tamboti

          Tree

          Bark

          Debility (HIV-AIDS)

          Oral

          Decoction (in milk)

             

          Sap

          Ear and eye treatments

          Topic

          Direct

             

          Stem

          Burns, Wounds

          Topic

          Burning; Grinding; Scraping

          Fabaceae

                

          Cassia abbreviata Oliv.

          Lumanyama

          Longtail cassia, sjambok pod

          Tree

          Fruits

          Eye treatments

          Eyewash

          Heating and grinding

             

          Leaves, roots and stems (mix)

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Infusion

             

          Roots (bark)

          Diarrhea

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Stem

          Malaria; Stomach ache

          Oral

          Decoction

          Colophospermum mopane (Benth.) Léonard

          Gungwa, nxanati, nxanatsi, mesanya

          Mopane

          Shrub or Tree

          Bark

          Bleeding; Dysentery; Stomach ache

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Leaves

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Crushing; Direct (chewing); Infusion

              

          Dysentery

          Oral

          Grinding and water

             

          Roots

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Stem; Stem and leaves (mix)

          Stomach ache; Diarrhea

          Oral

          Decoction; Infusion

          Dalbergia melanoxylon Guill. & Perr.

          Xipaladze, xiphalanzi

          African blackwood

          Shrub or Tree

          Roots

          Toothache

          Oral

          Decoction

          Dichrostachys cinerea (L.) Wight & Arn

          Ndzenga, ntsenga, ndzhenga

          Small-leaved sickle bush

          Shrub or Small tree

          Roots

          Skeletal disorders

          Topic; Vaccine

          Burning and grinding; Scraping

             

          Roots (sap)

          Laxative

          Oral

          Direct

          Elephantorrhiza elephantina (Burch.) Skeels

          Xivurayi

          Dwarf elephant's root

          Shrub or Sub-shrub

          Roots

          Anemia

          Oral

          Cutting and maceration; Decoction and grinding

              

          Pain killer, Fever

          Oral

          Decoction

          Guibourtia conjugata (Bolle) J. Léonard

          Ntsotso

          Small copalwood, small false mopane

          Tree

          Leaves

          Stomach disorders

          Oral

          Crushing and water

             

          Roots

          Intense cough

          Oral

          Decoction

          Malvaceae

                

          Gossypium herbaceum L.

          Thonji ra khwati, thondji la khwati, nuba

          Wild cotton

          Sub-shrub

          Fruits

          Ear treatment

          Topic

          Direct

             

          Roots

          Vomits control

          Oral

          Decoction

              

          Tonic

          Oral

          Decoction

          Hibiscus meyeri Harv.

          Muxaxayevu, kongowa, kloklonya, muchachanyevo

          Dainty white wild hibiscus, lebombo hibiscus

          Herb

          Roots

          Tonic, Stabbing heart

          Oral

          Decoction

          Meliaceae

                

          Trichilia emetica Vahl subsp. emetica

          Nkuhlu

          Natal-mahogany

          Tree

          Branches (sap)

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Direct (chewing)

             

          Roots

          Contraceptive

          Oral

          Infusion

          Menispermaceae

                

          Tinospora caffra (Miers) Troupin

          Nyokani ya yikulo, nyoka ya yikulu

          Orange grape creeper

          Creeper

          Leaves

          Paralysis and Children diseases

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Roots

          Epilepsy; Pain killer;; Paralysis and Children diseases; Stomach ache

          Oral

          Decoction; Infusion

             

          Stem

          Epilepsy

          Oral

          Decoction

          Moraceae

                

          Ficus sycomorus L.

          Nkuwa

          Common cluster fig, sycamore fig

          Tree

          Sap

          Ringworm

          Topic

          Direct

          Olacaceae

                

          Olax dissitiflora Oliv.

          Nkondzomhuntana, ximanimurhi, nondzomuntana

          Small sourplum, small-fruit olax

          Shrub or Tree

          Leaves

          Wounds

          Topic

          Grinding

          Ximenia americana L.

          Ntsengele, matsengele, tsingela

          Blue sourplum, small sourplum

          Shrub or Tree

          Roots

          Antiabortifacients, HIV-AIDS, Menstrual cycle, Stabbing heart, Stomach ache, Women fertility,

          Oral

          Decoction

              

          Wounds

          Topic

          Drying and grinding

          Orchidaceae

                

          Ansellia africana Lindl.

          Phakama

          Leopard orchid, monkey sugarcane, mopane orchid, tree orchid

          Herb (Epiphyte)

          Fruits

          Cough, Rheumatism

          Necklace, Bath

          Direct; Heating and grinding

             

          Fruits and stem (mix)

          Cough

          Oral

          Decoction

          Poaceae

                

          Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.

          Rintlhangi, nulangi-rithangi

          Bermuda grass

          Herb

          Leaves

          Antiabortifacients

          Oral

          Grinding and water

          Ptaeroxylaceae

                

          Ptaeroxylon obliquum Radlk.

          Ndzharhi

          Sneezewood

          Shrub or Tree

          Sap

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Direct

          Rubiaceae

                

          Gardenia volkensii K. Schum.

          Xitsalala

          Bushveld, savanna or woodland gardenia, transvaal gardenia

          Shrub or Tree

          Leaves

          Stomach ache

          Oral

          Grinding and water

          Rutaceae

                

          Zanthoxylum humile (E.A. Bruce) P. G. Waterman

          Manungwani, manongwane, manungwame

          Hairy knobwood

          Shrub

          Roots

          Mouth anesthetic; Toothache

          Oral; Topic

          Decoction; Peeling, grinding, drying. and grinding

              

          Wounds and Burns

          Topic

          Peeling, grinding, drying. and grinding

             

          Stem

          Pain killer

          Vaccine

          Burning

          Sapotaceae

                

          Manilkara mochisia (Baker) Dubard

          N'whamba, wambo, n'wambu

          Lowveld milkberry

          Shrub or tree

          Roots

          Toothache

          Oral; Topic

          Decoction; Maceration and scrapping

              

          Ear treatments

          Topic

          Direct

          Strychnaceae

                

          Strychnos madagascariensis Spreng. ex Baker

          Nkwankwa

          Black monkey-orange, hairy-leaved monkey-orange

          Shrub or Tree

          Roots

          Fever

          Oral

          Peeling and decoction

          Sterculiaceae

                

          Hermannia micropetala Harv. & Sond.

          Sindzambita, xisindzambita

          Cactus wine, wild grape

          Shrub or Sub-shrub

          Fruits

          Laxative

          Topic

          Juice

             

          Leaves

          Laxative

          Topic

          Juice

             

          Roots

          Fontanel hardening

          Topic

          Burning and oil

          Tiliaceae

                

          Grewia flavescens Juss. var. flavescens

          Nsihana, nsiphane, dzuwa wa mananga

          Donkeyberry, Sandpaper raisin, Rough-leaved raisin

          Climbing shrub

          Leaves

          Stomach disorders

          NA

          NA

          Grewia hexamita Burret

          Nsihana, nsihani, nsihane, nsiphane

          Giant grewia, Giant raisin

          Shrub or Tree

          Roots

          Menstrual cycle, Women Fertility

          Oral

          Infusion

             

          Sap

          Post-delivery cleaning

          Oral

          Direct

          Grewia monticola Sond.

          Nsihana, nsihani, nsiphane

          Grey grewia, Grey raisin, Silver raisin

          Shrub or Tree

          Fruits

          Ear treatments

          Topic

          Heating and grinding

             

          Fruits; Seeds

          Wounds

          Topic

          Heating and grinding

             

          Roots

          Diarrhea

          Oral

          Decoction

             

          Stem

          Swellings

          Topic

          Heating

          Vitaceae

                

          Cissus cornifolia (Bak.) Planch.

          Mphesani, mphensana

          Ivy-grape

          Shrub or Tree

          Roots

          Burns; Wounds

          Topic

          Crushing

          Cissus quadrangularis L.

          Covoloti, Covoluti

          Cactus vine, wild grape

          Creeper (succulent)

          Roots

          Ear treatments

          Topic

          Warming and squeezing

             

          Sap

          Ear treatments; Wounds

          Topic

          Direct

             

          Seeds

          Antidote; Wounds

          Topic

          Grinding

             

          Stem

          Sprains; Swellings

          Topic

          Heating

              

          Cough

          Oral

          Cutting and decoction

              

          Antidote; Wounds

          Topic

          Crushing and water

          Family, scientific, local and common names, growth habit, parts used, main diseases, administration route and method of preparation.

          *Scientific names are according to [2228]

          NA = Not Available

          More than half of the reported species (54.7%) were used for stomach and intestine related disturbances (Table 2). Of these, almost 38% were used to treat diarrhea and dysentery, a major concern in the region. In fact, in Mozambique diarrhea has for a long time been associated with a complex array of illnesses. Amongst them, dysentery and cholera usually have a high mortality rate if not treated promptly [10]. The use of traditional medicinal plants seems to play a major role in controlling diarrhea-associated diseases.
          Table 2

          Distribution by category of disease

          Analgesic, anti-inflammatory and antipyretic

          Adansonia digitata, Cissus quadrangularis, Crinum stuhlmannii, Dichrostachys cinerea, Elephantorrhiza elephantina, Grewia monticola, Gymnosporia heterophylla, Sansevieria hyacinthoides, Strychnos madagascariensis, Tinospora caffra, Zanthoxylum humile

          Anemia

          Elephantorrhiza elephantina, Lannea schweinfurthii, Sclerocarya birrea

          Antialergic

          Loeseneriella crenata

          Antidote

          Cissus quadrangularis

          Appendicitis

          Cucumis metuliflerus

          Bleeding

          Colophospermum mopane

          Burns

          Cissus cornifolia, Spirostachys africana, Terminalia sericea, Zanthoxylum humile

          Cough

          Ansellia africana, Blepharis diversispina, Cissus quadrangularis, Guibourtia conjugata

          Debility and malnutrition

          Gossypium herbaceum, Hibiscus meyeri, Loeseneriella crenata, Spirostachys africana

          Dentistry

          Aloe marlothii, Boscia albitrunca, Combretum imberbe, Dalbergia melanoxylon, Euclea racemosa, Flueggea virosa, Manilkara mochisia, Zanthoxylum humile

          Deworming

          Secamone parvifolia

          Ear diseases

          Cissus quadrangularis, Gossypium herbaceum, Grewia monticola, Manilkara mochisia, Spirostachys africana

          Epilepsy

          Loeseneriella crenata, Sansevieria hyacinthoides, Secamone parvifolia, Tinospora caffra

          Eye diseases

          Aloe zebrina, Cassia abbreviata, Sarcostemma viminale, Spirostachys africana

          Ginecology

          Cynodon dactylon, Grewia hexamita, Maerua edulis, Sansevieria hyacinthoides, Trichilia emetica, Ximenia americana

          Heart

          Gymnosporia heterophylla, Hibiscus meyeri, Ximenia americana

          Hemorrhoids

          Acalypha indica, Blepharis diversispina, Boscia albitrunca, Sansevieria hyacinthoides, Sclerocarya birrea

          HIV-SIDA

          Ximenia americana

          Internal clots

          Gymnosporia heterophylla

          Kidney disorders

          Boscia foetida

          Liver disorders

          Aloe marlothii, Aloe zebrina

          Malaria

          Aloe marlothii, Balanites maughamii, Cassia abbreviata, Lannea schweinfurthii

          Non-identified diseases

          Androstachys johnsonii

          Paralysis and other children diseases

          Tinospora caffra

          Ringworm

          Ficus sycomorus

          Skeletal structure

          Dichrostachys cinerea

          Stomach and intestine disorders

          Acalypha indica, Adansonia digitata, Asparagus africanus, Boscia albitrunca, Boscia foetida, Cassia abbreviata, Colophospermum mopane, Combretum imberbe, Cucumis metuliflerus, Cucumis zeyheri, Dichrostachys cinerea, Hermannia micropetala, Gardenia volkensii, Grewia flavescens, Grewia monticola, Guibourtia conjugata, Gossypium herbaceum, Lannea schweinfurthii, Loeseneriella crenata, Maerua edulis, Maerua parvifolia, Ptaeroxylon obliquum, Sarcostemma viminale, Secamone parvifolia, Sclerocarya birrea, Terminalia sericea, Tinospora caffra, Trichilia emetica, Ximenia americana

          Varicose veins

          Secamone parvifolia

          Wounds

          Aloe marlothii, Aloe zebrina, Blepharis diversispina, Cissus cornifolia, Cissus quadrangularis, Euclea racemosa, Grewia monticola, Olax dissitiflora, Spirostachys africana, Terminalia sericea, Ximenia americana, Zanthoxylum humile

          Distribution of the 53 medicinal plant species within different disease categories (Canhane, 2007-2008).

          Around 23% of the surveyd species were used as analgesic, anti-inflammatory or anti-pyretic and for wound treatment, 15% for dentistry and 11% for gynecology-related problems. Approximately 9% of the reported species were used to treat ear diseases and hemorrhoids, 8% for burns, cough, debility and malnutrition, epilepsy, eye diseases and malaria, and 6% for heart problems. Only one species, Ximenia americana (ca. 2%) was used against HIV-AIDS. Thus, looking at the three major national health concerns, namely diarrhea and dysentery, malaria and HIV-AIDS a considerable number of potentialities are available for the first group (11 species), while moderate (four species) and low (one species) alternatives can be exploited for malaria and HIV-AIDS. In fact, several pharmacological studies of these three groups of human ailments are available for most of the species reported in the present survey [3642].

          With the exception of six species (Blepharis diversispina, Grewia flavescens, Guibourtia conjugata, Hermannia micropetala, Loeseneriella crenata, Zanthoxylum humile), all species under study have been reported as medicinal plants in other African countries [11, 4346]. While the use of G. flavescens and Z. humile by traditional healers has been reported in India and Mozambique, respectively [7, 47], as far as our literature review goes, four species (i.e. B. diversispina, G. conjugata, H. micropetala, and L. crenata) were reported here for the first time. Of these, only two genera have been associated with ethonomedicine: the genus Blepharis [48] and the genus Loeseneriella (L. obtusifolia). Thus, these species constitute new potential sources of natural medicines.

          From the 53 species, nine were reported previously by [10] and 3 by [7] in studies conducted in the province of Maputo. Besides that, several other species belonging to 11 genera (Aloe, Asparagus, Boscia, Cissus, Crinum, Cucumis, Ficus, Grewia, Maerua, Secamone, Strychnos) were also reported as medicinal species [7]. The potential medicinal plant markets from the southern provinces of Maputo and Gaza seem to be different. This may reflect the rich ethonomedicinal potential which exists in the entire country.

          A comparative analysis with local specific ethnobotanical literature [11, 12, 46] and complementary information gathered from the LISC Herbarium plant collections, identified 25 different plant species used for medicinal purposes (Table 3) of which only two, Combretum imberbe and Lannea schweinfurthii, are common to those reported in this study. Regarding their applications, similarities were found for C. imberbe (stomach disorders) and L. schweinfurthii (diarrhea and stomach disorders). According to the available data, C. imberbe was also used to treat schistosomiasis and L. schweinfurthii to treat tuberculosis, while in our survey they were additionally indicated for the treatment of toothache (C. imberbe), anemia and malaria (L. schweinfurthii). Because the older surveys did not specifically target medicinal plants, we believe that our data are more accurate in what concerns the applications of these two species. This fact may also explain why the great majority of the species reported 40 years ago (23 out of 25 or 92%) does not overlap with those identified in this survey. However, the possibility of loss of genetic resources and/or traditional knowledge should also be considered.
          Table 3

          List of medicinal plants (25 spp.) surveyed in the district of Massingir in 1960-70.

          Scientific name*

          Local name

          Diseases- Gaza district

          Alismataceae

            

          Limnophyton obtusifolium (L.) Miq.

          NA

          Ear diseases

          Amaranthaceae

            

          Chenopodium ambrosioides L.

          Kanunka uncono

          Intestinal ulcers; Stomach-aches

          Hermbstaedtia odorata (Burch.) T. Cooke

          Chomeli

          Diuretics; Stomach wash

          Anacardiaceae

            

          Lannea schweinfurthii (Engl.) Engl.

          chiumbocanhe, chebombocanho, munganicomo

          Abdominal pain; Choleric diarrhea; Cough; Tuberculosis

          Ozoroa obovata (Oliv.) R.Fern. & A. Fern.

          xinungu, chimungumango, chinungo, chinungumafe, chinungumafi

          Diarrhea; Laxative; Pain

          Sclerocarya birrea Sond.

          canhi (tree and fruit), tsula (tree), ditsula (fruit)

          Diarrhea; dysentery

          Apocynaceae

            

          Adenium multiflorum Klotzsch

          chimua

          Male sterility; Sexual performance

          Pergularia daemia (Forssk.) Chiov.

          furana

          Antiemetic; Cough

          Araceae

            

          Stylochiton natalensis Schott

          NA

          Ear diseases; Respiratory diseases; Tranquilizing

          Asteraceae

            

          Ageratum conyzoides L.

          NA

          Abdominal disorders; Laxative

          Burseraceae

            

          Commiphora africana (A. Rich.) Engl.

          NA

          Abdominal disorders; Asthma; Head ache; Stomach ache

          Capparaceae

            

          Boscia mossambicensis Klotzsch

          Chimapamapane, chicutlu

          Eye disinfectant

          Cadaba natalensis Sond.

          tssatssassana, mejacocone

          Tuberculosis

          Capparis tomentosa Lam.

          caua, cahu

          Respiratory diseases; Tuberculosis

          Cladostemon kirkii (Oliv.) Pax & Gilg

          tumangoma, mahuco, maúco, buguane, tambocolata

          Abdominal disorders; Colds; Sexual performance; Venereal diseases

          Thilachium africanum Lour.

          compfa, compha

          Asthma; Diarrhoea; Edema; General pain; Vomiting

          Celastraceae

            

          Elaeodendron schlechteranum (Loes.) Loes.

          chigugutzo; chigugusse

          Aphrodisiac; Deworming.

          Maytenus senegalensis (Lam.) Exell

          Chixangua, Chichangua; chilhangua

          Bilharziosis; Bronchitis and tuberculosis; Convulsions; Diarrhoea and dysentery; Male and female sterility

          Combretaceae

            

          Combretum apiculatum Sond.

          Chivonzôane, samabulile

          Abdominal pain; Conjunctivitis

          Combretum imberbe Wawra

          Monzou; mondzo

          Bilharziosis; Stomach-aches

          Combretum microphyllum Klotzsch

          Funté, mumbambanguene pfunte

          Abdominal pain; Bilharziosis; Diarrhoea; Female sterility

          Combretum molle R.Br ex G. Don

          Chicucudze, xicucutce

          Antiabortifacients, Dysentery

          Combretum mossambicense (Klotzsch) Engl.

          Futé, funté, fute

          Diarrhoea; Laxative

          Combretum zeyheri Sond.

          NA

          Eye cleaning

          Pteleopsis myrtifolia (M.A. Lawson) Engl. & Diels

          Ludzane

          Fever; Madness Male and female sterility

          NA = Not Available

          The table provides the family, scientific and local names, habit and diseases of 25 spp. surveyed in the district of Massingir mainly during the 60-70 s. *[11, 12, 43]

          The great majority of the identified species (46 spp. or 86.8%) were also used for other purposes than medicine (Table 4; Figure 2). The major groups of applications were associated with beliefs and myths (26 spp. or ca. 49%) or used as food (24 spp. or ca. 45%). Wood production, handicraft and veterinary were the third major class of application, with 10 (ca. 19%), 9 (ca. 17%) and 8 (ca. 15%) species, respectively. This reinforces the socio-economic importance of the reported species, placing them in a privileged position for conservational aspects and income-generating purposes.
          Table 4

          Other applications of the surveyed plant species from Canhane village (2007- 2008).

          Scientific name

          Other Applications

          Acanthaceae

           

          Blepharis diversispina (Nees) C.B. Clarke

          Beliefs and myths

          Aloaceae

           

          Aloe marlothii A. Berger

          Beliefs and myths; Food (nectar); Veterinary (cattle diseases)

          Aloe zebrina Baker

          Food (leaves); Veterinary (cattle, chicken and lamb's diseases)

          Anacardiaceae

           

          Lannea schweinfurthii (Engl.) Engl.

          Beliefs and myths; Food (fruits); Handicraft, Ornamental

          Sclerocarya birrea Hochst.

          Beliefs and myths; Food (fruits); Handicraft; Ornamental; Wood

          Apocynaceae

           

          Sarcostemma viminale (L.) R.Br.

          Food (fruits); Forage

          Asparagaceae

           

          Asparagus africanus Lam.

          Beliefs and myths

          Balanitaceae

           

          Balanites maughamii Sprague

          Beliefs and myths; Forage; Ornamental; Wood

          Bombacaceae

           

          Adansonia digitata L.

          Food (fruits); Paper

          Capparaceae

           

          Boscia albitrunca (Burch.) Gilg & Gilg-Ben.

          Food (fruits); Firewood; Handicraft; Wood

          Maerua edulis (Gilg & Gilg-Ben.) DeWolf

          Food (Fruits)

          Maerua parvifolia Pax

          Beliefs and myths; Fishery; Food (Fruits)

          Celastraceae

           

          Loeseneriella crenata (Klotzsch) Wilczek ex N. Hallé

          Beliefs and myths; Carts and animal traction; Textile

          Combretaceae

           

          Combretum imberbe Wawra

          Charcoal; Firewood; Kitchen handicraft; Wood

          Terminalia sericea Burch. ex DC.

          Beliefs and myths; Fiber; Firewood; Handicraft; Ornamental; Wood

          Cucurbitaceae

           

          Cucumis zeyheri Sond.

          Beliefs and myths; Food (leaves); Veterinary (Cattle and lambs wounds)

          Cucumis metuliferus E.Mey. ex Naudin

          Veterinary (Goat diseases, Newcastle disease)

          Dracaenaceae

           

          Sansevieria hyacinthoides (L.) Druce

          Beliefs and myths; Textile

          Ebenaceae

           

          Euclea racemosa Murr.

          Cosmetics; Food (fruits)

          Euphorbiaceae

           

          Androstachys johnsonii Prain

          Wood

          Flueggea virosa (Roxb. ex Willd.) Voigt

          Beliefs and myths; Food (fruits)

          Spirostachys africana Sond.

          Veterinary (cattle eye diseases); Wood

          Fabaceae

           

          Cassia abbreviata Oliv.

          Beliefs and myths; Ornamental; Wood

          Colophospermum mopane (Benth.) Léonard

          Charcoal; Firewood; Handicraft; Wood

          Dalbergia melanoxylon Guill. & Perr

          Handicraft; Musical instruments

          Dichrostachys cinerea (L.) Wight & Arn

          Beliefs and myths; Farm fencing; Forage

          Elephantorrhiza elephantina (Burch.) Skeels

          Beliefs and myths

          Guibourtia conjugata (Bolle) J.Léonard

          Beliefs and myths; Firewood; Glue; Handicraft; Ornamental

          Malvaceae

           

          Gossypium herbaceum L.

          Food (Leaves); Textile

          Hibiscus meyeri Harv.

          Aphrodisiac; Broom

          Meliaceae

           

          Trichilia emetica Vahl subsp. emetica

          Cosmetics; Food (fruits, seeds)

          Moraceae

           

          Ficus sycomorus L.

          Beliefs and myths; Food (fruits); Forage

          Olacaceae

           

          Olax dissitiflora Oliv.

          Beliefs and myths; Food (fruits); Forage; Wood

          Ximenia americana L.

          Beliefs and myths; Cosmetics; Farm fencing; Food (fruits, seeds); Veterinary (cattle wounds)

          Orchidaceae

           

          Ansellia africana Lindl.

          Beliefs and myths

          Poaceae

           

          Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.

          Forage

          Rubiaceae

           

          Gardenia volkensii K. Schum.

          Beliefs and myths; Food (fruits); Textile

          Rutaceae

           

          Zanthoxylum humile (E.A. Bruce) P.G. Waterman

          Beliefs and myths; Snake repellent

          Sapotaceae

           

          Manilkara mochisia (Baker) Dubard

          Food (fruits)

          Strychnaceae

           

          Strychnos madagascariensis Spreng. ex Baker

          Beliefs and myths; Food (fruits); Handicrafts; Musical instruments

          Sterculiaceae

           

          Hermannia micropetala Harv. & Sond.

          Beliefs and myths

          Tiliaceae

           

          Grewia flavescens Juss. var. flavescens

          Beliefs and myths; Food (fruits)

          Grewia hexamita Burret

          Food (fruits); Handicraft

          Grewia monticola Sond.

          Food (fruits); Ornamental; Veterinary (relieves cow's pain during calf-birth)

          Vitaceae

           

          Cissus cornifolia (Bak.) Planch.

          Food (fruits); Repellent; Veterinary (cattle wounds)

          Cissus quadrangularis L.

          Beliefs and myths; Repellent; Veterinary (cattle Newcastle disease, wounds)

          The table presents a list of 46 spp. which, besides their medicinal use, are used for non-medical purposes (e.g. applications related to beliefs and myths, food, handicraft, animal diseases, ornamental).

          http://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2F1746-4269-6-33/MediaObjects/13002_2010_Article_206_Fig2_HTML.jpg
          Figure 2

          Non-medical applications. Non-medical applications of the 53 medicinal plant species (Canhane, 2007- 2008).

          Plant parts used, methods of preparation and administration routes

          Several plant parts were used (Table 1), the most frequent being roots (38.8%), followed by leaves (17.5%), stems (13.6%), fruits (8.8%), bark (5.8%), sap (5.8%), combinations of plant organs (3.9%), branches (2.9%) and seeds (2.9%). Regarding the methods of preparation (Figure 3), in many cases (38%) a combination of methods was used. The most common method was decoction (25%), followed by direct consumption (10%), infusion (6%), crushing (5%), grinding (5%), maceration (4%), scraping (2%), heating (2%), burning (1%), cutting (1%) and juice (1%). Fifty nine percent of the medicines were administered orally, 31% topically and only 10% through vaccine, bath, enema, eyewash and necklace (ca. 2% for each mode) (Figure 4). In general, the results seem to follow the pattern of medicinal plant uses in Africa [26, 28, 49] except that in Canhane, instead of leaves, roots occupy the top position which is concordant with the results from [7]. Consistent with the findings of [28, 49] in Kenya and Ethiopia respectively, is the lack of standardized dosage and quality control.
          http://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2F1746-4269-6-33/MediaObjects/13002_2010_Article_206_Fig3_HTML.jpg
          Figure 3

          Methods of preparation. Methods of the 53 medicinal plant species (Canhane, 2007-2008).

          http://static-content.springer.com/image/art%3A10.1186%2F1746-4269-6-33/MediaObjects/13002_2010_Article_206_Fig4_HTML.jpg
          Figure 4

          Administration routes. Administration routes of the 53 medicinal plant species (Canhane, 2007-2008).

          Conservational aspects

          In general, the community was conscientious and motivated regarding conservational issues and had adopted sound measures for the rational use of medicinal plants. Conservation in farms or home gardens was performed for the most commonly used plants, namely Aloe marlothii, A. zebrina, B. albitrunca, C. mopane, C. zeyheri, E. racemosa, Ficus sycomorus, Flueggea virosa, Grewia hexamita, G. monticola, H. micropetala, Sclerocarya birrea and T. sericea. Additionally, the intensity and frequency of exploitation was controlled and there were local rules to protect native plant species, particularly Adansonia digitata, B. discolor, Cissus cornifolia, C. mopane, E. elephantina, F. sycomorus, F. virosa, G. monticola, G. conjugata, Manilkara mochisia, S. birrea, and Strychnos madagascariensis. Other conservation measures included community guards in protected places to control fires and logging, mostly due to South African migrants. On the other hand, trading was controlled and confined to the village.

          Conclusions

          This study shows the social importance of the floristic richness in the Canhane village, particularly regarding the significance of medicinal plants in primary healthcare. This is reflected in the great diversity of plants used for medical purposes as well as in the wide range of their applications and associated procedures. The data compiled in this study are a contribution to the documentation of PGR at the national and regional level and can serve as a basis to develop larger and interdisciplinary studies.

          List of abbreviations

          GLTP: 

          Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area

          PGR: 

          Plant Genetic Resources

          Declarations

          Acknowledgements

          The authors would like to express their gratitude to the Canhane community, particularly the 11 informants for their unreserved efforts in transmitting traditional local knowledge, the Canhane Community Lodge for coordinating the work with the community and for the logistics, the direction of Paulo Samuel Kankhomba Primary school for selecting the students and Non-Governamental Organization LUPA. Acknowledgments are also due to botanical collectors, António Zacarias and Ernesto Macamo, and translators, Arminda Mfumo, dr. David Langa and dr. Orlando Bahule. Thanks to Dr. José Manuel Mota Cardoso (Veterinary Hospital, Eduardo Mondlane University, Mozambique) for medical terminology and language revision, Dr. Katharina Pawlowsi (Stockholm University) for the language revision, Dr. Cristina Duarte (Tropical Research Institute, Portugal) for the taxonomic revision, and Ezequiel Correia for preparing the distribution map of the study area. This work was supported by a grant from Fundo Aberto - Universidade Eduardo Mondlane and the Swedish International Development Agency (Research Funding).

          Authors’ Affiliations

          (1)
          Tropical Research Institute
          (2)
          Faculdade de Agronomia e Engenharia Florestal, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane

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          © Ribeiro et al. 2010

          This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://​creativecommons.​org/​licenses/​by/​2.​0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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