Over the world, people rely on plant species for food, medicine, fodder and wood uses
[1, 2]. Among the plant species, the multipurpose species significantly contribute to livelihood enhancing of local populations
[3–5]. Unfortunately, most of these multipurpose species are facing a decline of their populations due to the growing demand of non timber forest products (NTFPs) for household consumption as well as for local, regional and international trade
[6–8]. Therefore, there is a need to assess the use pattern of these species by local populations in order to define a sustainable participatory conservation strategy for them. In this light, we focused on the use pattern of the important multipurpose species of Chrysophyllum albidum G. Don, in southern Benin.
In Benin, the African star apple Chrysophyllum albidum (Sapotaceaea) occurs on ferallitic soils
. C. albidum is a lowland rain forest tree species which can reach 25 to 37 m in height at maturity with a girth varying from 1.5 to 2 m
. Despite the role of ecological barrier the Dahomey Gap played in the distribution of many evergreen rain forests species in Western Africa
, Chrysophyllum albidum is present in Benin.
C. albidum is highly used and appreciated in southern Benin, where it is called azongogwe or azonbobwe in local language "Fon, Goun" and azonvivo, azonvovwe or azonbebi in local language "Aïzo"
. Nowadays, in Benin, C. albidum is considered as vulnerable and its habitat seems to be restricted to traditional agroforestry systems or remnant semi-evergreen rain forest stands often protected for religious reasons
Previous studies on C. albidum in western Africa reported the importance of the species for local community livelihood improving and its potentiality for food industries. For instance, the physical, chemical and nutritional characterization of C. albidum fruits have shown a high industrial potential
[15–17]. Some ethnobotanical studies on NTFPs species have mentioned C. albidum as used by local communities for medicinal and food purpose
Despite its importance, in Benin C. albidum is poorly investigated and this species was mentioned in the group of wild fruit tree species which need more detailed scientific information regarding their use pattern, ecology and reproduction biology in order to define a better conservation strategy
. Therefore, this study intended to fulfill this gap by gathering information on the use of this species in Benin.
Most studies on ethnobotanical knowledge have concluded that there is an unequal indigenous knowledge and perception of plant use among local populations related to differences in ecological regions, genders, age, ethnicity, profession, religion, cultural beliefs, and abundance and usefulness of the species being investigated
[5, 20–23]. Such information is relevant to ensure a sustainable and efficient implementation of future management schemes for plant species conservation
[24, 25]. Therefore, in this study, we also assessed the differences in local knowledge related to gender, ages and ethnic groups for C. albidum.