The results of our study are reported in Table 1 ' [see Additional file 1]'. Plant families are listed in systematic order; within each family the species are cited in alphabetical order. The taxa cited are 61, belonging to 26 botanical families, among which 44 as food or flavouring, 22 in animal alimentation and 7 in rituals especially connected with agriculture and plant growth. Number of citations and relevant percentage on total number of citations (336) were reported too. In our paper we have compared the data collected with data present in ethno-botanical texts (see references). This has been done so as to highlight uses not previously reported or possibly described for other Italian areas. Comparison with the main papers on Basilicata [1–3] that were not concerning feed plants shows that 19 plants related to ethno-botanical uses (*) are new for the region, while 23 plants (°)(Table I) ' [see Additional file 1]' are cited in the texts [1–3] but here have at least one new or different use. The food or aromatic plants found number 44 in total, 34 of these being wild. The total number of plants reported represent 19.13 % of the food and flavouring species described by Caneva et al.  for Basilicata region, even though some plants we describe are new for Basilicata (Asphodeline liburnica, Crithmum maritimum, Cynodon dactylon, Helichrysum italicum, Inula crithmoides, Pisum sativum subsp. elatius, Sonchus tenerrimus, Sonchus oleraceus, Teucrium polium subsp. capitatum, Urospermum picroides). A certain number of these are cited in specific Italian books on wild plants as food [9, 10].
A) Food and flavouring uses
Table 1 ' [see Additional file 1]' shows that the food use of wild plants is again still present and that the greatest quantities of wild herbs are harvested in spring, with the resumption of rural tasks (weed killing on farms, preparation of the vineyards). Fewer food plants are gathered during the summer, while a certain number of these are available all the year round.
The consumption of so-called "misca", a mixture of vegetables, is very frequent in the area. These greens must be boiled, strained, then cooked again in a frying pan, with garlic, beans and, in some cases, pigskin. The dish is made using the leaves of many wild plants, such as Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris, Borago officinalis, Cichorium intybus, Foeniculum vulgare subsp. piperitum, Papaver rhoeas, Picris sp.pl., Sonchus sp.pl., Reichardia picroides etc., to which certain cultivated species may be added, such Solanum tuberosum tubers. This mixture of greens, typical of the area and appealing in its simplicity, is fit to be served in restaurants and local farm guesthouses.
Pharmacobotanical properties for the wild food plants are under study [2, 11, 12], but several food species have been insufficiently investigated. The food use of S. oleraceus and Sonchus sp. pl. is justified by the high content of vitamin C, carotenoids, fatty acids of type ω-3 [13–16]; protective properties against hepatic injury has been described for S. arvensis .
Origanum heracleoticum, a species with more a valuable aroma than Origanum vulgare  and used very often in cookery, is undoubtedly fit to be cultivated in Maratea.
In the last few years, in addition to the known antibiotic activity and to the antioxidant properties of some aglicones such as thymolquinone, thymol, eugenol, 2-phenylethanol, carvacrol, 3-hexen-1-ol , it has been proved that the essential oil acts as an inhibitor of carcinomas . The biochemical composition of the species in Calabria, a few kilometres from the area of the research and the chemosistematic of the genus Origanum were investigated [20, 21].
The use of Helichrysum italicum to flavour sauces is new for Italy, but some aromatic uses have been described [22, 23]; scientific literature reports its medicinal properties among which that digestive [24–26]. The plant, containing a complex of flavonoids (elicrisin), an essential oil with pinene, eugenol, nerol, caffeic and ursolic acid , should be more greatly appreciated for its anti-inflammatory [28, 29] and antibiotic  properties.
The custom of eating Inula crithmoides tops in salad is not common in Italy; this plant and Crithmum maritimum are perceived as being similar and are given the same phytonim "crìtini" [26, 30, 31]. C. maritimum (potassium salt, pectin, vitamins A, B2, C, essential oil with pinene, dipentene, eugenol, carvacrol) is an anabolic, carminative, choleretic, diuretic, eupeptic and vermifuge agent . Also I. crithmoides contains terpenes (α- and β-phellandrene, p-cymene, α- and β-pinene), in addition to linalool, carvacrol , flavonols , thymol derivatives .
A rarer food use is that of Lathyrus sylvestris (tender seeds eaten in soups) . Its vernacular name "òleca" refers to a plant eaten as a vegetable, from the Latin "olera", but the toxicity of some species of the genus Lathyrus is known. The pathology of lathyrism is due to a toxic compound, β-amino-propionitrile [31, 37].
The local practice of keeping dried figs skewered and held together with flavouring sticks is also reported for the nearby Mt. Pollino . The aromatizing properties of Myrtus communis, containing mirtenol, tannins, terpenes, bitter compound  have been known since ancient times: mortadella derives, in fact, from "mortarum", a Roman sausage with myrtle . The salami, ancient "lucànica", seasoned with spices and laurel fruits, of which Apicio (I sec B.C.) describes a recipe, has existed since Roman times .
The food use of Leopoldia comosa bulbs, widespread in Turkey , Greece [41, 42] and Southern Italy [1, 2, 4, 37, 38], with its prevalently Greek culture, could have been introduced by the colonisers of Magna Grecia . In the area studied, the bulbs (once sold) are consumed in various ways, flavoured with garlic, chilli pepper, mint and oregano. These bulbs are cooked after eliminating the external skin , boiled for a long time (in water and vinegar) to reduce the bitter taste, due to homoisoflavones [44, 45] and, probably, their toxicity, as the plant could contain polyhydroxylated pyrrolizidine alkaloids . Also in Clematis vitalba buds, the irritant compound protoanemonin is broken down through boiling.
Borago officinalis, an emollient agent (mucilages, allantoin and mineral salts ), is another species with remarkable gastronomic potential, containing small amounts of pyrrolizidine alkaloids . The food use in omelettes or fritters of Asphodeline liburnica young buds, "sbaràvule", whose vernacular name likens it to a wild asparagus, is neither described for Italian areas nor cited by Kunkel [31, 36, 37, 47]. The custom of eating boiled shoots of Equisetum telmateja (not cited in ) is rare in Italy [1, 26].
Some plant-based dishes were (and still are) obligatory on important religious occasions: on Easter Sunday and the following day the traditional lunch is roast lamb with L. comosa and potatoes with chopped tomatoes, onion and black pepper. A discontinued use, instead, related to the Holy Saturday, was the consumption of a soup of cooked wild chicory with salted pigs' trotters. Asparagus acutifolius, in addition to being consumed in omelettes or in sauces, is included in small round loafs, "pagnottedde i spàgari" . Other peculiar uses were coffee prepared with toasted seeds of Cicer arietinum or with the toasted rhizomes of Cynodon dactylon. In times of famine the starch obtained grinding the latter was added to flour to integrate it, or else the rhizomes were boiled and eaten as vegetables (uses not reported by Aliotta ).
Many plants are administered to herbivores such as arboreal species, Graminaceae and Leguminosae species. Ceratonia siliqua is one of the most widely used plants for herbivores [51, 52]; in the past, this was an important economic plant on the southern Mediterranean horizon. The harvesting of Psoralea bituminosa, a vermifuge  and vulnerary agent , is worthy of note; however, it contains photosensitizing furocoumarins [55–57]. In pig feed we find both thick oily leaves, such as Tussilago farfara, Borago officinalis, Nasturtium officinale, Picris echioides, as well as Quercus acorns, but also Arum italicum and Asphodelus microcarpus tubers, Crataegus monogyna and Pyrus amygdaliformis fruits. Perhaps the tastiness of the famous "lucaniche" can also be attributed to the ingestion of these plants. For feeding rabbit Foeniculum vulgare subsp.piperitum, Papaver rhoeas, Digitaria sanguinalis, Reichardia picroides, Salix alba are indicated; only Urtica dioica and P. rhoeas are bird seed . Until a few decades ago, 50% of fodder for pigs came from wild plant resources (acorns, Arum italicum tubers, wild fruits etc.); today this practice is still present but in a more limited way.
Among the most interesting beliefs is that concerning Arum italicum: its abundant flowering and fructification is interpreted as predicting a future good harvest. In fact people think that fruits, spadix, leaves and bulb represent respectively the harvests of maize, cereals, vegetables and potatoes . These fertility omens are most probably to be related to humidity levels which increases the growth and the luxuriance of certain plants. A similar belief is held also relating to Asphodelus microcarpus. The ancient associated the arum-like motifs with snakes in a mystical chthonic concept . Finally, by attributing to spikelets of Lolium multiflorum subsp. gaudini and Lolium perenne, the values "much", "a little" and "nothing" on a cyclical basis, people believed it was possible to tell if their love was reciprocated. It was the last spikelet that gave the definitive answer.