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Table 3 Categorization of wild food plants (WFPs) based on some features such as unavailability, taste, processing difficulties, and health risk at the time of gathering/consumption/or after intake

From: Assessing the levels of food shortage using the traffic light metaphor by analyzing the gathering and consumption of wild food plants, crop parts and crop residues in Konso, Ethiopia

  Categories WFPs in each category Remarks
1 Plants which are rare or difficult to find nearby. Dobera glabra, Cordia sinensis, Acacia hockii, and Balanites rotundifolia Dobera glabra is found only in remote lowland areas.
2 Plants consumed normally mixed with other food items, but under severe food shortage eaten alone. Moringa stenopetala, Pachycymbium laticoronum, Adenia ellenbekii, Coffea arabica, Amaranthus dubius, Brassica napus, Corchorus trilocularis, Vigna sp., Portulaca sp.  
3 Those normally eaten only by children but eaten by adults in bad times. Many of the WFPs fall in this category. Consumption of these WFPs by adults points to a change in the availability of food and indicates incoming or prevalence of food shortage.
4 Plants, immature plant parts with less nutritious, irritating taste. Amorphophallus gomboczianus, manqoraya (Rhus sp.), Tamarindus indica Immature tubers of Amorphophallus gomboczianus (harvested in the first year when normally it ripens in 2-3 years). Has poor palatability and also has irritating taste. Manqoraya fruits temporarily desensitize/paralyze teeth after consumption. Tamarindus indica fruits have sour taste.
5 Plants with low yield of edible parts/products, relatively poor taste. Kullayya sakkarra, Amaranthus hybridus, Ehretia cymosa, Lantana trifolia, dhashandhashata (species not identified), Psydrax schimperiana Kullayya sakkarra tubers are diminutive, not palatable but are nonetheless consumed under critical food shortage. Amaranthus hybridus tiny seeds with bitter taste.
6 Products which are extremely hard to process or to cook to food; sometimes also sour. Dobera glabra, Grewia ferruginea, G. bicolor Gathering and consumption of Dobera glabra (kernel/fruit) clearly indicates that the household consuming it has entered the worst stage of food shortage/starvation as the kernel is rock-hard to be boiled. It could also lead to diarrhea and stomach ache. Grewia ferruginea and G. bicolor: tough to process because its cover cannot easily be removed. Amorphophallus gomboczianus tubers are hard to process to food.
7 Watery weeds or parts normally consumed only after adequate desiccation to avoid diarrhea. Pachycymbium laticoronum, and leaf of Amaranthus sp. which would normally require desiccation before consumption. Frequent consumption of these stuffs is deemed unhealthy by the Konso community.
8 Plants or plant parts which are dangerous to handle. Opuntia ficus-indica, Arisaema flavum Fruits of Opuntia ficus-indica bear the finest/tiniest spines which will blind in case of entering into the eyes. Arisaema flavum -thorny and difficult to collect leaves.
9 Plants which are health threatening after intake, deemed poisonous and if consumed are perceived as fatal. Some types/species of mushroom (Boletus sp.) are poisonous and cannot be consumed without careful management/cooking. Only collected by adults, not by children to avoid child health risks.
  1. Note that some plants can appear in more than one category.