Quantitative ethnobotanical study of toxic plants used in the traditional pharmacopoeia of the central Middle Atlas -Morocco-

Mariame Najem, Jamal Ibijbijen, Laila Nassiri


Background: This is the first quantitative study of poisonous medicinal plants in which the practitioners of traditional medicine in the Moroccan central Middle Atlas region were interviewed to document and analyze their traditional ethnobotanical knowledge used to prepare plant-based drugs.

Methods: To collect ethnobotanical data on poisonous medicinal plants, 58 practitioners of traditional medicine were interviewed. The quantitative measurement of the obtained data was accomplished by quantitative indices such as the use value (UV), family use value (FUV), relative frequency of citation (RFC), fidelity level (FL), relative importance (RI), informant consensus factor (ICF), and cultural importance index (CI).

Results: Among the 83 poisonous medicinal plants recorded, Ruta montana L. had the highest rate of UV (2.293). Furthermore, Anacyclus pyrethrum L. demonstrated the highest RFC (0.810), while Carum carvi L. had both the highest RI (95) and CI (0.155). Five species were distinguished for their high-fidelity levels, among which Aristolochia paucinervis Pomel had the highest FL values for the treatment of dermatological and digestive disorders. The other four species were Ruta montana L. for treating respiratory, oral, and neurological diseases, Urtica urens L. for treating osteoarticular and urogenital diseases, Verbascum sinuatum L. for treating ophthalmic diseases, and Ammi visnaga, (L.) Lam. for treating cardiovascular disorders. Ophthalmic disorders had the highest value of ICF (0.743), and a very significant positive correlation was observed between RFC and UV (R² = 0.5968) and between RI and CI (R² = 0.9999) was observed.

Conclusions: The present study reveals that traditional medicine practitioners in the central Middle Atlas region utilize many poisonous medicinal plants in traditional herbal medicine. Although these plants have therapeutic virtues, their toxic potency necessitates vigilance in use.

Key words: Poisonous medicinal plants, Quantitative ethnobotany, Taditional phytotherapy, Central Middle Atlas region

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Ethnobotany Research and Applications (ISSN 1547-3465) is published online by the Department of Ethnobotany, Institute of Botany, Ilia State University.
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