From Garden to Market? The cultivation of native and introduced medicinal plant species in Cajamarca, Peru and implications for habitat conservation


  • Rainer Bussmann William L. Brown Center for Plant Genetic Resources
  • Douglas Sharon
  • Jennifer Ly University of California at Berkeley


medicinal plants, gardens


Large amounts of medicinal plants are sold in the markets of Trujillo and Chiclayo, two cities on the north coast of Peru. However, a large percentage of this material comes from the Peruvian highlands, most notably from the Department of Cajamarca. Although prior studies indicate that at least some material, mostly introduced species, is grown in home-gardens on the coast, the origin of the vast bulk of the plants was unclear. The present study reports on medicinal plants grown, collected and sold in the Cajamarca region. Only 42 plant species, 34 of them indigenous, were sold in the local markets. In contrast, 76 species (25 introduced, 51 indigenous) were found in local gardens or were cultivated by vendors. Of these however, only five species were commonly cultivated in the home-gardens studied, and 11 were grown by plant vendors. All but three of the commonly cultivated species were introductions. Contrary to the initial assumption, increasing plant demand in the large coastal markets has not led to significant cultivation of medicinal plants in home-gardens. The vast bulk of the plant material sold in the markets of Northern Peru represents plants collected in the wild. No data are available as to whether this massive harvest is sustainable or not.


Cantidades grandes de plantas medicinales se venden en los mercados d Trujillo y Chiclayo, dos ciudades en la costa norte del Perú. Sin embargo, un porcentaje grande de este material viene de la sierra peruana, principalmente del departamento de Cajamarca. Aunque estudios previos indican que por lo menos una porción del material, mayormente especies introducidas, es cultivado en jardines caseros en la costa, el origen de la vasta mayoría de las plantas no fue muy claro. El estudio actual reporta sobre las plantas medicinales cultivadas, coleccionadas y vendidas en la región de Cajamarca. Solamente 42 especies, de las cuales 34 son indigenas, se vendieron en los mercados locales. En contraste, 76 especies (25 introducidas, 51 indígenas) fueron ubicadas en los jardines locales o cultivadas por los vendedores. De estos, sin embargo, solamente cinco especies fueron cultivadas comúnmente en los jardines caseros estudiados, y 11 fueron cultivadas por los vendedores de plantas. Solamente tres de las especies comúnmente cultivadas no fueron introducidas. Al contrario de la presunción inicial, la demanda incrementada para plantas en los mercados grandes de la costa no se ha resultado a una cultivación significante de plantas medicinales en los jardines caseros. La vasta mayoría de las plantas vendidas en los mercados del Perú Septentrional representa plantas coleccionadas en un estado silvestre. No hay datos disponibles para indicar si esta cosecha masiva es sostenible o no.

Author Biographies

Rainer Bussmann, William L. Brown Center for Plant Genetic Resources

Head William L. Brown Center and Wm. L. Brown Curator for Economic Botany

Jennifer Ly, University of California at Berkeley

University of California at Berkeley, College of Natural Resources, Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, 245 Mulford, Berkeley, CA 94720-3114, U.S.A.




How to Cite

Bussmann, R., Sharon, D., & Ly, J. (2008). From Garden to Market? The cultivation of native and introduced medicinal plant species in Cajamarca, Peru and implications for habitat conservation. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 6, 351–361. Retrieved from