An ethnobotanical study of traditional medicinal plants used for human ailments in Yem ethnic group, south Ethiopia


  • Gideon Woldemariam Wolaita Sodo University
  • Sebsebe Demissew Addis Ababa University
  • Zemede Asfaw Addis Ababa University


gender, human ailments, healing potential, paired ranking, traditional knowledge, Asteraceae, herbal experts, maceration, Yemisa, Rumex abyssinica


Background: Medicinal plants (MPs) have been widely used traditionally for strengthening the health care among communities of low-income countries including Ethiopia. The Yem ethnic group in Ethiopia traditionally utilize MPs for treating human ailments since ancient times. However, MPs and the associated traditional knowledge are under erosion due to human-induced and natural factors. Therefore, documenting the plant biodiversity along with the associated indigenous knowledge is an urgent task for conservation.

Methods: This study was conducted between 2013 and 2016 with the objective of documenting MPs used for treating human ailments. Ethnobotanical data were collected using semi-structured interviews and guided transect walks. The data were collected from 69 informants that were selected by stratified random sampling and purposive sampling. Data were analyzed using paired ranking (PR), Informant consensus factor (ICF), Fidelity Level (FL (%)) and Direct Matrix Ranking (DMR).

Results: About 213 plant species that are used for treating 117 human ailments were recorded. Gastrointestinal & Visceral organs ailments scored the highest ICF value of 0.82. Analysis of FL revealed that species such as Haplocarpha rueppellii, Carduus schimperi and Inula confertiflora had a 100% fidelity, Maesa lanceolata 80% and Rumex abyssinicus 75% fidelity. Multipurpose medicinal species such as Cordia africana, Juniperus procera and Podocarpus falcatus were species locally threatened by use pressure.

Conclusion: The Yem ethnic group has rich traditional knowledge of utilizing diverse plant species for maintaining human health care. Conducting phytochemical screening and clinical trials of the species with high fidelity is suggested for their efficacy, safety, and standard uses.

Keywords: Asteraceae, gender, herbal experts, maceration, regression model, Rumex abyssinicus, Yemisa

Author Biographies

Gideon Woldemariam, Wolaita Sodo University

Department of Biology, PhD

Sebsebe Demissew, Addis Ababa University

Department of Plant biology & Biodiversity Management, Professor

Zemede Asfaw, Addis Ababa University

Department of Plant Biology & Biodiversity,





How to Cite

Woldemariam, G., Demissew, S., & Asfaw, Z. (2021). An ethnobotanical study of traditional medicinal plants used for human ailments in Yem ethnic group, south Ethiopia. Ethnobotany Research and Applications, 22, 1–15. Retrieved from




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