Ethnobotany of Hyphaene thebaica (L.) Mart. (Arecaceae) in the Afar depressions, Ethiopia
Background: Hyphaene thebaica is a Palm tree or shrub often with dichotomous branching that is predominantly found in an open wet landscape, riverbeds/flood plains, and around river valleys. This study was conducted to document the ethnobotany of Hyphaene thebaica in the Afar depressions, Ethiopia.
Methods: A purposeful sampling method was used to select the informants. A total of 80 informants - 20 informants from each district and 15 of them in each district were women. Out of the selected informants 12 of them i.e., three from each district were considered key informants based on the recommendations from the administrators of different hierarchies who are believed to have sufficient knowledge about the plant and communities. The remainder (68 informants) were general informants. Direct matrix ranking was used to rank the preferred use of H. thebaica. Descriptive statistical analysis was performed using OriginPro 2022.
Results: Results revealed that H. thebaica has numerous importance as implied by the informants in the Afar communities. These include material culture and Sennan Ari (100%), Doma (45%), and medicinal value (32%). The use preference ranking of the species revealed that material culture and making Sennan Ari were ranked first with 100% of the key informants confirming the information.
Conclusions: The present study investigated the indigenous knowledge of the desert Palm, Hyphaene thebaica, and found the plant is multipurpose and is utilized for material culture production, temporary shelter/house (Sennan Ari) making, extraction of an alcohol/liquor, medicinal value, and income-generation. Advancing the material culture production by integrating current knowledge and phytochemical investigation on the alcohol extract and determining its efficacy is recommended.
Keywords: Desert palm, Herbal medicine, Hyphaene, Indigenous knowledge, Material culture, Pastoralism
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