Ethnobotany of Wild and Semi-Wild Edible Fruit Species used by Maale and Ari Ethnic Communities in Southern Ethiopia
Keywords:Traditional knowledge. Marketing. Food shortage. Social group differentiation. Ethnobotany
Wild and semi-wild tree fruit species are important resources in combating food insecurity and providing supplementary diet to rural people. We studied wild and semi-wild fruit species used by the Maale and Ari communities in southern Ethiopia and the conservation status of these resources. We used focus group discussions (n = 18) and individual interviews (n = 144) in three rural kebeles. In total, the two communities used 52 species of wild and semi-wild fruit species which were especially important for their diet in times of food shortage. The most important species were, for the Maale community, Balanites rotundifolia (Tiegh.) Blatt. and Dobera glabra (Forssk.) Juss. ex Poir. and, for the Ari community, Carissa spinarum L. and Vitex doniana Sweet. No significant variation in ethnobotanical knowledge regarding fruit species existed among gender and age groups. The main traded fruit species were B. rotundifolia, Ximenia caffra Sond., and Vangueria madagascariensis J.F.Gmel. The major threats reported by informants to the availability of wild and semi-wild fruit species were tree felling and conversion of forest to agricultural land. In addition to preserving the local knowledge and implementing conservation strategies that protect the remaining fruit trees, maintenance and enrichment planting of the most important species are plausible management interventions.
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