The ethnobotanical study of local mediterranean food plants as medicinal resources in southern Spain

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Rivera, D, Obon, C, Inocencio, C, Heinrich, M, Verde, A, Fajardo, J & Llorach, R 2005, 'The ethnobotanical study of local mediterranean food plants as medicinal resources in southern Spain', Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology, vol. 56, supp. 1, pp. 97-114.

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We studied medicinal and food plant species, recording an extraordinary number of species and uses in Castilla-La Mancha, Murcia and Valencia in Spain. Focusing on two demographically distinct regions - Castilla-La Mancha and Lower Segura Valley. A high proportion of the flora (20 to 30 %) is known for its medicinal properties, and, interestingly, a high number of medicinal-food plants (5 to 7 %) is recorded. The concept of "Local Food" involves the whole repertory of species that characterises the local diet (incl. local cultivars and non-cultivated gathered food plants). The number of food plant species varies between 15 and 25 % of the vascular flora, and for the gathered food plants (GFP) this decreases to a 3 to 8 %. Those GFP that are also used for medicinal purposes are only 2 to 4 % of the total vascular flora. The relevant plant families are very similar in relative numbers along the different areas: Compositae, Rosaceae and Umbelliferae, followed of Boraginaceae, Liliaceae, Cruciferae, and Caryophyllaceae. Chenopodiaceae, Polygonaceae and Gramineae are less unifomly represented or in lesser numbers. The high species diversity does not imply a general dietary relevance of this particular plant family. For instance Caryophyllaceae with a relatively low number of species comprises the "collejas" (Silene vulgaris) that have shown to be the more widely consumed species. Information regarding 145 species has been recorded. Among the Gathered Food Plant Species 81 are used in medicine, in double proportion than the cultivated food plants. 61 are orally administered, in the same form as food.

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