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Comparative use patterns of plant resources in rural areas of South Africa and Zimbabwe

Maroyi A, MT Rasethe
Medicinal Plants and Economic Development (MPED) Research Centre, Botany Department, Faculty of Science and Agriculture, University of Fort Hare, Private Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa.
* Corresponding Author:Address Correspondence to: Alfred Maroyi, e-mail:

Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany 2015, 84(2), 288-297. https://doi.org/10.32604/phyton.2015.84.288

Abstract

Documentation of use patterns of plants across national boundaries is of relevance in understanding the importance of plant resources to livelihood strategies of different ethnic groups. Plant resources have gained prominence as a natural asset through which families derive food, firewood, income, medicines and timber, enabling particularly poor communities to achieve self-sufficiency. The objective of this study was to investigate the trends in plant usage in South Africa and Zimbabwe. An ethnobotanical investigation was conducted between January 2012 and January 2013 in the Limpopo Province, South Africa and the Midlands Province, Zimbabwe. The study used questionnaire surveys and interviews with a total of 143 participants to explore plant use patterns in South Africa and Zimbabwe. A total of 98 plant species were identified, with Zimbabwe contributing 70 species and 47 species from South Africa. The uses were classified into 15 categories, major use categories were firewood, food plants, medicine and timber. Food plant was a major plant use category in Zimbabwe, contributing 55.1%, followed by medicinal plants (36.8%), firewood (35.7%) and timber (31.6%). In contrast, firewood was the major plant use category in South Africa, contributing 18.4%, followed by food plants (17.3%), medicinal (14.3%) and timber (1.0%). Comparison of the two countries demonstrated remarkable differences in plant use patterns. The results showed that rural households in Zimbabwe were more reliant on plant resources than their counterparts in South Africa. Such a trend could be attributed to a close relationship between the local people, and their natural and agricultural environment leading to a rich knowledge base on plants, plant use and related practices. This comparative analysis strengthens the firm belief that utilization of plant resources represents an important shared heritage, preserved over the centuries, which must be exploited in order to provide further new and useful body of ethnobotanical knowledge.

Keywords

Ethnobotany, Plant use, Rural communities, South Africa, Zimbabwe.

Cite This Article

A, M., Rasethe, M. (2015). Comparative use patterns of plant resources in rural areas of South Africa and Zimbabwe. Phyton-International Journal of Experimental Botany, 84(2), 288–297.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
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