Plant genetic resources and traditional knowledge on medicinal use of wild shrub and herbaceous plant species in the Etna Regional Park (Eastern Sicily, Italy)
Tuttolomondo, T.; Licata, M.; Leto, C.; Gargano, M.Letizia.; Venturella, G.; La Bella, S.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 155(2): 1362-1381
ISSN/ISBN: 0378-8741 PMID: 25077465 DOI: 10.1016/j.jep.2014.07.043
This paper illustrates the results of a study carried out in the Etna Regional Park (Eastern Sicily, Italy) concerning the traditional knowledge on medicinal use of wild plant species. It contains the results of a quantitative analysis carried out for the first time. A total of 71 wild species are used for medicinal purposes. Two species, Astracantha sicula (Biv.) Greuter and Trifolium phleoides Willd., are little known as medicinal in the Mediterranean area. The main aim of the study was to understand to what extent current knowledge on the medicinal use of plants is still an element of the culture within the elderly population of the Etna Regional Park. A further aim was to identify species not previously reported as medicinal in the Mediterranean area with a potential agricultural interest. The information was obtained using a semi-structured interview format performed on a sample of 196 people over the age of 60 who were considered experts in rural traditions. The plant uses were compared with other medical-ethnobotanical studies carried out in other areas of Sicily, Italy and various other Mediterranean countries. A number of quantitative indices were also used in order to verify the incidence of the species cited in the study within the culture and traditional medicine. Local communities currently use a total number of 71 wild species (34 families) as remedies for medicinal purposes. Most of the species were used as treatments against metabolic disorders and for general health. The leaves and the aerial parts of plants are the most-used parts of the plant and the most common preparation methods are decoction and direct application of plant parts. Astracantha sicula and Trifolium phleoides have never been documented as a species with medicinal properties in the Mediterranean literature. Only very few medicinal uses are widely known by all the informants and, on many occasions, a specific medicinal use is cited by only very few people. The quantitative analysis shows that the level of traditional knowledge on medicinal use of plants in the study area is poor, highlighting a considerably advanced state of cultural erosion.