Ethnobotanical investigation of three traditional leafy vegetables [Alternanthera sessilis (L.) DC. Bidens pilosa L. Launaea taraxacifolia Willd.] widely consumed in southern and central Benin

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Research Paper 01/02/2015
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Ethnobotanical investigation of three traditional leafy vegetables [Alternanthera sessilis (L.) DC. Bidens pilosa L. Launaea taraxacifolia Willd.] widely consumed in southern and central Benin

Faouziath Sanoussi, Hyacinthe Ahissou, Myriame Dansi, Bernice Hounkonnou, Paterne Agre, Alexandre Dansi
J. Bio. Env. Sci.6( 2), 187-198, February 2015.
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Abstract

In Africa, importance of traditional leafy vegetables (TLV) for food security of people living in both rural and urban areas is well recognized. In Benin, TLVs such as Launea taraxacifolia, Bidens pilosa and Alternanthera sessilis are widely consumed with high importance for both nutrition and medicinal purposes. To document indigenous knowledge and farmers’ know-how related to these TLVs, an ethnobotanical investigation, using participatory approach research methods and tools, was conducted in 19 villages randomly selected across ethnic and agro-ecological zones of southern and central Benin. The geographical distribution of the three species was established and the southern area appeared suitable for in situ conservation programme of the three species. Respectively 11.11%, 55.56% and 90% of the respondents reported that Launaea taraxacifolia, Bidens pilosa and Alternanthera sessilis are still harvested from the wild (level 0 of domestication) while 22.22% and 16.67% of respondents reported that L. taraxacifolia and B. pilosa are being cultivated (level 4 of domestication). Women were mostly involved in harvesting and the most common harvest method was plant uprooting and plant stem cutting. The study revealed the existence of morphotypes resulting in the identification of different varieties of L. taraxacifolia (three varieties), Bidens pilosa (two varieties) and Alternanthera sessilis (two varieties). The frequency of consumption of each of the leafy vegetables and its consumption method varied according to the ethnic group. Regarding methods of preparation, sauce made from raw leaves was reported only for Launaea taraxacifolia. According to the respondents, L. taraxacifolia was the most valued medicinally, and is used for the prevention or healing of 21 diseases with 16 possible pharmacological functions. Further research is required on biochemical and phytochemical characterization of these species as well as effects of processing methods on their nutritional value.

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