What are the drivers of popularity and versatility of medicinal plants in local medical systems?
Acta Botânica Brasílica
The cultural importance of medicinal plants has been measured in terms of popularity (number of people who know a plant) and versatility (number of therapeutic indications mentioned for a plant). Previous works have provided evidence about some drivers of medicinal plant importance, such as attributes of availability, efficiency, palatability and taste. The present study tested whether local perception of efficiency, availability (ease of acquisition), palatability (degree of pleasantness), and
... pleasantness), and taste influence the popularity and versatility of medicinal plants in two rural communities of Buíque, Brazil. Free-listing was applied to identify the medicinal plants known/utilized in the communities, while semi-structured interviews were performed to collect more information about the plants. Informants participated in exercises to score the plant-parts that they knew and used. Statistical analysis was performed through multiple linear regressions, with none of the models retaining all variables as explanatory for popularity and versatility. However, availability and efficiency jointly explained versatility in one of the communities, while palatability was inversely related to versatility and popularity in the other. This study demonstrated that the studied individuals select plants differently, which makes exposing the driving forces of such differences a challenge.