A survey of wild plant species for food use in Sicily (Italy) - results of a 3-year study in four Regional Parks

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Abstract

Background: This paper illustrates the results of a study carried out in four Regional Parks of Sicily (Italy), concerning traditional knowledge on food use of wild plant species. The main aims of the paper were: (i) to verify which wild plant species are used for food purpose in the local culture based on information provided by elderly inhabitants (ii) to verify the presence of wild plant species which have not been cited for food use in previous studies in the Mediterranean area (iii) to determine how many of the most frequently cited wild plant species are cultivated by the local population in the four Sicilian Parks. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were carried out in the local communities of the four Regional Parks between 2007 and 2010. A total of 802 people over the age of 60 were interviewed. Cultural Importance Index was used to evaluate the level of importance given to any wild plant species as a food in the local culture. The level of appreciation of the wild plant species and the possible effects of wild plants on human health were also investigated. Results: Local communities currently use a total number of 119 wild species for food purposes. Asteraceae and Brassicaceae were the most represented botanical families. In each of the four Sicilian Parks, Cichorium intybus L. and Foeniculum vulgare Mill. obtained the highest Cultural Importance Index values. Sixty-four species were indicated as also having medicinal properties. Leaves and other aerial plant parts were the parts most-used for the preparation of traditional recipes. Conclusions: The research shows that the level of traditional knowledge on the food uses of wild plant species in the study area is poor. The food uses of plants which are most likely to survive over time are those at the interface of food and medicine. Further agronomic studies are needed for a number of species with a view to introducing them as a crop into non-intensive agricultural systems.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)1-24
Numero di pagine24
RivistaJournal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine
Volume12
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Cultural Studies
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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