Volume 1, Number 2 (2016) pp 43-49 doi 10.20448/803.1.2.43.49 | Research Articles
A survey of wild edible plants was carried out in Ado-Ekiti region with the aim of documenting wild edible plants species (WEPs) in the study area, determine their abundance and propose strategies that would help in the conservation of the rare species. A rapid appraisal method was used. Visits were made to four randomly selected communities in the region where semi-structured questionnaire guide was used to elicit information from the respondents. Interviews were also carried out with groups of respondents as well as key informants. A total of 47 WEPs which belonged to 32 families were identified in the region. The various ethnobotanical utilizations of the WEPs were defined. The species were not cultivated hence respondents depended on wildlings of the species. The abundance scale used in this study revealed that 10 of the WEPs were presently rare. Strategies that would conserve the rare species were proposed.
Keywords: Wild edible plants, Conservation, Nigeria.
Citation | J. Kayode; S. M. Akinluyi (2016). Documentation and Conservation of Wild Edible Plants in Ado- Ekiti Region of Ekiti State, Nigeria. Canadian Journal of Agriculture and Crops, 1(2): 43-49.
Copyright: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
Funding : The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
Competing Interests: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.
History : Received: 6 June 2016/ Revised: 17 June 2016/ Accepted: 21 June 2016/ Published: 27 June 2016
Publisher: Online Science Publishing
Wild edible plants (WEPs) are plants that grow spontaneously in self-maintaining populations in natural or semi-natural ecosystems and exist independently of direct human action . They are endowed with one or more parts that can be used for food  and / or medicine. WEPs are locally available especially during the times of drought or conflict-driven famine. They tolerate water stress better than their domesticated relatives through the possession of an innate resilience to rapid climate change, which is often lacking in exotic species. The gathering and use of wild plants is part of the cultural history of a community hence they form part of the people’s local identity and traditions  dishes made of wild foods are often identified as functional foods that is foods with medicinal properties .
Also WEPs provide greater benefits to vulnerable populations. They are low-input, low cost option for increasing nutrition and decreasing the need to spend limited cash resources on food  and medicine. Their use is based on local ecological knowledge. In Nigeria, deforestation has caused a severe reduction in the population of wild species. This gross reduction has also resulted to sharp decline and / or loss in the local knowledge about WEPs . At present, there is lack of accurate database on the available botanicals in the country . Recent initiative tends to suggest that the biodiversity erosion of these species should be prevented.
Consequent on the above, it is now expedient that information of WEPs are documented, conserved and passed on from generation to generation. This study aimed at documenting WEPs in the study area, determine their abundance and propose strategies that would help in the conservation of the rare species.
Ado-Ekiti region (7040’N, 5015’E) constituted the present Ado Ekiti Local Government area of Ekiti State, Nigeria. The region has a tropical humid hot climate with two seasons, rainy and dry seasons. The rainy season lasts from March to October and the dry seasons, November to February . The soil composition of the area consisted of high percentages of sands, silt and clay . The population, according to the 2006 census was 308, 621 . The people are majorly of the Ekiti sub-ethnic group of Yoruba.
Four communities located within the region were randomly selected. Communities selected were Igbo Aso, Ago Aduloju, Arewa and Ilasa. In each community, ten respondents were randomly selected and interviewed with the aid of semi-structured questionnaire matrix. The interviews which were aimed at accessing the traditional knowledge of the respondents on the WEPs, were conducted with fairly open framework, focused and two-way communication.
The WEPs and their edible parts were identified. Their method(s) of preparation and usage were identified and recorded. Voucher specimens of the identified species were collected and later deposited at the herbarium of the Department of Plant Science and Biotechnology, Ekiti State University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria. The relative abundance of the species in the communities sampled was determined using the time taken to physically sight the species in each community. The species were considered abundant when sighted in less than 1hour, moderately abundant when sighted within 1 and 2 hours and rare when sighted above 2 hours.
Group interviews were conducted in order to determine group consensus and define respondents’ indigenous knowledge on the species. Each group was made up of at least four respondents. Key informants made up of Officials of Agriculture Development Project and Forestry Division were identified and interviewed. Secondary information was obtained from records and internet.
A total of 47 WEPs were identified. These species belonged to 32 families. Table 1 revealed that the families Asteraceae and Euphorbiaceae had six and five species respectively, families Amaranthaceae and Mimosaceae have three species each and families Clusiaceae and Sterculiaceae had two species each. Other families had one species each (Table1). Most of these species were uncultivated but grow widely in the wild.
Field observation made within the study region revealed that some of the species have been domesticated, though at low rate. These include A.artilis, B. sapida, S. mombins and V. amygdalina. The various ethnobotanical utilizations of the WEPs are shown in Table 2.Field observation revealed that respondents were quite familiar with the medicinal values of plant species in their environment thus confirming the earlier observations of Dahlberg and Trygger ; Bruschi et. al.  and Corrigan et. al. . The abundance scale used in this study revealed that 10 of the WEPs were presently rare (Table 3).
The respondents’ indigenous knowledge (Table 4) revealed that wildlings of the rare WEPs were available in the study area thus indicating that the preservation of the wild species could be advantageous in the study area. Wildlings preservation could be advocated to ensure their availability in the study area. Respondents were quite aware that all the rare species could be propagated from their seeds. This attributes tend to insinuate that respondents might be able to nurture these species if cultivated as they were quite familiar with the act of cultivating from seeds. Already, the rare species were known to thrive well and their ethnomedicinal values have been established in the study area. These features could enhance their domestication in the study area.
Also, Table 4 revealed that respondents were conscious of the fact that some of the rare species could be propagated from cuttings. These include M. puberula, and P. mildbraedii. The inherent advantages of this method were analyzed by respondents in Table 4. The potential of viable economic returns and/or production of insect resistant and durable woody product guaranteed by some of these rare species, as identified by respondents in K. ivorensis and X. ethiopica, could also be utilized as incentives to the cultivation of the species.
The WEPs, like the previous observation of Kayode and Agude  have considerable advantages to the aboriginal communities in terms of ready availability, affordability even to the resource poor, effective with no side effects when used as medicine. The forest that has continued to serve as their major source of supply is being deforested wantonly. Kayode and Omotoyinbo  observed that the supply from the forest is no longer sustainable due to the unprecedented deforestation, increase use of fire in farm preparations and increase in land fragmentation in the study area. Similarly, harvesting methods utilized on these species are mostly predatory and annihilative .Thus the need to embark on both in-situ and ex-situ conservation measures on these species cannot be over-emphasized. These according to Shinwari and Khan will offer twin advantages of protecting the species in their natural habitats as well as the production of viable individuals for re-introduction to natural environment. Also, most of the species should be domesticated. The public should be enlightened on the dangers inherent in the genetic erosion of these species.
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