What is the role of exotic medicinal plants in local medical systems? A study from the perspective of utilitarian redundancy

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Abstract

Medicinal plants are an important aspect of local medical systems. The composition of a medicinal plant collection is influenced by cultural and environmental factors. Additionally, the functionality of a local medical system can be threatened by the replacement of native species with exotic ones, as well as by cultural factors such as the erosion of knowledge. The objectives of this study are: 1) examine the composition of the medicinal plant collection of two rural communities settled in the caatinga (savanna-like vegetation) of the state of Pernambuco (Brazil); 2) observe the role of exotic plants in the local medical systems; and 3) identify the profile of the species utilized according to the Utilitarian Redundancy Model. Similarities were observed between the medicinal floras of the communities studied, emphasizing the importance of the surrounding biome within the possibilities of species selection, although exotic species appear to contribute by increasing the diversity of species considered in the communities to be medicinal. The native species act broadly among the body systems recognized in the two communities, whereas exotic species act in specific body systems, for which there are few associated native species.

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Alencar, N. L., Santoro, F. R., & Albuquerque, U. P. (2014). What is the role of exotic medicinal plants in local medical systems? A study from the perspective of utilitarian redundancy. Brazilian Journal of Pharmacognosy, 24(5), 506–515. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjp.2014.09.003

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