Analyzing factors that influence the folk use and phytonomy of 18 medicinal plants in Navarra
Materias Investigacion::Ciencias de la vida::Botánica
Issue Date: 
BioMed Central
Akerreta S, Cavero RY, Lopez V, Calvo MI. Analyzing factors that influence the folk use and phytonomy of 18 medicinal plants in Navarra. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2007 Apr 13;3:16.
Background: This article analyzes whether the distribution or area of use of 18 medicinal plants is influenced by ecological and cultural factors which might account for their traditional use and/or phytonymy in Navarra. This discussion may be helpful for comparative studies, touching as it does on other ethnopharmacological issues: a) which cultural and ecological factors affect the selection of medicinal plants; b) substitutions of medicinal plants in popular medicine; c) the relation between local nomenclature and uses. To analyze these questions, this paper presents an example of a species used for digestive disorders (tea and camomile: Jasonia glutinosa, J. tuberosa, Sideritis hyssopifolia, Bidens aurea, Chamaemelum nobile, Santolina chamaecyparissus...), high blood pressure (Rhamnus alaternus, Olea europaea...) or skin diseases (Hylotelephium maximum, H. telephium, Anagallis arvensis, A. foemina). Methods: Fieldwork began on January 2004 and continued until December 2006. During that time we interviewed 505 informants in 218 locations in Navarra. Information was collected using semi-structured ethnobotanical interviews, and we subsequently made maps using Arc-View 8.0 program to determine the area of use of each taxon. Each map was then compared with the bioclimatic and linguistic map of Navarra, using the soil and ethnographic data for the region, and with other ethnobotanical and ethnopharmacological studies carried out in Europe. Results: The results clearly show that ecological and cultural factors influence the selection of medicinal plants in this region. Climate and substrate are the most important ecological factors that influence the distribution and abundance of plants, which are the biological factors that affect medicinal plant selection. Conclusion: The study of edaphological and climatological factors, on the one hand, and culture, on the other, can help us to understand why a plant is replaced by another one for the same purposes, either in the same or in a different area. In many cases, the cultural factor means that the use of a species is more widespread than its ecological distribution. This may also explain the presence of synonyms and polysemies which are useful for discussing ethnopharmacological data.

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