Invasive Species Compendium

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Abstract

Medicinal gardens in Yucatán: an alternative for the conservation of medicinal flora of the Maya.

Abstract

In Yucatan there is a wealth of knowledge about the use of medicinal plants, which are at risk because of the current processes of cultural and environmental degradation. This work reports on the establishment of community gardens, safeguarding both the knowledge that the Maya people have about medicinal plants and conserving plant genetic resources with medicinal uses. We established four medicinal plant gardens using participatory research methods. These gardens contain 206 species belonging to 170 genera of 66 botanical families; of the 206 species, 46 are exotic, 160 are native species of which 11 are endemic to the Yucatan Peninsula. These medicinal species are employed for treating 301 ailments. The categories with the highest number of uses are skin (68), gastrointestinal (59) and reproductive (33) problems. These categories of uses also included the greatest number of species: 82 for skin problems, 72 for gastrointestinal problems, and 35 species were reported for reproductive problems and for syndromes with a cultural affiliation. The species with the highest use value were Aloe vera (L.) Burm. f. (5.5), Ocimum campechianum Mill. (4.75), Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) A. Gray (4.75), Ruta chalepensis L. (4.5), Tradescantia spathacea Sw. (3.5), Parthenium hysterophorus L. (3.25), Chromolaena odorata (L.) R. M. King & H. Rob. (3.0) and Cissampelos pareira L. (3.0). Species with greatest use consistency were Tithonia diversifolia used for rheumatism (100%), and Diphysa carthagenensis Jacq. used for "mal de ojo" (100%); also we found 12 species with a use consistency of 75%. In the long term we expect to consolidate a network of medicinal plant gardens that contribute to safeguarding the knowledge about the use of medicinal plants, as well as medicinal plants of this region.