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Filling the gaps: ethnobotanical study of the Garrigues district, an arid zone in Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula)

AuthorsGras, Airy ; Vallès, Joan; Garnatje, Teresa
KeywordsArid zones
Food uses
Iberian Peninsula
Medicinal uses
Plant uses
Issue Date2020
PublisherBioMed Central
CitationJournal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 16(1): 34 (2020)
Abstract[Background]: This study has focused on the Garrigues district, one of the most arid regions in Catalonia (NE Iberian Peninsula), which, in general terms, has remained unexplored from the ethnobotanical point of view. This area, of 22,243 inhabitants, comprises 33 municipalities distributed across 1123.12 km2. The natural vegetation is dominated by holm oak forests and maquis called ‘garriga’, the latter giving its name to the district. During the last few decades, this landscape has been transformed by agricultural activities, nowadays in recession. The main aim of this work was to collect and analyse the ethnoflora of this area in order to fill a gap in the ethnobotanical knowledge in Catalonia.
[Methods]: The followed methodology was based on semi-structured interviews. The obtained data have been qualitatively and quantitatively analysed and compared with other available ones.
[Results]: Data were gathered from 68 interviews involving 101 informants, whose ages range from 24 to 94, the mean being 73.07. The number of taxa reported in this study was 420, belonging to 99 botanical families. The interviewed informants referred 4715 use reports (UR) of 346 useful taxa, 1741 (36.93) of them corresponding to medicinal uses, 1705 (36.16%) to food uses, and 1269 (26.91%) to other uses. This study has inventoried, apart from individual plant uses, 260 plant mixtures, of which 98 are medicinal and 162 food. In the present study, 849 vernacular names with 116 phonetic variants have been collected, as well, for 410 taxa. The informant consensus factor (FIC) obtained for our interviewees is 0.93, and the ethnobotanicity index is 23.47% for the studied area. Apart from plants belonging to the typical Catalan, Iberian or European ethnofloras, the present work contributes information on some plants from semiarid or arid regions, such as Artemisia herba-alba and Plantago albicans, much rarer in the ethnobotany of the quoted areas.
[Conclusions]: The results of this study reveal the persistence of ethnobotanical knowledge in the prospected area and the importance of filling the existing gaps in the ethnofloristic sampling of the Catalan territories. The almost complete dataset, now including some arid territories, will allow us to carry out a global analysis and to provide an accurate overview.
Publisher version (URL)https://doi.org/10.1186/s13002-020-00386-0
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