Ehnobotanical Leaflets 13: 1409-1416. 2009.
Ethnobotanical Survey of Medicinal Plants in West Kordofan (Western Sudan)
I.G. Doka and S. M. Yagi*
Department of Botany, Faculty of Science, University of Khartoum, P.O. Box 321, Khartoum. Sudan
*Corresponding author E-mail address:
Issued 01 November 2009
The aim of the present study was primarily to evaluate the medicinal uses of the plants known to some western Kordofan tribes and to encourage preservation of their culture, conservation and sustainable utilization of the plant wealth. The present study revealed a record of 49 plant species belonging to 26 families which are used in the folk medicine of West Kordofan, Sudan. It is believed to be a form of healthcare in many aspects of curing practices. The plants were arranged alphabetically by their family name followed by species name, local name, parts used, mode of preparation and medicinal uses. This wisdom available with the tribes is transmitted only through oral communication therefore needs conservation.
Key words: Medicinal plants; Ethnobotany; West Kordofan.
Western Kordofan, an area in Sudan, is located between latitude 270 E and 300 E. Climatically, it is characterized by a long dry period (October-May) and a shorter period of precipitation (June-September). The average annual rainfall ranges for 400 mm in the Northern part to 800 mm in the Southern part. An average maximum temperature of 42 C reached during summer and falls to about 25 C in winter (El Sammani, 1985). The main constituent of vegetation is of the grass woodland savannah type (El Amin, 1990).
The population of this area is 768 000 inhabitants, 154 000 of whom are urban sedentary and 70 000 nomads, spending the dry season in the southern of the Sudan and migrating to the north with advent of the rainy season. The Department of Medicinal and Aromatic Plants at the National Centre for Research in Sudan has drawn an urgent short term objective to issue an atlas of medicinal plants used in Sudanese folk medicine (El Ghazali, 1987; El Ghazali et al., 1994; El Ghazali et al., 1997; El Ghazali, 1998; El Ghazali et al., 2003). Ethnobotanically, Western Kordofan area remains unexplored and no comprehensive account of traditional local remedies is available. The only work existing for a few areas of this region is compiled by EL-Ghazali et al., 1997 and. EL-Kamali, 2009.
The purpose of the present study was to document the indigenous medicinal plants used by the locals of West Kordofan with emphasis on those have never been described in the ethnobotanical literature of Sudan or with new therapeutic uses. The scant knowledge concerning medicinal plants prompted investigation on intensive search of systematic study to better understanding of traditional healing.
Materials and Methods
The current ethnopharmacological survey was conducted among 31 local practitioners in different regions of West Kordofan Area, included Babanusa, Muglad, Rigl EL Fula, Lagawa, EI Meiram. EI Tubn, EI Odaya, Ed Dibah, Abu EI Kiri, Namatein, Nama, Dambloya, Tundy, Bajaj and Umm Jack (Fig.1). The choice of the individual informant to be interviewed was of fundamental importance to the reliability of the gathered information. We only selected practitioners who utilized medicinal plants as part or all of their therapeutic activity, and who were regarded as professional. Questions addressed to the informants were mainly focused on local names, ailments and diseases treated, therapeutic part(s) of plants used and methods of preparation. A therapeutically efficacious effect was accepted if use is mentioned by at least three different informants.
Botanical specimens of recorded plants were collected and materials were mounted on herbarium sheet, and then deposited in the Herbarium of Botany Department, Faculty of Science, University of Khartoum. Identification was determined using the available relevant African Flora with special attention to scientific publications of Sudan and neighbouring countries (El Amin, 1990; Andrews, 1950, 1952, 1956; Berge and Hijam Maria, 1898; Broun and Massey, 1929; Hutchinson and Dalziel, 1968; Maydell, 1990; Ross, 1975) and by means of a comparison with herbarium specimens conserved in the Herbaria of Botany Department and that of Soba Forests Research Centre.
Results and Discussion
Information obtained from the analysis including the folk therapeutical data was compared with those of the atlas of medicinal plants used in Sudanese folk medicine. 49 plant species belong to 26 families was reported with further emphasis on their vernacular names, popular uses, parts used and methods of preparation. These plant species were arranged alphabetically by their families and botanical names (Table 1).
The plants listed in Table 1 include remedies for treating skin diseases, digestive system diseases, urinary and the respiratory systems diseases and antidotes for treatment of scorpion and snake strokes. Also, species like Mitragyna inermis (bark), Balanites aegyptiaca (leaves) and Terminalia laxiflora (bark) were used for the treatment of malaria. However, for some species, there is evidence in the literature that the mode of application being practised by the local people is likely to be effective. For example, in the traditional medicine, the bark powder of Albizzia anthelmintica is used as anthelmintic which coincides by the pharmacological validation of Galal et al., 1991a and b) and Koko (2000). The prevalence of numerous endemic diseases, malnutrition, poverty and increasing cost of personal healthcare emphasizes the role played by folklore medicine as revealed by the study conducted in Western Kordofan.
Moreover, we observed that, knowledge of medicinal plant use among the young was less well developed and negatively correlated with the level of informant education. Our observation suggests that the educated, usually younger people tend to migrate to more lucrative jobs away from the villages. As western Kordofan traditional medical knowledge is orally passed down via lifestyle, it is important to exhaustively document and publicize medicinal plant knowledge within the young generation to raise awareness of and appreciation for their traditional values and for the conservation and sustainable use of the plants as well as to keep the traditional medical knowledge left in their community alive.
In this context, it may be important that personal contacts with natural areas not only provide learning opportunities but also motivate people to protect their environment; thus, the natural setting seems to be central to the acquisition of traditional plant knowledge. In conclusion, folklore medicine in Western Kordofan may constitute an important component of the health care system. However, more than 30% of these species are endangered species. This calls for efforts for the protection and conservation of these species. Further, the claimed therapeutical values of the reported species call for thorough investigation and modern scientific studies to establish their safety and identify the active ingredients.
We appreciate Dr El Sheikh Abd Alla El Sheikh, Soba Forests Research Centre, for his help and interest in this study.
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Fig. 1. Location map of Western Kordofan, Sudan
Table 1: Medicinal plants used in West Kordofan.