Factors affecting ethnobotanical knowledge in a mestizo community of the Sierra de Huautla Biosphere Reserve, Mexico

Leonardo Beltrán-Rodríguez, Amanda Ortiz-Sánchez, Nestor A. Mariano, Belinda Maldonado-Almanza, Victoria Reyes-García

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45 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Worldwide, mestizo communities's ethnobotanical knowledge has been poorly studied. Based on a mestizo group in Mexico, this study assesses a) the use value (UV) of the local flora, b) gendered differences in plant species, and c) the association between socio-economic variables and ethnobotanical knowledge.Methods: To assess the degree of knowledge of plant resources, we conducted 41 interviews collecting information on knowledge of local plant resources and the socio-economic situation of the informant. We also collected free listings of useful plants by category of use to identify the UV of each species. With the support of key informants, we photographed and collected the plant material recorded during the interviews and free listings on five different habitats. Paired t-tests and a Wilcoxon signed rank test were used to determine differences in the number of species known by men and women. Differences in distribution were analyzed by means of the Shapiro-Wilk's W normality tests. To determine the association of socio-economic factors and ethnobotanical knowledge, we used a non-metric multidimensional scaling analysis (NMDS).Results: Informants listed 185 species. Medicinal plants constituted the most diverse group (90 species). Tropical deciduous forest is the habitat that concentrates the highest proportion of plant resources (80 species). The use-values were classified into three groups: A (4-6 UV; three species), B (0.35-1.37 UV; 39 species) and C (0-0.29 UV; 143 species). High-quality wood species and those associated to religious ceremonies had the highest UV. Women's and men's knowledge of plant species showed statistically significant differences at the interspecific and the intracategorical levels (Student's test, T15 = 4.8, p < 0.001). Occupation, gender and age were statistically significant associated to ethnobotanical knowledge (p < 0.05), whereas income, education level, and place of origin were not.Conclusion: This research improves our understanding of the socio-economic activities associated with the intracultural distribution of ethnobotanical knowledge among mestizo Mexican communities. It also provides information on plant resources and habitats and how local peasants value them. This information could help in the development of proposals to improve biocultural conservation and strengthen traditional knowledge systems for effective forest management. © 2014 Beltrán-Rodríguez et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalJournal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2014


  • Ethnobotanical knowledge
  • Mestizo community
  • Mexico
  • Socio-economic variables
  • Useful plants


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