Ethnobotanical assessment of Moringa oleiferaLam. in Southern Benin (West Africa).
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For decades, plant species, particularly those used as non-tree forest products (NTFPs), have been known to play an important role in the livelihood of local populations, particularly in rural Africa. The present study investigated the uses of various parts of Moringa oleifera Lam. in southern Benin. It aimed at capturing indigenous knowledge on the uses of M. oleiferaas a preliminary step toward future efforts to devise better management options of this plant species. An ethnobotanical survey was carried out in southern Benin (Guineo-Congolese zone) with a sample of 439 informants (201 women and 238 men) belonging to Fon, Waci, Xwla, Sahouè, Djerma, Kotafon, Aïzo, Goun, and Yoruba socio-cultural groups. It was found that M. oleiferais known in South Benin under different local names depending on the socio-cultural group. Leaves were the most used part followed by roots, bark, seeds, and pods. Leaves are eaten as a vegetable and also used for medicinal purposes. They are consumed fresh or dried and reduced to powder. Different parts of M. oleiferaare used to treat up to 34 diseases according to the local populations. Leaves are also used as fodder for pigs, sheep, and rabbits. The seeds are used to carry out rites for blessing and attracting customers. The study showed that M. oleifera plays an important role in rural areas of South Benin where it is used as a nutritional and medicinal plant. Local populations could benefit by further adoption of the species in agroforestry systems.