Ethnobotanical study on medicinal plants used by Li people in Ledong, Hainan Island, China

Weijuan Huang, Ping Li, Yujing Liu, Wen Huang, Yan Ju, Jianjun Wang, Chia B. Ntumwel, Chunlin Long


The paper documents on the uses of traditional medicinal plants used for treating human ailments in three villages of Ledong, a county inhabited by Li ethnic group in the southwest of Hainan Province, China. Semi-structured interviews, key informant interviews and participatory observations were used to collect ethnobotanical data from February to March 2012 and in July 2013. The data collected was analyzed using descriptive statistics. Thirty native knowledgeable people were interviewed. The Li community uses 50 plant species in 36 families for medicinal purposes. The most common medicinal plant families were Leguminosae (14%), Compositae (6%), and Euphorbiaceae (6%), and the most common preparations methods were decoction (84%), crushing (38%), and poultice (34%). The traditional medicinal plants were mainly used for hemostasis (12.9%), body pains (11.4%), gastrointestinal disorders (11.4%), and trauma (10%). Twenty-four species of medicinal plants (48%) have never been reported in the literature of Li medicines. In addition, 22 species (44%) have already been studied by researchers and their extracts or compounds were good bio-actives. However, the rapid socio-economic development in the county is the main threat to the conservation of Li medicine and has resulted in the decrease in the abundance and use of medicinal plants and associated traditional knowledge. Other factors accounting for a decrease in the use of Li medicinal plants like loss of plant diversity, change of land use, and threatened traditional knowledge were equally discussed.


ethnobotany; traditional knowledge; ethnomedicine; Li ethnic group; medicinal plants

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