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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 679373, 15 pages
Research Article

Intracultural Variation in the Knowledge of Medicinal Plants in an Urban-Rural Community in the Atlantic Forest from Northeastern Brazil

1Laboratory of Applied Ethnobotany, Department of Biology, Federal Rural University of Pernambuco, Avenida Dom Manoel de Medeiros s/n, Dois Irmãos, 52171-900 Recife, PE, Brazil
2Natural Products Laboratory, Pharmacy Department, Federal University of Pernambuco, 50670-901 Recife, PE, Brazil
3Ethnozoology, Conservation and Biodiversity Research Group, Departamento de Biologia, Universidade Estadual da Paraíba, 58109-753 Campina Grande, PB, Brazil

Received 23 June 2011; Revised 17 August 2011; Accepted 23 August 2011

Academic Editor: Ana H. Ladio

Copyright © 2012 Cecília de Fátima Castelo Branco Rangel de Almeida et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This study assessed the intracultural knowledge of the use of medicinal plants in an urban-rural community in an Atlantic forest fragment in northeastern Brazil. We examined the importance of native and exotic species and the effects of gender and age on that knowledge. We also compared data obtained from different groups of informants (local experts and general community). We conducted 194 interviews between June 2007 and January 2008, using the freelist technique and semistructured forms to collect ethnobotanical data. Information obtained from the community was compared with that from six local experts who participated in a survey in 2003. From a total of 209 ethnospecies, exotic and herbaceous plants presented higher richness. With respect to the number of citations, women and older informants were shown to know a higher number of medicinal plants. Comparing knowledge of local experts with that of the general community, we noted that experts know a similar wealth of plant families and therapeutic indications, but the community knows a greater species richness. These results indicate that local experts may provide useful information for studies that search for a quick diagnosis of the knowledge of a given community.