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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 959285, 18 pages
Research Article

Distribution and Transmission of Medicinal Plant Knowledge in the Andean Highlands: A Case Study from Peru and Bolivia

1Centre for Development and Environment, University of Bern, Hallerstrasse 10, 3012 Berne, Switzerland
2Institute of Economic Botany, The New York Botanical Garden, 2900 Southern Boulevard, Bronx, NY 10458, USA

Received 16 July 2011; Revised 7 September 2011; Accepted 7 September 2011

Academic Editor: Ulysses Paulino De Albuquerque

Copyright © 2012 Sarah-Lan Mathez-Stiefel and Ina Vandebroek. 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 paper presents a study of patterns in the distribution and transmission of medicinal plant knowledge in rural Andean communities in Peru and Bolivia. Interviews and freelisting exercises were conducted with 18 households at each study site. The amount of medicinal plant knowledge of households was compared in relation to their socioeconomic characteristics. Cluster analysis was applied to identify households that possessed similar knowledge. The different modes of knowledge transmission were also assessed. Our study shows that while the amount of plant knowledge is determined by individual motivation and experience, the type of knowledge is influenced by the community of residence, age, migratory activity, and market integration. Plant knowledge was equally transmitted vertically and horizontally, which indicates that it is first acquired within the family but then undergoes transformations as a result of subsequent contacts with other knowledge sources, including age peers.