Ethnobotany in Holguín, Cuba: cultural and natural heritage to be preserved

Alena Reyes Fornet, Elena Balbina Fornet Hernández

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Introduction: Ethnobotany and ethnomedicine maintain and study the cultural and natural heritage as a part of people identity. At the same time, they return the subsequent knowledge as well-being and sustainability into societies.
Objective: Evaluate, to characterize the utilitarian values of the flora in Holguín, Cuba, and to search the conservation status of these plants.
Methods: Theoretical methods were used in order to analyze, determine the antecedents and processing the information. Empirical methods allowed the review and analysis of documentary and non-documentary sources. To search for articles, were queried the Scopus (, ISI Web of Knowledge (www. and Scirus (www.scirus. org) databases.
Results: Strictly ethnobotanical studies in this area are scarce and most of investigations have not been published in specialized journals. Ethnobotanical characterization has not been seen as a discipline with techniques and specific aims. However, this research revealed 564 species used for various purposes, 344 of them as medicinal. The Ministerio de Salud Pública de Cuba (Cuban Public Health Ministry: Minsap) approved for their use in pharmacies 41 of the found species. Some plants declared as medicinal are also toxic or poisonous (6 %). The most representative botanical families are Fabaceae, Euphorbiaceae, Malvaceae, Poaceae and Asteraceae. Plants are also used as ornamentals (26 %), apiculture (24 %) and timber (23 %). Of the plants found, 184 are threatened, 49 are invasive, from which 39 are medicinal.
Conclusions: Ethnobotanical and ethnomedical studies require multidisciplinary teams of biologists, doctors, social workers and project managers. There are constraints in socializing effectiveness of the research projects results. Designing applicable results, spreading and socializing, allows the reflection towards social responsibility to generate useful social and commercial outcomes. In this sense, ethnobotany is not the exception.

Keywords: ethnomedicine; medicinal plants; well-being; sustainability.