African Journal of
Plant Science

  • Abbreviation: Afr. J. Plant Sci.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0824
  • DOI: 10.5897/AJPS
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 757

Full Length Research Paper

Ethnobotanical study of indigenous knowledge of plant-material culture in Masha and Yeki Districts, Southwest Ethiopia

Seada Yassin
  • Seada Yassin
  • Department of Biology, College of Natural Sciences, Jimma University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar
Balcha Abera*
  • Balcha Abera*
  • Department of Biology, College of Natural Sciences, Jimma University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar
Ensermu Kelbessa
  • Ensermu Kelbessa
  • The Ethiopian National Herbarium (ETH), Department of Plant Biology and Biodiversity Management, College of Natural Sciences, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia.
  • Google Scholar

  •  Received: 03 November 2014
  •  Accepted: 28 January 2015
  •  Published: 28 February 2015


Plants have been used throughout human history as a source of food, medicine and material culture. Several studies on plant material culture from Ethiopia, were limited to a certain geographical areas and ethnic groups. The purpose of this study was, therefore, to investigate the plants and associated indigenous knowledge of three ethnic groups (Shekacho, Sheko and Mejengir), residing in the Masha and Yeki Districts of Sheka Zone, southwest Ethiopia. A total of 80 informants between the ages of 20 and 80 were selected by the help of local administrators and knowledgeable elders. Ethnobotanical data were collected through semi-structured interview, guided-field-walk and field observation. Simple statistical methods such as percentage, ranking and comparison were applied for data analysis. A total of 113 plant species distributed in 91 genera from 48 botanical families were reported by informants of three ethnic groups used in making plant-based material culture. Of the 19 use categories recorded, the highest (69; 49.3%) were reported by Shekacho followed by Mejengir (38; 27.1%), and Sheko (33; 23.6%) ethnic groups. Preference ranking and direct matrix exercises on selected plants used for construction and as multipurpose indicated the highest preference of people for Arundinaria alpina and Cordia africana followed by Ficus ovata, Baphia abyssinica and Cyathia manniana. According to priority ranking, agricultural expansion was identified as the most destructive factor of forest plants, followed by illegal wood harvest and construction. The current study recommends the establishment of plant material culture centre. Ex situ and in situ conservation measures should be taken in the study area for sustainable use of plant resources and preservation of indigenous knowledge.


Key words: Ethnobotany, preference ranking, direct matrix ranking, paired comparison, Ethiopia.