Biotechnology and Molecular Biology Reviews

  • Abbreviation: Biotechnol. Mol. Biol. Rev.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1538-2273
  • DOI: 10.5897/BMBR
  • Start Year: 2006
  • Published Articles: 103


Biodiversity and conservation of medicinal and aromatic plants in Africa

Okigbo, R N.1*, Eme, U E. 2 and Ogbogu, S. 3
1,2Department of Botany, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria. 3Dpartment of Zoology,Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria.  
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 04 December 2008
  •  Published: 31 December 2008


Medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPS) represent a consistent part of the natural biodiversity endowment of many countries in Africa. The role and contributions of medicinal plants to healthcare, local economies, cultural integrity and ultimately the well-being of people, particularly the rural poor, have been increasingly acknowledged over the last decade. The demands of the majority of the populace for medicinal plants have been met by indiscriminate harvesting of spontaneous flora, including those in forests.  This has resulted in severe loss of habitat and genetic diversity.  The utilization of medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) as a source of fuel, building material, food, fodder, and fibre, in African countries has, however, led to a resurgence of natural product- based industries and pharmaceutical products. This had been spurred by the interests of the developed countries for traditional medicine and natural products. Furthermore, many African medicinal plants are well-known in the international markets, e.g. Ancistrocladus abbreivatus, a Cameroun plant with anti-HIV potential. Therefore, sustainable management and conservation of these endangered medicinal plant species are important not only because of their value as potential therapeutics, but also due to worldwide reliance on traditional medicinal plants for health. Effective conservation strategies for medicinal plant should take place within four main areas: in-situ andex-situ conservation, education and research. Saving Africa’s medicinal plant resources from extinction calls for intensive management and conservation, more research and increased level of public awareness about our vanishing heritage.


Key words: African, health care delivery, medicine, harvesting.