Tropical home-gardens are widely recognized as a repository of biodiversity of domesticated and wild plant, and animal species that need to be developed to meet livelihood needs and for purpose of their conservation. Despite being the oldest form of agroforestry, this system is still poorly studied and understood. This study investigates the pattern of indigenous and exotic flora in the home-gardens managed by urban dwellers in São Luis city, Maranhão, Brazil. Forty home-gardens were randomly selected from ten locations and studied for their species richness and diversity, floristic distribution and canopy structure. The species were categorized as exotic and indigenous to Brazil. The home-gardens were species-rich, with 186 plant species in total. Of the species recorded, 62% produced edible fruit and nut trees, 17% were food crops, 7.5% were condiments, 7.5% were of medicinal value and 6.4% were timber species. Nearly 60% of all species were indigenous. Differences in species composition determined differences in vertical canopy structure. The floristic composition and high abundance of indigenous and exotic species managed or retained in the home-gardens demonstrates high degree of biodiversity conserved by urban dwellers in São Luís.
Key words: Homegardens, canopy structure, floristic composition, São Luis.
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