An insight into the cosmetic and medicinal importance of Ximenia americana (mumpeke) in South Angola is provided. In the years 2009 and 2010 a field investigation was carried out in four rural communities, in order to gather information on traditional uses of this species. Sixty-eight informants were interviewed and 71% reported the use of X. americana. A total of 210 citations were recorded for 13 different uses: 9 medicinal (84 citations), 3 cosmetic (125) and 1 veterinary (1). The most relevant use resulted to be direct application of the oil extracted from seeds as a cosmetic for body and hair care and as a medicinal remedy to prevent varicose veins. Minor medicinal and veterinary uses of leaves were also recorded. Quantitative analyses showed that the use of mumpeke oil both as a cosmetic and as a medical remedy is widely and homogenously distributed within the communities (UE = 1). The category 'cosmetic uses' showed also the higher use diversity index (UD = 0.59). No statistically significant difference emerged in the number of uses cited by the informants grouped either for gender or for age. Yet, when comparing the distribution of citations with Hurlbert’s PIE, women and >40 yrs informants showed a significantly higher use diversity. The distribution of knowledge among communities is also analyzed and discussed. Local traditional technique of oil extraction is described, based on direct observation in the investigated communities. Mumpeke oil is a potential economic resource for local communities and could provide important opportunities in increasing family income.
Key words: Angola, ethnobotany, ethnopharmacology, Ximenia americana, mumpeke,mumpeke oil, medicinal uses, cosmetic uses, quantitative analyses.
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