Journal of
Medicinal Plants Research

  • Abbreviation: J. Med. Plants Res.
  • Language: English
  • ISSN: 1996-0875
  • DOI: 10.5897/JMPR
  • Start Year: 2007
  • Published Articles: 3812

Full Length Research Paper

A preliminary study of Nicaraguan and Costa Rican medicinal plant knowledge in the Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge

Daniela Joy Shebitz*, Roberto Gomez and Ashley Casimir    
School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Kean University, 1000 Morris Ave. Union, NJ 07083, USA.    
Email: [email protected]

  •  Accepted: 31 October 2012
  •  Published: 03 April 2013


The tropical wet lowland forests of the newly established Maquenque National Wildlife Refuge (MNWLR) in the Northern Zone of Costa Rica provide habitat to numerous medicinal plants, yet few have been documented in the region. By virtue of its proximity to the border, this biologically diverse area has a blend of Nicaraguan and Costa Rican cultures.  The objectives of this research were: (1) to document the commonly used medicinal plant species in the Maquenque region based on local knowledge and (2) to begin to understand the knowledge gained from Nicaraguan immigration into this remote section of Costa Rica. Semi-structured interviews and field visits with key informants were conducted. Interviews were conducted with two men who immigrated to the Northern Zone of Costa Rica from Nicaragua and five people (two women, three men) who were born in Costa Rica and live in the MNWLR area. This paper presents 60 species discussed in interviews and the uses and preparations of these plants that were shared. The most commonly cited ailment treated through plants was gastrointestinal problems. The plants most commonly referenced were Origanum vulgare (oregano), Morinda citrifolia (noni), andPsidium guajava (guava). This work lays a foundation for future ethnographic and ecological research in the MNWLR.


Key words: Costa Rica, Maquenque, key informants, local knowledge.