Ethnobotanical Leaflets 12: 713-18. 2008.

 

 

Ethnobotanical Applications of some Floral Species in Bayelsa State, Nigeria

 

*Gordian Chibuzo Obute and Ekiye, Ebiare

 

          Department of Plant Science & Biotechnology

University of Port Harcourt

Port Harcourt, Nigeria

*E-mail: goddie_chi@yahoo.com

 

Issued 12 September 2008

 

ABSTRACT

The focal point of this study was documentation of indigenous uses/knowledge of the thinning populations of the valuable flora in parts of the Niger Delta. Forty-Eight plant species belonging to twenty-four taxonomic families were found to have various ethnobotanical applications among the indigenous people of Bayelsa State.  Some of these still enter the local economy through the services provided by the products. Harvesting of flora for these purposes was observed to be unsustainable because of lack or presence of weak institutional and legal framework and enforcement for sustainability. This study also highlights the implications of forest fragmentation and over harvesting leading to depletion of vegetation resource base and consequently the loss of the knowledge about useful species along with their ethnobotanical applications.

 

INTRODUCTION

Ethnobotany -- the interface between indigenous people and their use of plants around them is a significant facet of “Biological Diversity” consideration. Defined as the variety of life on earth, encompassing the plants, animals and microorganisms and the ecological complexes which they are part of; biodiversity conservation has become a topical global issue.  From prehistoric times, human existed by gathering fruits, seeds, leaves and roots of plants, and hunted animals that eventually depend on plants for their existence. Other needs afforded humans by plants include shelter, clothing, medicines, aesthetics, craft etc. Indeed plant and plant products remain the primary base upon which all modern civilization was built. Bayelsa State bestrides much of Africa’s largest wetland and Nigeria’s thriving petroleum business but has no formalized properly managed forest or wood industry. Even so, much of the timber from these parts services a huge proportion of the global wood needs via the Western axis of Nigeria. Pressures from environmental degradation, forest fragmentation, and unsustainable arable land use, urbanization and industrialization (Obute and Osuji, 2002; Obute 2005; Ayodele, 2005) are fast depleting much of Nigeria’s tropical rain forests and are thus reducing the biodiversity of the country.  Apart from this, several non-timber forest products (NTFPs) from the state informally service a wide range of clientele, local and abroad. For instance, the indigenous people in Sagbama area of Bayelsa State collect many wild plants or plant parts and process these into various products. Potential ethnomedicinal or other ethnobotanical uses of some of these plants are largely yet to be discovered and documented. In the recent past there has been renewed interest in sustainable management of natural resources like plants (Cunningham, 1994). Although the economic value of some trees (Cunningham, et al,. 2002) attract attention to them, the best of documented interest in people and plants is largely for plants with medicinal value (Gill, 1988; Cunningham, 1994;; Ndukwu and Nwadibia, 2003; Ayodele, 2005; Obute, 2005). In the current use of plant resources, Obute (2005) noted that the overexploitation of wild populations and lack of conservation programmes are two interlocking problems dealing with sustainable management of plant resources especially in the southern parts of Nigeria. This study is aimed at providing data on the application of some flora of Bayelsa State by the aborigines to solve economic, recreational, medicinal, construction and sundry needs. The effort is another contribution to the documentation and provision of records of indigenous knowledge, use and conservation of these plants.

 

GEO-CLIMATIC DESCRIPTION OF BAYELSA STATE

Sagbama area of Bayelsa State located in the southern butt of Nigeria in the deltaic spread of the River Niger in West Africa. It has a tropical climate with high rainfall levels ranging between 2,000 – 4,000mm per annum. The terrain elevation is about 6 – 15m above sea level and most parts are flooded most part of the year. The soil type is the alluvial deposit type and is thus rich with organic matter for luxuriant growth of flora. It is a high biodiversity value area resulting from the diverse plant groups, which concomitantly attracts other mobile life forms.

 

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Field trips were undertaken to different villages and local government areas in Bayelsa State such as; Patani, Adagbabiri, Ogboloma, Kpetiama and Sagbama, Ekeremo, Brass, Yenagoa, and Ogbia Local Government Areas. Structured oral interviews administered to the folks directly involved in the use of forest products.

Pictures were also taken showing standing trees, felled trees, stumps, logs, sawed planks and finished products and the indigenous plants which were observed during these field trips were identified with the aid of Floras (Dalziel, 1937; Hutchinson and Dalziel, 1958), manuals (Keay, 1989) and Herbarium specimens in the University of Port Harcourt were employed in identification of not so easily identified species. Voucher specimens of these are deposited n the UPH-Herbarium.

 

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

The investigation revealed that a total of 48 species, distributed into different and some similar genera and 24 unrelated angiosperm families are used for a wide range of applications in Bayelsa State, Nigeria. In utilizing these plants several activities that are a bane to conservation of species are carried out howbeit, through ignorance rather than by design. Below in Table 1 are highlights of some the uses to which some plants are put in this part of the world.

 

Table 1. Checklist of floral species folk identification and uses in Bayelsa State

S/n

Botanical name

Family

Native name

Trade name

Parts used

Uses

1

Mammae africana

Guttiferae

Bolo

Okricapet

Trunk

Making canoes, sculptures, serves as timber

2

Symphonia globulifera

Guttiferae

Akololor or okilolo

Akololor

Trunk

Construction especially roofing, for furniture

3

Allablanckia floribunda

Guttiferae

Obobiobo

Black Akololor

Trunk

Construction and furniture making

4

Mitragyna ciliata

Rubiaceae

Baa

Abura

Trunk, fibres from trunk

Furniture, construction and mat weaving

5

Alstonia congensis

Apocynaceae

Kigbe

Egbu

Trunk

Build ships, decking, lintel work, furniture and construction

6

Alstonia boonei

Apocynaceae

Endoudou

Man-egbu

Trunk, stem

Making shoes i.e. Those with wooden sole

7

Ceiba petandra

Bombacaceae

Assessai

Cotton tree (akpu)

Trunk, leaves

Construction; lintel and concrete work. Leaves are edible

8

Piptadeniastrum africanum

Leguminosae: mimosoideae

Esiansia

Ekhimi

Trunk

Boat building

9

Lophira Alata

Ochnaceae

Kuru

Ironwood

Trunk

Railway slippers and electrical pole

11

Picanthus agolensis

Verbenaceae

Aboh

Akomu

Trunk

Ceiling work

13

Uapaca heudelotti

Euphorbiaceae

Edisin

Etewor

Trunk, stem

Door frames, picture frames and very fine firewood.

It is classified as hard wood, used in building boats and market stalls

14

Scottellia mimfiensis

Flacourtiaceae

Ewonor

Ironwood

Trunk

Building bridges and jetty

16

Combretodendron macrocapum

Lecythidaceae

Ozen

Owewe

 

 

17

Guarea cedrata

Meliaceae

Akurantin

Afara

 

Timber

18

Anophyxis klaineana

Rhizophoraceae

Aku

Ironwood

Trunk

Build ships

19

Endodesima calophylloides

Guttiferae

Bonasun

Ironwood

Trunk

Build market stalls

20

Garcinia kola

Guttiferae

Akan

Bitter kola

Trunk

 

23

Alchornea cordifolia

Euphorbiaceae

Epain

Epain

Stem

Very fine firewood

24

Elais guinensis

Palmae

Loo/Etuboi

Palm tree

Leaves, stalk

Brooms, roof of thatch houses

25

Irvingia gabonensis

Irvingiaceae

Ogbein (ogbono)

Bush mango

Trunk, stem

Roofing firewood

26

Raphia vinifera

Palmae

Kuruo

Raphia tree/bamboo

Stalk, trunk, leaves

Building thatch houses (both frame and roof ie. the leaves), yields palm wine from which local gin is obtained

27

Raphia mannii

Palmae/Arecaceae

Biyai

Banibo

Leaves, fibre

Fibre from the stalk is used in weaving mats, baskets, fans, pot stands, drink covers and other crafts

28

Bambusa vulgaris

 

Ekrai

Indian bamboo

Stem

For thatch houses, fence, as support for climbing plants, toothpick manufacture, other decorative items

29

Erasmopatha microcapa

Anacardiaceae

Dee

Cane rope

Stem

Cane furniture, baskets, Straight canes to discipline stubborn children (Apiu)

30

Lacosperma secumdiflora

Anacardiaceae

Boru

Cane rope

Stem

Same as above

31

Oncucallamus mannii

Anacardiaceae

Egba

Cane rope

Stem, thorns

Same as above, also has tiny thorns which are used as hooks in fishing nets

32

Nauclea dederrichii

Rubiaceae

Kiriwoso (land opepe)

Opepe

Trunk

Construction, door frames electric pole

33

Nauclea vanderguchtii

Rubiaceae

Ope (swamp opepe)

Opepe

Trunk

Timber, furniture, if not properly seasoned it produces powder

34

Staudtia stipitata

Myristicaceae

Abala/yowetin

Ichanu

Trunk

Making paddle

35

Vitex chrysocarpa

Verbenaceae

Buron

Land abural (black guarea)

Trunk

Hard wood for construction

36

Spondiatus preussii

Euphorbiaceae

Eginiyai

Live tree

Trunk

Pulp is extracted for paper

37

Chlorophora excelsa

Moraceae

Sibeyetin/olokpata

Iroko

Trunk

Furniture, export wood in the past

38

Khaya ivorensis

Meliaceae

kuu

Mahogany

Trunk

Furniture

39

Musanga cecropioides

Moraceae

Oforimofo (ukporwe)

Cork tree

Trunk, stem

Shoe heels and as floater

40

Diospyros mespiliformis

Ebenaceae

Ongblo

Ebony

Trunk

Timber; furniture and sculpture

41

Pterocarpus osun

Leguminosae: Papilionoideae

Eseletin

Caton wood (Bar wood)

Trunk

Construction

42

Newbouldia laevis

Bignoniaceae

Abode

Life tree

Whole tree

It never dies, it is used for boundary adjustment and in shrines

43

Psidium guajava

Myrtaceae

Guava

Guava

Trunk, stem

Handle in hoes and other farm instruments

44

Rhizophora sp.

Rhizophoraceae

Aka Duon Kemi

Chewing stick

Stem

To treat tooth ache and cleanse teeth

45

 

 

Oro Gbissa

Oro Gbissa

Whole plant

Weaving mat

46

Hevea brasiliensis

Euphorbiaceae

 

Rubber tree

Trunk, extract

Rubber is extracted for production of plastics etc

48

Rhizophora racemosa

Rhizophoraceae

Angalatin

Salt water tree

Salts and extracts

Tannins and salts are obtained for leather work

 

FOLK KNOWLEDGE OF THE FLORA AND GOVERNMENT CONTROL

The indigenous people of this area have a working folk taxonomy of the plants they have long been associated with. Plants could be identified by vernacular names with ease though the younger folk appear totally uninterested in the plant resources around. Some of the loggers interviewed revealed that the only touch with government officials is at the level where concession or permit is given a major logger who now dispenses portions to the lesser loggers.  Non-timber forest products are harvested by any who can since there are no limits. The general belief is that the resources can never run out since according to them the forests are so vast that it is unthinkable to finish its largesse. However, pressure from deforestation, bush burning, migrant farmers, industrialization and urbanization combine to yield a harvest of biodiversity depletion and loss. Pictorial highlights of the ethnobotanical uses of some plants from Bayelsa State are presented in the following plates:

 

 

Although synthetic products are competing with plant products to meet the needs of the people, the forests are still under enormous pressures fro anthropogenic activities that deplete forest resources. That some of the species have gone extinct was confirmed by the users themselves who bemoan the disappearance of certain types of plats used for several purposes.

 Acknowledgements.

The inputs made our interviewees, Chief Okolo B. (Chairman Trees for Nigeria), Mr. Pere Esuku, Chief. Fresh Esuku, Mrs. Margaret Esuku, Mr. Onyinke Kentebe, Chief and Daniel Onyinbrakemi are especially acknowledged.  

 

REFRENCES

Ayodele, A. E. 2005. The medicinally important leafy vegetables of southwestern Nigeria. Conservation of medicinally important leafy vegetables in Nigeria. http:/www.siu.edu/~ebl/leaflets/ayodele.htm

Cunningham, A.B. (1994). Integrating local plant habitat management. Biodiversity and Conservation. Pg. 104-115

 Cunningham, A.B., Ayuk, E. Franzel. S., Duguma, B. and Asanga, C. 2002.  An economic evaluation of medicinal tree cultivation: Prunus africana in Cameroon. Peoples and Plants Working Paper 10, UNESCO, Paris.

Dalziel, J.M. 1937. The Useful Plants of West Tropical Africa (Appendix to Flora of West Tropical Africa). Crown Agents for Oversea Government and Administration.

Gill, L.S. 1988. Ethnomedical uses of plants in Nigeria. Ibadan Univ Press 276. Pp

Hutchinson J. and Dalziel, J.M. 1954. Flora of West Tropical Africa Vol. 1. The Whitefriars Press.

Keay, R. W. J.  1989. Trees of Nigeria. Clarendon Press Oxford.

Ndukwu, B.C and Ben Nwadibia, N.B 2003. Studies on ethnomedicinal applications of condiments and spices in the Niger delta area of Nigeria. Ethnobotanical Leaflets. http://www.siu.edu/~/leaflets/ndikwu.htm

Obute, G.C. 2005. Ethnomedicinal Plant Resources of South eastern Nigeria. Ethnobotanical Leaflets. http://www.siu.edu/~ebl/leaflets/obute.htm