Non-Crop Edible Plants and Medicinal Plants in Homegarden Agroforestry System of Palakkad District, Kerala

u. M. Chandrashekara, V. M. Thasini


In a farming system, the non-cultivated plants may be wild or managed plants and often they are the source of food, medicine, fodder etc. However, very few works have focused on understanding distribution, diversity, collection and management practices and uses of non-crop plants. Thus a study was conducted to collect, identify, categorize and analyze the distribution pattern of non-crop edible and medicinal plants in homegarden agroforestry system of Palakkad District in Kerala State. A total of 97 non-crop edible and medicinal plant species belonging to 40 families were recorded from 160 homegardens of the District. Among these 97 species, 22 were non-crop edible species, 59 were non-crop medicinal plants and the remaining 16 species were non-crop both edible and medicinal plants. In order to determine the importance of a given species in terms of its distribution pattern and its level of usage and management in homegardens, a new Index has been developed and named as the Index of Species Occurrence, Usage and Management (ISOUM). Among the 97 species, Ocimum tenuiflorum, Aerva lanata and  Scoparia dulcis are the first three important non-crop plant species in terms of their distribution, uses and management regimes.  The study also demonstrated the fact that even though the homegardeners of Palakkad have better knowledge on the uses of non-crop edible and medicinal plants majority of species are not being put into use. The non-crop edible and medicinal plant diversity has the potential for maintaining optimal combination of ecological and productive features and for contributing to ensure food and health security in homegardens and rural landscapes. Thus, the need of integrated efforts to promote interchange of local experiences among rural communities about use and management techniques and cultural values of non-crop plants are highlighted.


Food Security; Health Security; Index of Species Occurrence Usage and Management; Land-use Pattern


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