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Ethnobotany, Systematic Review and Field Mapping on Folkloric Medicinal Plants in the Zamboanga Peninsula, Mindanao, Philippines

Genelyn Gabrinez Madjos, Kay Piocnacia Ramos.


With the recent resurgence towards phytotherapy, ethnobotany played a crucial role. This study documents the ethnobotanical practices of the different ethnolinguistic groups in the Zamboanga Peninsula (ZamPen), Mindanao, Philippines, with a thorough systematic review and a defined field mapping. ZamPen is regarded as a center of floral diversity and, at the same time, rich in ethnic diversity. Eight (8) ethnolinguistic groups were purposively chosen as representatives from the five cities and three provinces of ZamPen. These are the Chavacano, Visayan, Tausug, Bajau, Sama, Yakan, Subanen, and Subanon. A total of 330 respondents are interviewed through a snowball sampling method, with at least 30 key informants per tribe. For the systematic review on ethnobotanical studies conducted in the Zamboanga Peninsula, four published articles were recorded. Results revealed two hundred eight (208) medicinal plant species belonging to 74 families utilized by the ethnolinguistic groups where Family Fabaceae is the most represented with 18 species. Among the different ethnolinguistic groups based on ethnobotanical studies and systematic reviews, the Visayans of Ipil and Siay, Zamboanga Sibugay, and the Subanens of Lapuyan, Zamboanga del Sur obtained the highest number of medicinal plant utilized (50 species in 32 families and 89 species in 41 families respectively). Among the 10 DOH-approved medicinal plants, Blumea balsamifera (sambong) of the Family Asteraceae is the most frequently utilized herbal plant among all ethnic tribes being studied. Leaves are the topmost utilized plant parts through the process of decoction. Physical relapse (bughat) is the commonly cited illness among locally-termed diseases. Field samplings attested the availability of medicinal plants as the second topmost health-seeking behavior of the key informants to ethnobotanical practices after having experienced its effectiveness. Literature reviews of the plantsÂ’ bioactivities and bioisolates validate its medicinal use, however, there are some which needs futher studies supporting its claim. Documentation of this traditional knowledge and practices provides a framework for future drug discovery, promotes culture preservation, and offers opportunities for community biodiversity management.

Key words: ethnobotany, snow-ball sampling, systematic review, Zamboanga Peninsula

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