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A forgotten collection: the Libyan ethnobotanical exhibits (1912-14) by A. Trotter at the Museum O. Comes at the University Federico II in Naples, Italy.

De Natale A, Pollio A - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2012)

Bottom Line: Generally, the aerial parts of the plants are the most frequently used (28 species), followed by leaves (15 species), flowers and seeds (9 species), fruits (7 species) and hypogean organs (roots, rhizomes, tubers: 5 species).The comparison with the recent ethnopharmacological research in Maghreb and its neighboring countries reveals a high correspondence; almost all the plants cited by Trotter are still used in the folk medicine of at least one of the North African countries, and the therapeutic uses of each plant appear consistent over time.The information collected by Trotter is an important contribution to tracing plant utilization in Libyan folk medicine over the last century.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Soil, Plant, Environmental and Animal Production Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Via Università, 100, 80055 Portici, NA, Italy. denatale@unina.it

ABSTRACT

Background: The Ethnobotanical Collection from the Libyan territories of the botanist Alessandro Trotter is included in the Oratio Comes Botanical Museum at the Faculty of Agraria at the University Federico II in Naples. Trotter explored different territories of Libya, mainly Tripolitania, between 1912-1924, collecting plant specimens and the drugs most frequently sold in the markets. The Libyan herbarium currently includes over 2300 sheets of mounted and accessioned plants. The drugs, mostly acquired by Trotter from Tripolitanian markets, were identified and packed in 87 paper sheets or boxes. Trotter added ethnobotanical information for each species when available.

Methods: A database of the herbarium species and the drugs has been carried out, after a taxonomic update. Nomenclature has been revised according to the African flowering plants database and the World Checklist of selected plant families, and a comparison with currently available ethnopharmacological data from North African has been attempted.

Results: In this study, ethnopharmacological data related to about 80 species of flowering plants and to 4 lichens are presented. The plants are mainly from Mediterranean or Sub-Saharan habitats and belong to 37 different families; Lamiaceae was the most cited family, with 10 accessions. Generally, the aerial parts of the plants are the most frequently used (28 species), followed by leaves (15 species), flowers and seeds (9 species), fruits (7 species) and hypogean organs (roots, rhizomes, tubers: 5 species). Plants were generally processed in very simple ways: infusion or decoction of the plants were prepared and orally administered or used for topical applications. A wide range of conditions was treated, ranging from mental disorders to skin affections. All the organs of human body are considered, but the pathologies of gastro-intestinal tract, respiratory system and those related to traumatic accidents were the most frequently mentioned. The comparison with the recent ethnopharmacological research in Maghreb and its neighboring countries reveals a high correspondence; almost all the plants cited by Trotter are still used in the folk medicine of at least one of the North African countries, and the therapeutic uses of each plant appear consistent over time.

Conclusions: The information collected by Trotter is an important contribution to tracing plant utilization in Libyan folk medicine over the last century.

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Clay (PORUN - TTD77), Tripolitania Trotter collection Drug section.
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Figure 8: Clay (PORUN - TTD77), Tripolitania Trotter collection Drug section.

Mentions: Overall, 75 plants (including the four lichens previously mentioned) were also collected as drugs by Trotter; 30 of these had medicinal properties. Two mineral samples (antimony and clay) were also held in the drug collection (Figure 7 and 8); they were used in topical wound treatment by numerous ancient and primitive societies [51]. The drugs were mainly sold in the Tripoli market, but also in local markets spread along Tripolitania. Libya is located in the middle of Mediterranean and was an important crossroad for trade in ancient times. The Libyan towns established commercial relationships with countries of all three continents, Africa, Asia and Europe. The town of Cyrene was a prime center for the export of the medicinal herb called silphium, one of the essential commodities of the Mediterranean region in classical era [52]. A late echo of the ancient flourishing trades was still present in the drugs found by Trotter at the beginning of the 20th century. He collected drugs that are, to a large extent, of Mediterranean origin, and are currently traded in Mediterranean region. Drugs from herbs such as Ajuga iva or Artemisia arborescens or those belonging to the genera of Lamiaceae, listed in Table 1, are commonly found in the markets along the Mediterranean, from Moroccan bazaars [44] to the herbal shops of Turkey [40] and Greece [53]. In contrast, some drugs were of Asiatic provenance, such as Alpinia officinarum [54] and Piper retrofractum [55], whereas others, such as Tanacethum parthenium, came mainly from Europe [56], suggesting that the ancient trade routes from Asia and Europe to North Africa were still being used a century ago. Few drugs were produced from indigenous plants; perhaps the most interesting case is that of Ferula marmarica, a plant native to some Libyan regions [34], which was used in classical times to produce the ammoniac gum [35], to which Dioscorides attributed relevant therapeutic roles ranging from anti-inflammatory to digestive and painkiller [57].


A forgotten collection: the Libyan ethnobotanical exhibits (1912-14) by A. Trotter at the Museum O. Comes at the University Federico II in Naples, Italy.

De Natale A, Pollio A - J Ethnobiol Ethnomed (2012)

Clay (PORUN - TTD77), Tripolitania Trotter collection Drug section.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3295647&req=5

Figure 8: Clay (PORUN - TTD77), Tripolitania Trotter collection Drug section.
Mentions: Overall, 75 plants (including the four lichens previously mentioned) were also collected as drugs by Trotter; 30 of these had medicinal properties. Two mineral samples (antimony and clay) were also held in the drug collection (Figure 7 and 8); they were used in topical wound treatment by numerous ancient and primitive societies [51]. The drugs were mainly sold in the Tripoli market, but also in local markets spread along Tripolitania. Libya is located in the middle of Mediterranean and was an important crossroad for trade in ancient times. The Libyan towns established commercial relationships with countries of all three continents, Africa, Asia and Europe. The town of Cyrene was a prime center for the export of the medicinal herb called silphium, one of the essential commodities of the Mediterranean region in classical era [52]. A late echo of the ancient flourishing trades was still present in the drugs found by Trotter at the beginning of the 20th century. He collected drugs that are, to a large extent, of Mediterranean origin, and are currently traded in Mediterranean region. Drugs from herbs such as Ajuga iva or Artemisia arborescens or those belonging to the genera of Lamiaceae, listed in Table 1, are commonly found in the markets along the Mediterranean, from Moroccan bazaars [44] to the herbal shops of Turkey [40] and Greece [53]. In contrast, some drugs were of Asiatic provenance, such as Alpinia officinarum [54] and Piper retrofractum [55], whereas others, such as Tanacethum parthenium, came mainly from Europe [56], suggesting that the ancient trade routes from Asia and Europe to North Africa were still being used a century ago. Few drugs were produced from indigenous plants; perhaps the most interesting case is that of Ferula marmarica, a plant native to some Libyan regions [34], which was used in classical times to produce the ammoniac gum [35], to which Dioscorides attributed relevant therapeutic roles ranging from anti-inflammatory to digestive and painkiller [57].

Bottom Line: Generally, the aerial parts of the plants are the most frequently used (28 species), followed by leaves (15 species), flowers and seeds (9 species), fruits (7 species) and hypogean organs (roots, rhizomes, tubers: 5 species).The comparison with the recent ethnopharmacological research in Maghreb and its neighboring countries reveals a high correspondence; almost all the plants cited by Trotter are still used in the folk medicine of at least one of the North African countries, and the therapeutic uses of each plant appear consistent over time.The information collected by Trotter is an important contribution to tracing plant utilization in Libyan folk medicine over the last century.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Department of Soil, Plant, Environmental and Animal Production Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Via Università, 100, 80055 Portici, NA, Italy. denatale@unina.it

ABSTRACT

Background: The Ethnobotanical Collection from the Libyan territories of the botanist Alessandro Trotter is included in the Oratio Comes Botanical Museum at the Faculty of Agraria at the University Federico II in Naples. Trotter explored different territories of Libya, mainly Tripolitania, between 1912-1924, collecting plant specimens and the drugs most frequently sold in the markets. The Libyan herbarium currently includes over 2300 sheets of mounted and accessioned plants. The drugs, mostly acquired by Trotter from Tripolitanian markets, were identified and packed in 87 paper sheets or boxes. Trotter added ethnobotanical information for each species when available.

Methods: A database of the herbarium species and the drugs has been carried out, after a taxonomic update. Nomenclature has been revised according to the African flowering plants database and the World Checklist of selected plant families, and a comparison with currently available ethnopharmacological data from North African has been attempted.

Results: In this study, ethnopharmacological data related to about 80 species of flowering plants and to 4 lichens are presented. The plants are mainly from Mediterranean or Sub-Saharan habitats and belong to 37 different families; Lamiaceae was the most cited family, with 10 accessions. Generally, the aerial parts of the plants are the most frequently used (28 species), followed by leaves (15 species), flowers and seeds (9 species), fruits (7 species) and hypogean organs (roots, rhizomes, tubers: 5 species). Plants were generally processed in very simple ways: infusion or decoction of the plants were prepared and orally administered or used for topical applications. A wide range of conditions was treated, ranging from mental disorders to skin affections. All the organs of human body are considered, but the pathologies of gastro-intestinal tract, respiratory system and those related to traumatic accidents were the most frequently mentioned. The comparison with the recent ethnopharmacological research in Maghreb and its neighboring countries reveals a high correspondence; almost all the plants cited by Trotter are still used in the folk medicine of at least one of the North African countries, and the therapeutic uses of each plant appear consistent over time.

Conclusions: The information collected by Trotter is an important contribution to tracing plant utilization in Libyan folk medicine over the last century.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus