An Ethnobotanical investigation of traditional knowledge and uses of edible wild plants in the Umbria Region, Central Italy


  • Aldo Ranfa Civil and Envirnomental Engineering Department, Environment Laboratory - University of Perugia
  • Mara Bodesmo



Central Italy, Umbria region, edible wild plants, ethnobotanical knowledge, folk medicinal uses, taste perception


These days edible wild plants (EWPs) play a fundamental role in the Mediterranean diet, thanks to their content of mineral elements and bioactive compounds with proven benefits for human health. The present study aims to document ethnobotanical knowledge and uses of EWPs in Central Italy so that this knowledge will not be lost. During various nature fairs and exhibitions in Umbria three hundred subjects were interviewed face-to-face between March and May 2013-2015. The participants provided information on local plant names, where and when the plants were collected, part(s) used, categories used, folk medicinal uses, taste perception and other uses. The results were analyzed using two ethnobotanical indices: the Relative Frequency of Citation (RFC) and Relative Importance Index (RII). The 100 EWPs mentioned by the respondents belonged to 23 families, Asteraceae (33%), Brassicaceae (17%) and Lamiaceae (11%) being the most dominant. The part(s) used were leaves (49%), shoots (17%), flowers and inflorescences (10%). Fourteen food use categories were cited, of which boiled 31%, 28% raw, 12% in vegetable soups, 11% fried in fat, without or with beaten eggs. Twenty-seven plant species were also mentioned as having folk medicinal uses.