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Revista mexicana de ciencias agrícolas

versión impresa ISSN 2007-0934

Rev. Mex. Cienc. Agríc vol.7 spe 14 Texcoco feb./mar. 2016



Useful Flora in the Ejido Sinaloa 1st section, Cárdenas, Tabasco, Mexico

Ángel Sol Sánchez1  § 

Erika Gómez García1 

Eustolia García López1 

Arturo Pérez Vázquez2 

1Colegio de Postgraduados-Campus Tabasco. Periférico Carlos A. Molina. Carretera Cárdenas-Huimanguillo, km 3, Tabasco, México. C. P. 86500. (;

2Colegio de Postgraduados Campus Veracruz. Carretera Xalapa-Veracruz, km 88.5 Predio Tepetates, Veracruz. México. C. P. 91690. Tel: + 52 (229) 201 07 70. (


Home orchards are microenvironments that contain a great diversity of plant and animal species for human use. The aim of this study was to determine the diversity of uses and the role of useful plants in Ejido Sinaloa 1st section from the municipality of Cárdenas, Tabasco, Mexico. Field trips were made from 2009 to 2010, in which plant species, uses and parts used were recorded. A semi-structured interview was applied using an ethnographic methodology in 73 households. Respondents recognized 93 plant species that were integrated in 14 categories for use as medicine, food, ornamental, wood, windbreaks, construction, living fence, magic-religious ritual, shade, clothes, housing, work tool, smoke (to keep away insects) and flavoring. The most used parts were the fruit, leaves and whole plant. As for the biological shape of plants, trees were the most commonly used, followed by grasses and shrubs. Diversity index of citation or mentioning H’= 4.00 and fidelity index values between 13% and 89%.

Keywords: categories of use; floristic species; popular knowledge


Biodiversity is integrated by the variety of biotic elements of flora and fauna, which are distributed unevenly on earth, being the most diverse tropical and subtropical regions (Contreras et al., 2009). Mexico is part of one of the biogeographic regions in which great biodiversity is concentrated; regarding richness, is located in one of the first places in the world, hosting 10% of the flora (Rzedowski, 1991; Levy et al., 2002). It has also been listed as one of the centers of origin of agriculture and diversity of cultivated plants in the world (Hernández, 1993). In this situation, human being, especially those living in rural areas, have adapted to the biological diversity, knowledge and use of this biodiversity, forming an important part of it as food, medicine, tools, shelter, fuel, fiber (direct use), and to meet various cultural needs or indirect uses such as the use of plants in religious offerings and traditional festivals, among others. Such uses depend on each locality and its ingrained habits (Sol, 1993; PNUMA, 2005; Zamorano, 2007; Arteta, 2008).

Through sustainable management of biological diversity can generate new products to meet food, medicinal, ornamental and timber needs, thus to create alternative sources of energy (González, 1984; Centurion et al., 2004). Plants are grouped into specific categories and subcategories meeting its multiple uses, which include: construction, food, medicine, technology, fuel, etc. (Ceroni, 2002; Hoffman and Gallaher, 2007). Currently, the state of Tabasco is under a marked process of loss of its natural resources, particularly its natural vegetation (Ochoa and De la Cruz, 2002); under this context, this study aimed to conduct a search and record useful plants and the diversity of uses given by the inhabitants of Ejido Sinaloa 1st, Section Cárdenas Tabasco.

Materials and methods

The Ejido Sinaloa 1st section is located in the municipality of Cárdenas, Tabasco, south of Mexico (Figure 1), at coordinates 18° 20' 22” North latitude and 93º 44' 05 '' west longitude (INEGI, 2005). Fieldwork was conducted from 2009 to 2010. The sample size to determine the number of households interviewed was considered based on a census conducted in 2007 and data from INEGI (2005).

Figure 1 Geographical location of the study area. 

A Semi-structured interview was applied to 73 families, which provided the information about the knowledge, use and management of plant species of the area. Species not identified in the interviews or in the field, were collected and processed according to Lot and Chiang (1986) and taken to the herbarium from the Postgraduate College of Agricultural Sciences and the Universidad Juarez Autonoma de Tabasco, Academic Division of Science Life for taxonomic identification. For office work, common names, botanical family, scientific name, part used and traditional uses were considered. Furthermore, the data obtained from interviews and tours through the community, the Shannon-Wiener index was determined by the following formula:

H= - Σpi ln pi

Where: pi, proportional abundance of the ith species, (ni/N) (Magurran, 1988). This index was adapted in order to determine it as an ethnobotanical study to compare various aspects of the diversity of useful plants. The total number of species (richness) and mention or citation frequency thereof (Keller and Romero, 2006) was considered. The relative importance of each species was obtained from the degree of consensus among the respondants through Friedman index or fidelity level (FL) designed to quantify the importance of the species for a particular purpose. FL is calculated with the following formula:

F L = (I pIt) x 100

Where: Ip is the number of respondents who mentioned the use of a species for the same primary purpose (frequency of mention); It= the total number of respondents who mentioned the plant for any use (Friedman, 1986).


Six types of vegetation were recorded: mangrove, coastal dunes, ruderal, orchards, cocal plantation and pastures. Highlighting mangrove represented by red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle L.), black mangrove (Avicennia germinans L.), white mangrove (Laguncularia racemosa (L.) Gaertn. f.) And buttonwood mangrove (Conocarpus erectus L.), the coastal dunes with cactus (Nopalea cochenillifera L.) and bayhops (Ipomoea pes-caprae L.). In addition some grasses and woody plants like seagrape (Coccoloba uvifera (L.) Jacq.), and icaco (Chrysobalanus icaco L.) were recorded.

93 taxa were recorded, grouped in 51 botanical families, 83 species were placed in home orchards, dominating ornamental and medicinal plants, eight ruderals species used primarily as hedges and sometimes as clothesline, ornamental and shade, four from the mangrove used as windbreak barriers. Some species such as almond (Terminalia catappa L.) and the flamboyant (Delonix regia (Bojer) Raf.) were located both in home orchards as ruderal.

Regarding biological shape, trees and herbs were the predominant forms, each of which accounted 38.7% finding for the first, species like cocoíte (Gliricidia sepium (Jacq.) Steud) and red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle L.), and for the second, basil (Ocimum basilicum L.) and epazote (Chenopodium ambrosioides L.) (Table 1).

Table 1 Biological shapes of plants found in the town. 

Regarding the plant parts used, fruits recorded 32% represented by species like Cocos nucifera L., Spondias purpurea L. and Annona reticulata L., leaves 31%, used as medicinal as in them are the active ingredients of plants like Kalanchoe sp., Tradescantia spathacea Sw., Tithonia diversifolia (Hemsl.) Gray. The rest represents 57% and constituted by stem, branches, flowers, phyllodes and the whole plant.

Category use of plants

Based on the work done by Prance et al. (1987), Phillips et al. (1994) Galeano (2000) and Sánchez (2001), 14 categories of own uses for this research were established (Table 2).

Table 2 Species represented in the categories of use. 

In the category medicinal species that are used to treat different conditions were listed, such as vicarage (Catharantus roseus L.) used for stomach aches, cough, pimple, injury and diabetes, malabar chesnut (Pachira aquatica Aubl.) for mumps and kidney stones.

In food category mainly composed of trees, recorded icaco (Chrysobalanus icaco L.) and nance (Byrsonima crassifolia (L.) Kunth) that are consumed in different ways (tanned, fresh and canned). Among the ornamental identified the agave (Agave angustifolia Haw.), which is also used as clotheslines and the flamboyant (Delonix regia (Bojer.) Raf). From the 51 botanical families, which were better represented were Fabaceae, Rutaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Lamiaceae (Table 3).

Table 3 Families with the highest number of useful species. 

Categorías de uso: 1= medicinal; 2= alimentación; 3= ornamental; 4= barrera rompe viento; 5= leña; 6= construcción; 7= cerco vivo; 8= tendedero; 9= ritual mágico-religioso; 10= sombra; 11= instrumento; 12= envoltura; 13= saborizante; 14= humo.

Two of the species registered are found in the NOM-59-ECOL-2001 in the category of under special protection, the button mangrove (Conocarpus erectus L.) and red mangrove (Rhizophora mangle L.) that are used for construction.

As for the diversity index of use from Shannon-Wiener this was H’= 4.00, indicating that the inhabitants of the ejido Sinaloa 1st section have an extensive knowledge of the use for plant species that they have. Regarding the Friedman index, the highest values corresponded to plants that have more than one use, highlighting Cocos nucifera L. with a consensus of 83.56% (61 mentions); Tradescantia spathacea Sw with 46.57% (34 mentions); Rhizophora mangle L. and Coccoloba uvifera (L.) Jacq. with 43.83 and 36.98%, respectively.


Some research regarding plant uses has generated a classification, for example, Marin et al., (2005) used 13 categories of use: food, crafts, sawmilling, dye, fuel, construction, cultural, fodder, medicinal, ornamental, psychotropic, toxic and other, the latter covers the species that are not cataloged in any of the above. In Chihuahua, Mexico 14 categories of use that included tannins, glue, resins and natural fibers (Camou et al., 2007) were recorded.

Collected and mentioned plants by interviewed, the most abundant life forms regarding number of species correspond to trees and grasses, representing 38.7% each. Levy et al., (2006) performed a study in the Lacandon jungle in Chiapas, where the trees were the most abundant (36.7%) followed by shrubs, herbs and vines (20.2, 18.35 and 17.94%) and most species are highly important as medicine, decoration and wood.

Regarding categories of use, Ceroni (2002) reported for a village in Peru that host 200 families, eight categories of use: medicinal, food and construction which have most species, indicating that depending on the diversity of species in a particular place are the uses provided to the plants that are the main source of income.

The category of use that recorded more species are mainly medicinal and food, being the most common needs to cover, Hanazaki et al. (2006) and Keller (2000), agree that most plants are used to treat or prevent diseases and as food. In turn Prance et al., (1987) indicate that the food category is the one with more recorded species, not medicinal, but such statement depends on the needs that are required to cover at certain times or by seasonality as reported by Tardio and Pardo (2008), who grouped the recorded species in 11 categories of use, predominating medicinal and food. In contrast, Quiroga (2007) reports the main use of the most used plants in the craft category, leading to activities that take place in a town are determined by the number of species that are recorded in a category.

Of the species that were recorded in the study, only one was reported in the category of flavoring and two as wrapping because in the study area, the eating habits vary, and being away from the urban area, there is no access to certain things. In the study made by Sol et al. (2000), it can be seen that the categories of use also reported fewer species used as flavoring, wrapping and farming instruments, as few species are used for such activities in the biosphere reserve of Pantanos de Centla.

Another category that had fewer species was firewood, as it is a traditional fuel primarily for rural population. Villagers are supplied with firewood from dry mangrove branches and fruit coconut shells which are more than enough to use for cooking. Cov et al. (2003) found that the highest percentage of species identified in Yucatan, are used within the fuel or wood category because it is a forest reserve and there is a diversity of ideal trees for consumption as firewood.

Related to plants that are used as hedges, this is considered an agroforestry practice in order to protect and be boundaries for crops and livestock, in this case, plants used as hedges have the function of delimiting the field and sometimes also they function as clotheslines. Avendaño and Acosta (2000) recorded plants used as hedges and at the same time are used as food, medicine, ornamental and fuel.

Regarding the Friedman index, the highest value was 83.56, this because the number of people who mentioned a species for different uses was higher, and the lowest values were for the species mentioned by a few people and for specific use. Magaña (2008), recorded species with a fidelity level 100, these values are high compared to the reported data. The species that had these values are used for medicinal purposes by traditional healers from Maya-chontales communities of Nacajuca, Tabasco.

The diversity present in the Ejido Sinaloa 1st section is relatively high, this is due to climate, geological and evolutionary aspects of the community favoring the distribution of species (Contreras et al., 2009). The diversity of applications showed the value of H '= 4.00, which allowed to estimate the social importance of species of the locality. This value agrees with Keller and Romero (2006), who obtained a total value of H '= 4.66, for Argentina, using a similar methodology and adapted Shannon index; but contrary to the values obtained by Mendez and Montiel (2007) who got values of H '= 1.2 in two coastal communities in Campeche.


The residents from the Ejido Sinaloa 1st Section use plants that are available, using mainly those with medicinal application to treat common conditions like flu, cough and pain, as they have knowledge of their therapeutic properties and plants used as food to complement its diet or for being a resource available at the time of scarcity of other food sources.

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Received: October 2015; Accepted: January 2016

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