Tropical Ecology and Conservation [Monteverde Institute]



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Publication Date

September 2000


We assessed the medicinal plant composition of a primary and secondary forest stand in lower montane wet forest in La Cruz, Costa Rica. Herbaceous and woody plant species above 45cm and below 200 cm in height (excluding vines and ferns) were collected identified and evidence for possible medicinal properties sought in both medicinal reference books and from local herbalist. We found approximately the same overall and medicinal diversity in both stands, but the species composition changed between primary and secondary forests. From our interviews with local herbalists, we found that herbalists knew more medicinal species in secondary growth than primary growth. This is expected since secondary forests are more accessible to local communities than undisturbed primary forest areas. From our comparison of local herbalist knowledge to medicinal information in book references, we found that herbalists know more medicinal species in both primary and secondary forest than what books report. However, book references report on average more medicinal uses per plant species. Studies of medicinal knowledge may be used to define a value for a forest area which could be critical for its conservation. Furthermore, it is essential for studies on medicinal composition of forests to include both scientific investigation and local herbalist knowledge in order to maximize the value assigned to a forest area.


Evaluamos la composición medicinal en el bosque primario y secundario en La Cruz, Costa Rica a 1540m del bosque mojado premontano. Especies de plantas herbáceos y leñosos mas que 45cm y menos que200 cm estaban recolectados, identificados y examinados para propiedades medicinales y usos curativos en cuenta de libros de referencia medicinal botania y las cuentas de herbalistos locales. Nos encontramos aproximadamente el mismo de diversidad especies en las dos parcelas, pero la composición de especies cambio se varía mucho. Encontramos que herbalistas locales saben más sobre las especies secundarias y sus usos que las especies primarias. También, encontramos que herbalistas locales saben una variedad mas extenso de especies que pueden estar utilizados medicinalmente en las parcelas primarios y secundarios, sin embargo los libros referencias pueden proveer mas usos curativos por especie. Los estudios del conocimiento medicinal pueden definir un valor para un bosque que sea critical para su conservación. También, es esencial que los estudios en la composición científica y el conocimiento de los herbalistas en orden que maximar el valor de un bosque.


10 pages

Holding Location

Monteverde Institute


English; Spanish

Media Type



Digital Only





A comparison in medicinal plant composition of primary and secondary growth stands by herbalist and medicinal literature references



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