An Evaluation of the Extent and Threat of Bark Harvesting of Medicinal Plant Species in the Venda Region, Limpopo Province, South Africa
The medicinal flora of the Venda region consists of a variety of species, which may potentially provide therapeutic agents to treat different diseases. Bark use for medicinal purposes has been reported for approximately 30% of the woody species (153 species) in the Venda region in southern Africa. However, only 58 plant species are commonly harvested for the medicinal properties in their bark and found in muthi shops in the region. These 58 species were scored for the possible threat of bark harvesting to the plant survival. Ethnobotanical studies indicate that the growing trade in indigenous medicinal plants in South Africa is posing a threat to the conservation and preservation of many plant species. Apart from pharmaceutical companies, trade in medicinal plants has become a way of making a living for some people. This study investigated the pattern of trade in medicinal plants by local markets in the Venda region, Limpopo Province, South Africa. Indications are that bark harvesting may threaten some of the plant species.