Ethnobotanical Survey of Plants in Folklore Medicine of Selected Communities of Yobe State, North-East Nigeria

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Biological Sciences, Yobe State University, PMB 1144, Damaturu, Nigeria

2 Department of Zoology, Modibbo Adama University of Technology, Yola, Adamawa State, Nigeria


Since time immemorial, traditional medicines especially medicinal plants have remained the mainstay of managing various ailments in underdeveloped and developing nations globally. Despite the availability of orthodox medicines, communities in low income countries rely largely on herbal preparations to manage and cure diseases. In this study, an ethnobotanical survey was conducted with a view to compile and document traditional medicinal plants and practices of six communities, i.e. three (3) from each of two Local Government Areas of Yobe State, Nigeria. Semi structured questionnaires aided by guided interviews were used to obtain information regarding traditional knowledge from 120 traditional herbalists, their attendants and community members. Results revealed that more males 80 (67%) than females 40 (33%) practice traditional medicines in general terms, with the majority of the respondents 36 (30%) falling in the age range of 51-60 years. Specifically, 28 (23.33%) traditional herbalists were observed to specialize in the treatment of fever and fever-related illnesses. A total of 60 medicinal plants belonging to 28 botanical families were identified and their medicinal values recorded. Out of the 28 botanical families recorded, Fabaceae was the most common family with nine (9) species of medicinal plants followed by Asteraceae and Moraceae families, with four (4) representative medicinal plant species each.  Similarly, leaves are the most common parts used followed by stem bark and roots/root bark respectively. There is a need to scientifically validate the traditional claim for the use of medicinal plants reported in the treatment of management of disease conditions.


1. Mahomoodally MF. Traditional medicines in Africa: an appraisal of ten potent African medicinal plants. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2013; 2013.
2. Kankara SS, Ibrahim MH, Mustafa M, Go R. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used for traditional maternal healthcare in Katsina state, Nigeria. South African journal of botany 2015; 97: 165-75.
3. Abdullahi AA. Trends and challenges of traditional medicine in Africa. African journal of traditional, complementary and alternative medicines 2011; 8(5S).
4. Yuan H, Ma Q, Ye L, Piao G. The traditional medicine and modern medicine from natural products. Molecules 2016; 21(5): 559.
5. Kankara SS, Isah AB, Bello A, Ahmed A, Lawal U. Medicinal plants used for the management of hepatic ailments in Katsina State, Nigeria. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 2018; 12(24): 375-86.
6. Hou P-W, Hsu H-C, Lin Y-W, Tang N-Y, Cheng C-Y, Hsieh C-L. The history, mechanism, and clinical application of auricular therapy in traditional Chinese medicine. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2015; 2015.
7. Sethiya NK, Nahata A, Mishra SH, Dixit VK. An update on Shankhpushpi, a cognition-boosting Ayurvedic medicine. Zhong xi yi jie he xue bao = Journal of Chinese integrative medicine 2009; 7(11): 1001-22.
8. Mukherjee PK, Kumar V, Kumar NS, Heinrich M. The Ayurvedic medicine Clitoria ternatea—from traditional use to scientific assessment. Journal of ethnopharmacology 2008; 120(3): 291-301.
9. Chopra A, Doiphode VV. Ayurvedic medicine: core concept, therapeutic principles, and current relevance. Medical Clinics 2002; 86(1): 75-89.
10. Ahmad B, Akhtar J. Unani system of medicine. Pharmacognosy Reviews 2007; 1(2): 210.
11. Aslam M, Bano H, Vohora S. Sartan (cancer) and its treatment in Unani medicine. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine 1981; 9(02): 95-107.
12. Terasawa K. Evidence-based reconstruction of Kampo medicine: part I—is Kampo CAM? Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2004; 1.
13. Clarke P. Aboriginal healing practices and Australian bush medicine. Journal of the Anthropological Society of South Australia 2008; 33(1): 3-38.
14. Devanesen DD. Traditional Aboriginal medicine practice in the Northern Territory. 2000.
15. Tella A. The practice of traditional medicine in Africa. Nigerian medical journal: journal of the Nigeria Medical Association 1979; 9(5-6): 607.
16. Lifongo LL, Simoben CV, Ntie-Kang F, Babiaka SB, Judson PN. A bioactivity versus ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants from Nigeria, West Africa. Natural Products and Bioprospecting 2014; 4(1): 1-19.
17. Ajibesin KK, Bala DN, Umoh UF. Ethno medicinal survey of plants used by the indigenes of Rivers State of Nigeria. Pharmaceutical biology 2012; 50(9): 1123-43.
18. Adebayo J, Krettli A. Potential antimalarials from Nigerian plants: a review. Journal of ethnopharmacology 2011; 133(2): 289-302.
19. Bako S, Bakfur M, John I, Bala E. Ethnomedicinal and phytochemical profile of some savanna plant species in Nigeria. International Journal of Botany 2005.
20. Sofowora A, Ogunbodede E, Onayade A. The role and place of medicinal plants in the strategies for disease prevention. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 2013; 10(5): 210-29.
21. Hewing, 2010. African Traditional Medicines. Alternative Medicine Encyclopedia. 2005 Available from: [Retrieved: March 18, 2020]
22. Umar, U. M. and Babalola, I. T. (2015). Ethnomedicinal Survey of Medicinal PlantsUsed by Three Indigenous Tribes inYobe State, Nigeria. Traditional and Folk Herbal Medicine: Recent Researches, 3: 469-486.
23. National Population Commission [NPC] (2006). Official Result for 2006 House and Population Census Figures. Bureau for National Statistics, Abuja, Nigeria.
24. Yobe State Ministry of Health [YSMoH] (2010). Yobe State Government Strategic Health Development Plan (2010-2015). Damaturu: Yobe State Government of Nigeria.
25. Hassan AA, Hassan Y, Jambo UM. Nexus of Economic Activities and Haulage Transportation: An Ethnographic Perspective from Potiskum (Yobe State) Nigeria. International Journal of Scientific Research and Review 2019; 7(02).
26. Blench R, Dendo M. Hausa names for plants and trees. 2nd edn Cambridge, United Kingdom 2007; 8.
27. Yusuf HK, Orach-Meza LF, Aliyu BS. Ethnobotanical inventory of medicinal plants with aphrodisiac potentials in Katsina state, Nigeria. 2019.
28. Lawal I, Uzokwe N, Igboanugo A, et al. Ethno medicinal information on collation and identification of some medicinal plants in Research Institutes of South-west Nigeria. African Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology 2010; 4(1): 001-7.
29. Halimat A, Yusuf MS, Oladipupo D, et al. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in the treatment of gastrointestinal tract infections in Ebiraland Kogi state, Nigeria. Journal of Medicinal Plants 2020; 8(1): 38-44.
30. Dambatta SH, Aliyu B. A survey of major ethno medicinal plants of Kano north, Nigeria, their knowledge and uses by traditional healers. Bayero Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences 2011; 4(2): 28-34.
31. Daskum AM, Godly C, Qadeer MA, Ling LY. Effect of Senna occidentalis (Fabaceae) leaves extract on the formation of β-hematin and evaluation of in vitro antimalarial activity. Int J of Herbal Med 2019; 7(3): 46-51.
32. Tona L, Mesia K, Ngimbi N, et al. In-vivo antimalarial activity of Cassia occidentalism Morinda morindoides and Phyllanthus niruri. Annals of Tropical Medicine & Parasitology 2001; 95(1): 47-57.
33. Fatanye, A. W., Okonofua, F., Ntoimo, L., & Yaya, S. (2019). A qualitative Study of community elders' perceptions about the underutilization of formal maternal care and maternal death in rural Nigeria. Reproductive Health, 16(164).
34. Mainasara MM, Maishanu HM, John PB, Sanusi SB. Medicinal Plants used in Traditional Maternal Health Care Delivery in Five Selected Villages of Zango Kataf Local Government Area of Kaduna State, Nigeria. International Journal of Science and Healthcare Research 2017; 2(2): 24.
35. Mabogunje O. Ritual hot baths (wankan-jego) in Zaria, Nigeria. Newsletter (Inter-African Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of Women and Children) 1990; (9): 10-.