Diversity, Distribution and Potential values of Vegetables in Mgori Division, Singida-Tanzania

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Addis Ababa University


This study employed both ecological and ethnobotanical approaches to document information about the diversity, distribution and potential values of vegetable plant species at Mgori Division of Singida Rural District, in Central Tanzania. The plant species diversity and distribution in Mgori Forest Reserve (MOF) have been described. A total of 304 plant species were collected and identified representing 53 families. Of these 56 species belonging to 21 families were identified by the local people important for use as vegetables. This accounts for 18.4% of all the identified plant species in the area. About 35.7% of the plant species recognised as vegetables having medicinal values. Such plants with both food and medicinal values are called nutraceutical plants. It was therefore found out that, 90% % of these nutraceuticals are used as remedies of human ailments and only 5.3% are used for the treatment of animal diseases. Adansonia digifata, Solanlllll nigrulIl and Mukia lIladeraspatana are used for the treatment of both human and livestock ailments. Amaranthaceae, Euphorbiaceae and Tiliaceae each contributed 4% to the total vegetables. Of the identified vegetable plant species, 3.6% were trees, 8.9% were sillubs, 32% were climbers and 53.6% were herbs. Further analysis revealed that, plant species belonging to the Family Cucurbitaceae contributed more species for use as vegetables by the indigenous people accounting for 17.9% of the vegetable species in the area. Environmental factors such as % slope, altitude, and fire (the most promincnt disturbance in the area, especially during the dry season) were collccted. Plant species for both dry and wet seasons were classified into 4 and 5 community types respectively, using SYNTAX computer program. The vegetation results revealed instability of plant communities. Fire incidences in the area and the effect of climate were responsible for manifestation of two sets of communities. Thus, the dry season community types are the vegetation types of Mgori Forest Reserve. The distribution of plant species and sample plots in relation to environmental variables were subjected into analysis of variance (ANOVA). Species diversity, richness and evenness were generally found to be high in sample plots belonging to wet season community types and generally low in dly season community types. Plant species diversity and richness decreased with distance from the homesteads. The woodlands and shrub lands had high plant species than the grasslands. Drought and over-harvesting are repolied to be the main cause for the scarcity of some vegetable plant species. However, no vegetable plant species in the IUeN red list of threatened species was identified. A number of indigenous practices used by the local people have been documented. Most wild and cultivated vegetables were found to grow more on disturbed lands, such as farmlands, fallow lands and less in the natural forest. Only 39% of the identified vegetables in the area were found to grow in the natural forest. Their density and cover abundance values recorded higher during the wet season community types and lower in dry season, which means more of these vegetables are annuals. Their density and cover abundance values also decreased as one moved from the villages towards the forest. Recommendations towards the conservation of vegetable plant species in the area are put forward ..