Survey of poisonous plants in southern Ethiopia


  • Dawit Abebe
  • Kelbessa Urga
  • Asfaw Debella
  • Chernet Ambaye
  • Amare Dejene



Background.: Though winter' account is wanting, many plants exist in Ethiopia that are poisonous to both humans and livestock. Sortie verbal reports also indicate the presence of plant species, which are employed in criminal poisoning.

Objective: We conducted this study to document empirical or local knowledge on poisonous plants to help rapid  identification of the source of poisoning and provision of treatment by health professiotials.

Design: The study was carried out in Southern Nations,  Nationalities,  and Peoples State of Ethiopia,. A two stage stratified random sampling procedure was used in the selection of major ethnic groups (zones) and Weredas (sub-district). Using open-ended questionnaires, a focus group disaissiou involving cocoa-tunny leaders was performed in each of the 12. selected Weredas.  Using structured questionnaires, individual interviews were also held in up to three peasant associations of each Wereda.

Result: 111plants that ate locally tut), as harmful to people and/or livestock because or their use as herbal remedies, food or femter , and other reasons were documented. The inherent traits of the plants and the environmental !actors contributing to the toxicity of the species and the ciindidons that favour exposure of people and livestock are discussed. A few selected species that an  believed to pose. tire greatest hazard to people were addressed in detail. A review 01 the active principles that ate responsible for tic toxicity of these plants is also presented.

Conclusion: In view of' the ever expanding and unregulated trade in herbal products, then is a danger that the public could end up in buying unsafe preparations. the need for further intensified study in the area is therefore recommended as means of minimizing the risk.   lEthiop. J. Health Dev.  2001;15(3): 209-221]