Use & Knowledge of Wild Leafy Vegetables in Northern Morocco


Wild leafy vegetable use and knowledge across multiple sites in Morocco: a case study for transmission of local knowledge?

Powell B, Ouarghidi A, Johns T, Ibn Tattou M, Eyzaguirre P
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Apr 4;10:34
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4008438

Regions of Morocco
Regions of Morocco [source: Tachfin, Wikimedia Commons]
Bronwen Powell of the Centre for International Forestry Research and McGill University, with colleagues from the Cadi Ayyad University, McGill, Mohammed V University and Bioversity International, conducted an ethnobotanical study to document the use and diversity of wild leafy vegetables across three regions in northern Morocco (Taza-Al Hoceima-Taounate, Tadla-Azilal, and Marrakech-Tensift-El Haouz – #15, 12, and 7 on the map).

The authors discuss the importance of wild leafy vegetables in the Background:

“WLVs [wild leafy vegetables] are essential to the nutrition and food security of people around the world. WLVs add diversity to the diet; making diets healthier and more interesting. Studies have shown the significant contribution of WLVs to micronutrient content of local diets in developing countries. WLVs can be important, not just in times of food scarcity (drought) but throughout the year. In many cases, WLVs are especially important to socio-economically vulnerable groups and indigenous populations forced to live on marginal lands for social and political reasons. In such groups WLVs can decrease people‚Äôs dependence on cash-purchased market foods and provide income for those with limited access to land for cultivation of crops.”

Scolymus maculatus
Scolymus maculatus [source: Iorsh, Wikimedia Commons]
The team identified more than 30 species of wild leafy vegetables, including four that had not previously been recorded in the literature as used in Morocco. A number of species were recorded in all three regions, including Carduus tenuiflorus, Scolymus maculatus, Scolymus hispanicus, Malva spp., Emex spinosa, and Rumex spp.

The vegetables are not eaten raw; rather they are cooked, either as a side dish or used as a vegetable in a sauce poured over couscous.

In their Conclusion, the authors note that their study of knowledge and use of wild leafy vegetables across three regions in Morocco present a case study of potential importance for research in transmission of ethnobotanical knowledge, the role of markets in cultural transmission, and the nutritional value of wild leafy vegetables to local diet and nutrition:

“Knowledge of WLVs in Morocco is clearly highly nuanced, very highly variable, and susceptible to rapid change. WLVs in Morocco provide an extremely interesting case study in which to further study the horizontal and vertical transmission of traditional or local knowledge. In Morocco, markets may be an important site where food preferences and choices are shaped through cultural transmission.

“There is a great need for more research on WLVs in Morocco: nutrient composition, contribution to local diet and nutrition, as well as the potential of WLVs and other traditional foods to play a role in mitigation of the nutrition transition. We need to better understand if and how WLVs and other traditional foods can be incorporated into public health nutrition messages and food-based strategies to mitigate the double burden of nutrition Morocco now faces.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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