Ethnobotanical study on medicinal plants around Limu Mountains of Hainan Island, China

J Ethnopharmacol. 2013 Jul 30;148(3):964-74. doi: 10.1016/j.jep.2013.05.051. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


Aim of the study: The main objectives were to document traditional knowledge on the use of medicinal plants and compare medicinal plant traditions between Li and Hmong living around Limu Mountains of Hainan Island.

Material and methods: Information was obtained from semi-structured interviews, personal conversation and guided fieldtrips with herbalists. Quantitative methods, such as the coefficient of similarity (S), Chi-square analysis and the 'informant agreement ratio' were applied for the comparison of medicinal plant tradition between Li and Hmong.

Results: In all, 224 plant species grown in the study areas are still traditionally used for the treatment of various diseases. Euphorbiaceae (17 species), Rubiaceae (16 species), Papilionaceae and Poaceae (11 species, respectively), Verbenaceae (10 species) and Compositae (7 species) are predominant families used by herbalists. The most species were reported to be used for injuries (25.1% of all the medicinal use-reports), digestive system disorders (24.8%), infections/infestations (14.7%) and muscular-skeletal system disorders (12.3%). The coefficient of similarity (29.0%) shows a relatively high overlap of medicinal plants used by Li and Hmong. Using Chi-square analysis, it was found that habit mentions were dependent upon the culture. Infections/infestations, injuries and muscular-skeletal system disorders scored high IAR value and mention in both Li and Hmong communities.

Conclusions: Medicinal plants are of importance to indigenous people around Limu Mountains who still rely on medicinal plants to treat a wide range of illnesses. There is a close relationship of medicinal plant tradition between Li and Hmong who are culturally distinct.

Keywords: Ethnopharmacology; Hainan Island; Hmong people; Li people; Medicinal plants; Quantitative methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Data Collection
  • Ethnobotany
  • Humans
  • Islands
  • Magnoliopsida
  • Medicine, Chinese Traditional
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plant Preparations / therapeutic use
  • Plant Structures
  • Plants, Medicinal*


  • Plant Preparations