Ethnobotanical study on medicinal plants in traditional markets of Son La province, Vietnam

Thanh Son Nguyen, Nian He Xia, Tran Van Chu, Hoang Van Sam


Traditional markets in Vietnam are considered as important places for trading medicinal plants and also play a social role of exchanging traditional use of herbal medicine among different cultural and social groups at the local level. This study aims to identify and document medicinal plants used in 32 traditional markets of Son La province. Data were obtained through interviews and field observation method. A total of 167 informants include 13 herbalists, 49 herbal sellers, and 105 local people were interviewed. The study collected a total of 99 plant species belonging to 88 genera and 57 families. Identified plant species are used by local people for the treatment of 61 different diseases. Leaves, stems and roots are most commonly used either fresh, dried or by decocting the dried parts in water. In the study, the Relative Frequency of Citation (RFC) ranged from 0.02 to 0.44; the Use Value (UV) ranged from 0 to 0.84; the Informant Consensus Factor (ICF) ranged from 0.84 to 1; the Fidelity Level (FL) ranged from 44.44% to 100%. Villagers view and our observations confirmed that knowledge about the number of medicinal plants available in the study area and used by interviewees positively correlated with the threats on medicinal plants in the wild habitats. Illegal and unsustainable exploitation by the local people is a major cause of their depletion from nature.


Ethnic people; Ethnobotany; medicinal plants; Son La province; traditional markets

Full Text:



Al-Qura’n, S. (2009). Ethnopharmacological survey of wild medicinal plants in Showbak, Jordan. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 123(1), 45-50. doi:

Alexiades, M.N. (1996). Selected Guidelines for Ethnobotanical Research: A Field Manual The New York Botanical Garden.

Baldé, N. M., Youla, A., Baldé, M. D., Kaké, A., Diallo, M. M., Baldé, M. A., & Maugendre, D. (2006). Herbal medicine and treatment of diabetes in Africa: an example from Guinea. Diabetes & metabolism, 32(2), 171-175. doi:

Bano, A., Ahmad, M., Hadda, T. B., Saboor, A., Sultana, S., Zafar, M., ... & Ashraf, M. A. (2014). Quantitative ethnomedicinal study of plants used in the skardu valley at high altitude of Karakoram-Himalayan range, Pakistan. Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine, 10(1), 43. doi:

Bussmann, R. W., & Sharon, D. (2006). Traditional medicinal plant use in Northern Peru: tracking two thousand years of healing culture. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 2(1), 47.doi:

Chi, V.V. (1996). The dictionary of medicinal plants of Vietnam. Medical Publishing House, Hanoi, Vietnam.

Cunningham, A. (2001). Applied Ethnobotany: People Wild Plant Use and Conservation. People and Plants Conservation. Earthscan Publications, London, UK.

da Rocha Silva, AJ, & Andrade, LDHC (2005). Northeastern Ethnobotany: a comparative study of the relationship between communities and vegetation in the Litoral-Mata Zone of the State of Pernambuco, Brazil. Acta Bot. Bras. 19 (1), 45-60.

de Albuquerque, U. P., Monteiro, J. M., Ramos, M. A., & de Amorim, E. L. C. (2007). Medicinal and magic plants from a public market in northeastern Brazil. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 110(1), 76-91. doi:

Given, D.R., Harris, W. (1994). Techniques and methods of ethnobotany: as an aid to the study, evaluation, conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Commonwealth Secretariat Publications, London.

Gurib-Fakim, A. (2006). Medicinal plants: traditions of yesterday and drugs of tomorrow. Molecular aspects of Medicine, 27(1), 1-93. doi:

Hamilton, A. C. (2004). Medicinal plants, conservation and livelihoods. Biodiversity & Conservation, 13(8), 1477-1517. doi:

Heinrich, M., Ankli, A., Frei, B., Weimann, C., & Sticher, O. (1998). Medicinal plants in Mexico: Healers' consensus and cultural importance. Social Science & Medicine, 47(11), 1859-1871.doi:

Ho, P.H. (2000). An illustrated Flora of Vietnam. Youth Publisher, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam.

Hoang, S.V., Baas, P., & KEßLER, P. J. (2008a). Traditional medicinal plants in Ben En national park, Vietnam. Blumea-Biodiversity, Evolution and Biogeography of Plants, 53(3), 569-601.doi:

Hoang, S.V., Baas, P., & Keβler, P. J. (2008b). Uses and conservation of plant species in a national park—a case study of Ben En, Vietnam. Economic Botany, 62(4), 574-593.doi:

Hoang, S.V., Tran V. C., D., N.T.T. (2019). Traditional knowledge of local people on medicinal plants in Pu Hu nature reserve, Vietnam. Journal of Bioscience Discovery, 10, 72-102.

Khan, M. P. Z., Ahmad, M., Zafar, M., Sultana, S., Ali, M. I., & Sun, H. (2015). Ethnomedicinal uses of edible wild fruits (EWFs) in Swat Valley, Northern Pakistan. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 173, 191-203. doi:

Leitão, F., Fonseca-Kruel, V. S. D., Silva, I. M., & Reinert, F. (2009). Urban ethnobotany in Petrópolis and Nova Friburgo (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil). Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia, 19(1B), 333-342.doi:

Loi, D.T. (1995). Medicinal trees and medicaments of Vietnam. Science and Technology Publishing House Hanoi, Vietnam.

Lulekal, E., Asfaw, Z., Kelbessa, E., & Van Damme, P. (2013). Ethnomedicinal study of plants used for human ailments in Ankober District, North Shewa Zone, Amhara region, Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 9(1), 63.doi:

Macía, M. J. (2004). Multiplicity in palm uses by the Huaorani of Amazonian Ecuador. Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 144(2), 149-159.doi:

Macía, M. J., García, E., & Vidaurre, P. J. (2005). An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants commercialized in the markets of La Paz and El Alto, Bolivia. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 97(2), 337-350. doi:

Malla, B., Gauchan, D. P., & Chhetri, R. B. (2015). An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by ethnic people in Parbat district of western Nepal. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 165, 103-117.doi:

Martin, G.J. (1995). Ethnobotany: A Methods Manual. Chapman and Hall, London, UK.

Martin, G.J. (2004). Ethnobotany: A Methods Manual. Earthscan Publications Ltd, London, UK.

Pardo-de-Santayana, M., Tardío, J., Blanco, E., Carvalho, A. M., Lastra, J. J., San Miguel, E., & Morales, R. (2007). Traditional knowledge of wild edible plants used in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal): a comparative study. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 3(1), 27.doi:

Phillips, O., & Gentry, A. H. (1993). The useful plants of Tambopata, Peru: I. Statistical hypotheses tests with a new quantitative technique. Economic Botany, 47(1), 15-32.doi:

Pieroni, A., & Quave, C. L. (2005). Traditional pharmacopoeias and medicines among Albanians and Italians in southern Italy: a comparison. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 101(1-3), 258-270. doi:

Prance, G. T., Baleé, W., Boom, B. M., & Carneiro, R. L. (1987). Quantitative ethnobotany and the case for conservation in Ammonia. Conservation Biology, 1(4), 296-310.doi:

Quave, C. L., & Pieroni, A. (2015). A reservoir of ethnobotanical knowledge informs resilient food security and health strategies in the Balkans. Nature Plants, 1(2), 14021

Rossato, S. C., De LeitãO-Filho, H. F., & Begossi, A. (1999). Ethnobotany of caiçaras of the Atlantic Forest coast (Brazil). Economic botany, 53(4), 387-395.doi:

Samy, R. P., & Ignacimuthu, S. (2000). Antibacterial activity of some folklore medicinal plants used by tribals in Western Ghats of India. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 69(1), 63-71.doi:

Santos, E. B., Dantas, G. S., Santos, H. B., Diniz, M. F., & Sampaio, F. C. (2009). Etnobotanical studies of medicinal plants for oral conditions in the municipality of João Pessoa, Brazil. Revista Brasileira de Farmacognosia, 19(1B), 321-324.

Srithi, K., Balslev, H., Wangpakapattanawong, P., Srisanga, P., & Trisonthi, C. (2009). Medicinal plant knowledge and its erosion among the Mien (Yao) in northern Thailand. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 123(2), 335-342.doi:

Tardío, J., & Pardo-de-Santayana, M. (2008). Cultural importance indices: a comparative analysis based on the useful wild plants of Southern Cantabria (Northern Spain). Economic Botany, 62(1), 24-39.doi:

Tariq, A., Mussarat, S., Adnan, M., Abd_Allah, E. F., Hashem, A., Alqarawi, A. A., & Ullah, R. (2015). Ethnomedicinal evaluation of medicinal plants used against gastrointestinal complaints. BioMed research international, 2015.doi:

Ticktin, T. (2004). The ecological implications of harvesting non‐timber forest products. Journal of Applied Ecology, 41(1), 11-21.doi:

Trotter, R.T., Logan, M.H. (1986). Informant Consensus: A New Approach for Identifying Potentially Effective Medicinal Plants. Ed. Bedfore Hills, New York, USA, 91-112.

Tumoro, G., & Maryo, M. (2016). Determination of informant consensus factor and fidelity level of ethnomedicinal plants used in Misha Woreda, Hadiya Zone, Southern Ethiopia. International Journal of Biodiversity and Conservation, 8(12), 351-364.doi:

UNCTAD (2000). United Nations Conference on Trade And Development - Systems and National Experiences for Protecting Traditional Knowledge, Innovations and Practices, Background note by the UNCTAD secretariat, Geneva.

van Andel, T.R. (2000). Non-timber Forest Products of the North-west District of Guyana Tropenbos International, Wageningen, The Netherlands.

van Andel, T.R., Croft, S., Van Loon, E. E., Quiroz, D., Towns, A. M., & Raes, N. (2015).Prioritizing West African medicinal plants for conservation and sustainable extraction studies based on market surveys and species distribution models. Biological Conservation, 181, 173-181. doi:

Verpoorte, R., Choi, Y. H., & Kim, H. K. (2005). Ethnopharmacology and systems biology: a perfect holistic match. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 100(1-2), 53-56. doi:

Vitalini, S., Iriti, M., Puricelli, C., Ciuchi, D., Segale, A., & Fico, G. (2013). Traditional knowledge on medicinal and food plants used in Val San Giacomo (Sondrio, Italy)—An alpine ethnobotanical study. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 145(2), 517-529. doi: Zheng, X. L., & Xing, F. W. (2009). Ethnobotanical study on medicinal plants around Mt. Yinggeling, Hainan Island, China. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 124(2), 197-210. doi:

Yaseen, G., Ahmad, M., Sultana, S., Suleiman Alharrasi, A., Hussain, J., Zafar, M., Shafiq Ur, R. (2015). Ethnobotany of medicinal plants in the Thar Desert (Sindh) of Pakistan. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 163, 43-59. doi:



  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Forest and Society is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

View My Stats

Forest and Society has been indexed/registered/mentioned in : 


View full indexing services