Native Useful Plants of Chile: A Review and Use Patterns - Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew research repository
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Journal article

Native Useful Plants of Chile: A Review and Use Patterns

8 April 2019


We compiled an inventory of the uses of the native flora of Chile by extracting uses cited in the literature until 2015. The inventory reported use citations for a total of 995 species of useful vascular plants (23% of Chile’s flora). These data were used to test the hypothesis that some plant families are overrepresented (overused) for some use categories. We used two statistical approaches: a Bayesian and an imprecise Dirichlet model (IDM). Families with a higher number of useful species are Asteraceae, Poaceae, Fabaceae, and Solanaceae. However, according to both the Bayesian and IDM approaches, the Grossulariaceae, Myrtaceae, Lamiaceae, Nothofagaceae, Salicaceae, Rosaceae, and Bromeliaceae are overrepresented. We found 501 species with medicinal uses, 228 with edible uses, 341 used for animal fodder, 300 considered ornamental, 102 used as dyes, 89 for ritual purposes, 75 for timber, and 51 species as a source of fiber. Over 43% of the useful species are endemic to Chile, and 4.7% are threatened. Our results indicate that the plant families of Chile with greater species richness are more likely to have a higher number of useful plants. However, some families tend to be overrepresented and others underrepresented within the different use categories, suggesting a non-random taxonomic distribution pattern of flora use.


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