Traditional Uses of Ethnotoxic Plants in Van Province of Eastern Anatolia

Creative Commons License

Mükemre M., Konczak I., Dalar A.

in: Anatolia: Past, Present and Future Perspectives, Trıne B Schou, Editor, NOVA Science Publishers Inc. , New-York, pp.163-190, 2020

  • Publication Type: Book Chapter / Chapter Research Book
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Publisher: NOVA Science Publishers Inc.
  • City: New-York
  • Page Numbers: pp.163-190
  • Editors: Trıne B Schou, Editor
  • Van Yüzüncü Yıl University Affiliated: Yes


This chapter provides a summary of ethnopharmacological information on toxic plants traditionally used by the indigenous people of Van Province, Eastern Anatolia Region of Turkey. The Van Province located in the eastern part of Turkey is situated in a green, fertile oasis amid rocky mountains. The landscape of the Province is overwhelmingly characterized by numerous highlands, lowlands, and valleys which, with their specific microclimate zones, provided suitable conditions for evolvement of vast numbers of endemic plant species. For centuries, these conditions facilitated an establishment of rural settlements with pastoral farming and extensive uses of local wild plants as food and medicine by the local population. The rich local flora combined with isolated traditional tribe culture of Van Province facilitated the development of a unique plant-based ethnotoxic knowledge, that was based on trial and error and is orally passed from generation to generation. Although the local flora is considerably utilized to date, no inventory of the used toxic plants has ever been created. Numerous plants used in traditional medicine are toxic, however, no reports on their phytochemical composition and description of traditional uses have ever been published. Therefore, the objective of this study is to record the traditional knowledge of medicinal uses of toxic plants of Van Province to preserve this valuable information. The ethnobotanical data was collected over five years period (2014-2019) based on structured face-to-face interviews with local healers (240 informants) recognized for their long practice in traditional medicine using toxic plants. In total, 46 plant taxa that belonging to 19 plant families (principally Apiaceae and Ranunculaceae) were recorded. The study revealed that in traditional medicine, only 33 vernacular (common) names were in use to describe these 46 plant taxa. Out of the traditionally known 46 ethnotoxic plants only 15 are utilized for medicinal purposes. The application of toxic plants in folk medicine is based on (i) strict dose and (ii) utilization of the second fraction of decoction (or infusion). The highest degree of consensus among the traditional healers was recorded in regards to the effects of toxic botanicals on nervous system (ICF: 0.99). The ethnobotanical data collected in this study may provide valuable leads for the identification of novel and efficient pharmaceutical agents.