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Keywords: Ethnobotanical survey, n Astragalus cruciatus Link., n Astragalus gyzensis Bunge, Ethnobotanical indices, Diabetes, Scorpion and snake bites
Astragalus cruciatus and Astragalus gyzensis are two Saharan plants with medicinal properties. The objective of the current study is to conduct an ethnobotanical investigation of these two plants within the El-Oued population of Algeria to document their traditional uses for the first time. An ethnobotanical survey was conducted between February and November 2022. Data were collected through in-person interviews with 250 individuals. Ethnobotanical indices (the relative frequency of citation, use value, the fidelity level, informant consensus factor and rahaman similarity index) were computed and socio-demographic information was analyzed using the Chi-squared (Chi2) test. The findings showed that A. cruciatus had the highest relative frequency of citation and use value (RFC = 0.404 and UV = 1.84). This species has several uses as food for animals (FL = 77.23) and humans (FL = 76.24), medicinal (FL = 18.81) and cosmetic (FL = 3.96). The most important Informant consensus factor was recorded for its utilization in the treatment of diabetes (Fic = 0.66). Alternatively, A. gyzensis had a similar RFC (RFC = 0.4), but it had a low UV (UV = 0.68). It was also mainly used as food for animals (FL = 79) and humans (FL = 62) and had some medicinal uses (FL = 19). The treatment of snake and scorpion bites had the highest Fic (Fic = 0.66). In El Hamraya/Douar el ma region, both species had a 100% Rahaman similarity index for their antidiabetic properties. Leaves were the most commonly used plant part for both species (AC = 88.9%, AG = 57.9%), usually prepared as a decoction (AC = 66.66%, AG = 63.2%). These plants are familiar to elderly, uneducated men over 60. Further validation of traditional plant uses through pharmacological research is necessary to safeguard regional biodiversity.
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The authors were grateful to the herbalist Mr. Abdeldjabar Noubli and the head of the forest district in Taleb Larbi: Mr Boukelba Moncef (El-Oued, Algeria) and Dr. Abdelwahab Chedad (Laboratory of Saharan Bio-Resources: Preservation and Valorization, Ouargla University, Algeria) for the assistance.