Ethnobotanical Uses of Sansevieria Thunb (Asparagaceae) in Coast Province of Kenya

Takawira-Nyenya, Ratidzayi
Newton, Leonard E.
Wabuyele, Emily
Stedje, Brita
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Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa
Sansevieria Thunb. is a genus with diverse ethnobotanical uses in its geographical range. The current study reports on findings from an ethnobotanical study carried out on the genus Sansevieria in Coast Province of Kenya. Collating of ethnobotanical uses of Sansevieria from existing literature has been complicated by the fact that the ethnobotany of the genus is poorly documented with most species misidentified due to the nomenclatural confusion and the unresolved taxonomy of the genus Sansevieria. The aim of the current study was to correctly identify various Sansevieria species from their natural habitats and type localities where possible, to observe the plants in situ, and to document ethnobotanical uses of different Sansevieria species that occur in Coast Province of Kenya. Indigenous knowledge on the use of the plants by the local communities was captured by interviewing people residing in the study area. Purposive sampling and snow ball sampling were employed in the selection of informants. Direct observation, open ended, informal, and semi structured interviews covering questions on local names of species, plant uses, mode of administration, and the specific plant parts used were carried out with thirty respondents. Responses were documented for ethnobotanical uses of 9 Sansevieria species: S. conspicua N.E.Br., S. dumetescens L.E. Newton, S. fischeri (Baker) Marais, S. kirkii Baker, S. nitida Chahin., S. perrotii Warb., S. powellii N.E.Br., S. raffillii N.E.Br., and S. volkensii Gürke. A total of four broad use categories were identified from the study: medicinal use, horticultural use, food additives, and materials. Materials category was the most prevalent category with 49% of the total responses, followed by Medicinal category that accounted for 27%, the Horticultural use category that accounted for 21%, and the Food additives category that accounted for 3% of the total responses. The current study contributes to documentation of the ethnobotany of genus Sansevieria species in Coast Province of Kenya and provides a basis for a broader inquiry on the ethnobotany of genus Sansevieria based on wider sampling. 
Takawira Nyenya, R., Newton, L., Wabuyele, E., Stedje, B. 2014. Ethnobotanical Uses of Sansevieria Thunb (Asparagaceae) in Coast Province of Kenya. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 12: 51-70.
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