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Short report (ethno

)
Contribution to the knowledge of the folk plant medicine
in Calabria region (Southern Italy)
N.G. Passalacqua
a
, P.M. Guarrera
b,

, G. De Fine
c
a
Museo di Storia Naturale della Calabria ed Orto Botanico, Università della Calabria, 87030 Arcavacata di Rende, Italy
b
Museo Nazionale Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, Piazza Marconi 8-10 00144 Rome, Italy
c
via Madonna delle Grazie 9, 88813, Cirò, Italy
Received 30 May 2005; accepted 19 July 2006
Available online 23 September 2006
Abstract
A series of research on plants used in Calabria (Southern Italy) in the folk plant medicine was carried out in the last twenty
years. The use of 104 taxa distributed into 42 families are described. Among the major findings: Ceterach officinarum as
hypotensive; Heliotropium europaeum in the case of urinary inflammations; Silybum marianum for haemorrhoids; Arundo donax
for pertussis and cystitis; Allium cepa for sties and flu; Laurus nobilis as galactagogue; Passiflora incarnata for burns,
haemorrhoids and skin inflammations; Scrophularia canina for rhagas and wounds; Urtica membranacea for tussis and tonsillitis.
© 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Folk plant medicine; Ethnobotany; Calabria (Southern Italy)
1. Study area
Calabria region (15,080 km
2
) extends about 250 km North to South in the center of the Mediterranean Sea,
bordering the Basilicata region (latitude 38–40°N; longitude 15°40′–17°10′E) [1]. About 90% of the surface is
occupied by southern Apennines, mainly calcareous, with Pollino Massif, and by the Calabrian Apennines, mainly
siliceous, with the Coastal Chain, Sila Massif, Serre Calabre, Aspromonte Massif. Plains are few, linked to the Crati
and Lamato rivers. The climate is Mediterranean type; strong meso-climatic variations depend on altitude, topographic
features and location with respect to the sea. Xerophylous oaks (Quercus virgiliana, Q. suber, Q. ilex), Mediterranean
maquis and therophytic pastures dominate the coastal thermo-Mediterranean belt; mesophylous oaks and mixed woods
(Quercus cerris, Q. pubescens, Castanea sativa, etc.) in the meso-Mediterranean hilly belt; beech woods (but also
Pinus laricio and P. leucodermis woods), brooms and mountain pastures in the mountain European belt [2].
2. Population
From the ethnobotanical point of view, Calabria is an interesting region, since in ancient times it was
subject to the cultures of several people such as Greeks, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Normans.
Fitoterapia 78 (2007) 52–68
www.elsevier.com/locate/fitote

Corresponding author. Tel.:+39 06 5912669; fax: +39 06 5911848.
E-mail address: pmguarrera@arti.beniculturali.it (P.M. Guarrera).
0367-326X/$ - see front matter © 2006 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.fitote.2006.07.005
Agricultural (cereals, vegetables, grapes, olives and citrus fruits), pastoral and tourist activities characterize
the way of life of the people in the region. Our investigation was carried out in: Crotone district (Cirò);
Reggio Calabria district (Cittanova, Gioia Tauro, Scilla, S. Giorgio Morgeto, S. Stefano in Aspromonte); in
Cosenza district (Acri, Castrovillari); in Catanzaro district (S. Elia, Montauro) (total area 649 km
2
; about
100,000 inhabitants) [2]. Brief news were collected for Lamezia Terme, Vallefiorita (CZ); Campana, Morano,
Tarsia (CS) (Fig. 1).
3. Aim of the study
The work aims to recover the traditions related to the plant human medicine in the Calabria region. This recovery
can have relapses in the ethnopharmacological field.
Fig. 1. Map of the investigated areas in Calabria region (AC Acri; CA Campana; CI Cirò; CS Castrovillari; CT Cittanova; GT Gioia Tauro; LT
Lamezia Terme; MT Montauro; MR Morano; SC Scilla; SE S.Elia; SG S.Giorgio Morgeto; SS S.Stefano di Aspromonte; TATarsia; VAVallefiorita).
53 N.G. Passalacqua et al. / Fitoterapia 78 (2007) 52–68
Table 1
Medicinal and ritual uses of plants in some areas of Calabria (Southern Italy)
Family/scientific name
(voucher specimen)
Local name Used part
a
Use
b
Manipulation and way of use
c
Citations Locality
d
Habitat
e
(n) (%)
Adiantaceae
Adiantum
capillus-veneris L.
Capiddu
venneru, erba
centupedi
Ap Sedative after
childbirth
Sugared decoction 1 0.20 CS Sp, ca,
wa
Ap Tussis, cold Decoction (2 small
cups/day)
2 0.40 MT, SE
Anacardiaceae
Pistacia
lentiscus L. CLU1
Scine Re Diarrhoea of children Infusion 1 0.20 AC Tema
Ap Toothache Decoction 1 0.20 AC
Araliaceae
Hedera helix L. L'edira (CI) Le Tussis, chronic
bronchitis
Infusion 1 0.20 SS Wo, wa
Le Sores; burns + [21] Compresses with
the decoction
1 0.20 SG
Aspleniaceae
Ceterach
officinarum DC.
Erba dorata Le To ease menstrual
pains (1)
Decoction with A.
capillus-veneris to drink
after the menstruations
(1); decoction (2)
1 0.20 AC Wa, cl
Le Hypertension* (2) 1 0.20 AC
Boraginaceae
Borago
officinalis L. CLU3
Vurràina Le Food and laxative
use
Eaten boiled (in case
with spinach)
2 0.40 AC, CS Unc,
pig, co
Borragina Le Reddenings, burns,
sunburns
Cataplasms (fresh
boiled leaves)
1 0.20 AC
Le Tussis, rheumatisms
(1); refreshing
Decoction, Fle (1);
infusion
2 0.40 MT, SE
Pianta del coraggio Ap, Ft The old women
made drink the
ptisan to who had to
embark on an action
that implied courage
Ptisan (boil and
eliminate stinging hairs)
5 0.99 CI
Cynoglossum
sp.
Lingua ‘i cane Le Burns (to prevent
raised blister)
The leaves, placed in
ash and soaked in olive
oil, were applied
1 0.20 TA Me
Heliotropium
europaeum L.
Stazùina Ap Urinary
inflammations*
Prolonged decoction to
concentrate the juice; it
has to be drunk with sugar
1 0.20 CS Cu, ru
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Cactaceae
Opuntia ficus-
indica (L.)
Miller CLU4
Ficundianu Fl Antispasmodic Infusion 2 0.40 SE, MT Ru,
vega Stidda Fl Diuretic + [15] Infusion 1 0.20 SC, SE,
MT
Fr Antidiarrhoeic As food 1 0.20 SC
Paletta e
fucuniana
Cladophyll Bronchitis,
pulmonitis (used in
the past) + [5]
Place in oven, then
warm on the back, with
intense sweating/
elimination of the
catarrh
5 0.99 CI
Caprifoliaceae
Lonicera
caprifolium L.
Caprifoglio Le Diuretic Infusion 1 0.20 MT Oawo*
Fl Diuretic Decoction 1 0.20 SE
Le Mouth and throat
inflammations
Infusion or decoction
(mouthwashes/gargles)
3 0.59 MT, SE,
SS
Fl Dry tussis, asthma Infusion 1 0.20 CT
Fl Hiccup Infusion 1 0.20 SS
Le Sores, wounds Crushed leaves 1 0.20 SS
Sambucus nigra
L. CLU5
Maju Fl Insect bites Compresses with the
decoction
1 0.20 CS Ru, di,
to
Majiu Fl Toothache, colics, cold Ptisans with flowers
dried in the sun
5 0.99 CI
Sambucu Fl Antirheumatic Infusion (2–3 times/day) 1 0.20 MT
Fr Arteriosclerosis Decoction 1 0.20 SE
Fl, Le Fever Infusion 2 0.40 SS, CT
Ba Fever Decoction 2 0.40 SS, CT
Fr Purgative Jam, juice 2 0.40 SS, CT
Compositae
Achillea millefolium L. Formichella Ap Emmenagogue Decoction 1 0.20 AC Dame
Bellis perennis L. Margheritina Le, fl Antidolorific
(contusions, sprains)
Apply minced
flowers and leaves
2 0.40 MT, SE Me
Le, fl Bronchial catarrh Infusion 2 0.40 MT, SE
Le, fl Mouth and throat
inflammations
Infusion (mouthwashes) 2 0.40 MT, SE
Calendula arvensis L.
CLU6
Calentula Fh Wounds, contusions,
burns
Decoction 2 0.40 SC, CT Ru,
sume
Fh, le Antiseptic, astringent
(diarrhoeas)*
Ptisan 5 0.99 CI
Le On sores and wounds External use 5 0.99 CI
Cichorium intybus L. Cicoria Ro Laxative, diuretic Warm infusion 1 0.20 AC Unc, ru
Le Lack of appetite,
constipation
Food use (children) 1 0.20 AC
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Table 1 (continued)
Family/scientific name
(voucher specimen)
Local name Used part
a
Use
b
Manipulation and way of use
c
Citations Locality
d
Habitat
e
(n) (%)
Cynara cardunculus
L. subsp. scolymus
(L.) Hayek
Gracciòffola Dle Liver diseases Decoction 1 0.20 CS Cu
Le Gallstones Infusion 1 0.20 AC
Cacioffola St, le Febrifuge *,
antirheumatic *
Decoction 1 0.20 MT
Helichrysum italicum
(Roth) G. Don fil.
Ft Bronchitis,
pharyngitis
Infusion or powder
mixed to honey
2 0.40 CT, SG Drme
Inula viscosa (L.)
Aiton CLU7
Ro Skin irritations of
allergic origin
Decoction 1 0.20 SC Unc, ru,
caso
Ro Respiratory diseases
(decongestant)
Decoction
(fumigations)
1 0.20 SC
Spulitru Ap To stop a
haemorrhage +
[1,22,26]
For cuts, e.u.
(since the plant
is sticky)
5 0.99 CI
Lactuca sativa L.
CLU8
Lattuga Le Antiodontalgic Small pieces
were placed
on the decayed tooth
1 0.20 GT Cu
Dle Antiodontalgic Ptisan 5 0.99 CI
Le Galactagogue +
[5,16]
Decoction 1 0.20 AC
Le Refreshing, laxative,
sedative
Decoction
(3 glasses/day)
2 0.40 MT, SE
Matricaria
chamomilla L.
Galumedda, camomilla Fh Digestive, sedative,
antispasmodic
Decoction 1 0.20 CS Cu, ru
Fh To soothe the tussis Decoction with
mallow flowers
1 0.20 AC
Silybum marianum
(L.) Gaertner
Cardu marianu Le Haemorrhoids (e.u.) *,
diuretic (i.u.)
Decoction (e.u.);
infusion (i.u.)
1 0.20 MT Unc, ru
Tanacetum vulgare L. Ap, Se Antihelmintic (1),
digestive (2)
Infusion, Ap (1);
chewed, Se (2)
1 0.20 CT Ru
Taraxacum officinale
Weber
Ricottedda, Cicorione Le, ro Tonic, laxative,
depurative
Decoction 3 0.59 CS, MT,
SE
Unc,
me
Convolvulaceae
Calystegia silvatica
(Kit.) Griseb.
Erba di periculu Le, ro Purgative Infusion 1 0.20 SC He, da
Le, ro Haemorrhoids Infusion
(fumigations)
1 0.20 SC
Calystegia sepium
(L.) R. Br.
Campanelle Le Laxative Infusion 2 0.40 MT, SE He, da
Crassulaceae
Umbilicus horizontalis
(Guss.) DC.
Cuoccolo Le To eradicate
calluses and chilblains
Heated leaves
were applied
1 0.20 AC Wa, roc
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Cruciferae
Brassica oleracea L. Cavolo Le Sprains, tendinitis Heated leaves were applied 1 0.20 GT Cu
Le Chilblains, varicose
veins
Boiled leaves for compresses
(warm c. on chilblains;
3–4 times/day on
varicose veins)
1 0.20 AC
Erysimum cheiri (L.)
Crantz
Violaciocca Fl Diuretic, cardiotonic Infusion (3 cups/day
with meals)
1 0.20 MT Wa
Cucurbitaceae
Cucumis melo L. Milune ‘i pane Se Intestinal refreshing Drink the milky liquid
obtained from crushed seeds
(“simenta”) placed in a small
bag and left a little time in water
1 0.20 CS Cu
Cucumis sativus L. Citrulu
cerulo
Fr Skin irritation of
children
Some slices were rubbed
onto the skin
1 0.20 CS Cu
Rfr Burns, haemorrhoids,
skin diseases
Squashed pulp applied as a
decongestant
1 0.20 AC
Se Vermifugue + [16] Decoction 1 0.20 AC
Fr Intestinal inflammations Cooked fruit 1 0.20 SC
Cucurbita pepo L.
CLU9
Cocuzza; the seeds:
simenta
Se To eliminate taenia Dry or peeled seeds, crushed and
mixed with honey (in case with
castor oil) are eaten
2 0.40 CS, AC Cu
Se Hernia and tumours
of the prostate
Preventive; way as above
(without castor oil)
5 0.99 CI
Ericaceae
Arbutus unedo L. Le Antidiarrhoeic Decoction 2 0.40 CT, SS Tema
Fagaceae
Castanea sativa
Miller CLU12
Castagno Le Sore throat Infusion (gargles) 1 0.20 AC Oawo*
Le, Frb Bronchitis, pertussis
(1), shampoo (2)
Infusion with Le (1),
decoction with Frb (2)
2 0.40 MT, SE
Le Skin inflammations Decoction 2 0.40 CT, SS
Quercus frainetto Ten. Cerqua Fr Catarrh (children) Decoction 1 0.20 AC Mewo
Le Acne See Juglans regia 1 0.20
Quercus virgiliana
(Ten.) Ten. CLU13
Cerza Ba It was used by the
elderly as a remedy
against fever */dysentery
Decoction 3 0.59 CI Oawo*
Gramineae
Arundo donax L.
CLU14
Canna Beside Emostatic,
cicatrising (wounds)
Apply the membrane of
knots of dry reed
2 0.40 SI (CS) Di,
edwa
Sa Pertussis * A little sugared glass of red sap
(cut ‘with sunset’ under the knot
but left attached to the roots)
is drunk 3 times/day
1 0.20 LT
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Table 1 (continued)
Family/scientific name
(voucher specimen)
Local name Used part
a
Use
b
Manipulation and way of use
c
Citations Locality
d
Habitat
e
(n) (%)
Rh Anti-galactagogue Decoction 1 0.20 AC
Rh Sudorific, febrifugue Decoction 3 0.59 AC, SC,
CT
Rh Cistitis * Decoction 1 0.20 CT
Cynodon dactylon
(L) Pers. CLU15
Gramigna Ap To alleviate rheumatic pains Decoction 5 0.99 CI Cu, ru
Rh Inflammations of the digestive and
genital–urinary apparatuses
(diuretic,‘refreshing’; renal colics)
Decoction (macerate the rhizome
for 2 h in water before using
in order to eliminate the
bitter substances: MT, SE)
7 1.39 AC, MT,
SE, SC,
CT, SS,
SG
Rh Mild laxative Decoction with Lactuca sativa,
Artemisia sp.
and peduncles of Prunus avium fruits
1 0.20 AC
Hordeum vulgare L. Uriu Se Throat inflammations + [24,25] Gargles with prolonged decoction 2 0.40 CS, AC Cu
F Abscesses, skin inflammations Lenitive poultices 1 0.20 AC
Juglandaceae
Juglans regia L. CLU17 Noce Le Acne + [18] Fumigations with decoction of leaves
(one handful) and Quercus frainetto bark
1 0.20 AC Wo, di
Hu To remove calluses* Footbaths with the decoction 1 0.20 AC
Hu Vermifugue * Dried in oven, ground
and given in a wafer
1 0.20 AC
Le Vermifugue (taenia) * Infusion 1 0.20 CT
Le Antidiarrhoeic Infusion 1 0.20 SS
Labiatae
Calamintha nepeta
(L.) Savi Mat3
Nipitella Fle Against insect and snake bites Leaves are crushed and squeezed, then the
juice is applied on the skin
1 0.20 VA Drme
Lavandula angustifolia
Miller
Spicanardo Ft Sores *, burns * (cicatrizing) Decoction for compresses 2 0.40 CT, SC Cu
Ft Insect bites As above 2 0.40 CT, SC
Marrubium vulgare L. Menta
selvatica
Ft Catarrh, asthma, liver diseases Infusion 2 0.40 MT, SE Drme,
ru
Ft Digestive; to regulate
menstruations *
Macerate for 10 days in white wine 2 0.40 MT, SE
Le Skin inflammations + [13] Infusion (external use) 2 0.40 MT, SE
Melissa officinalis L. Melissa Le Aphrodisiac One handful in 1 l of wine 1 0.20 AC Bu
Ft, le Headache Compresses with fresh
minced parts in linen
1 0.20 AC
Mentha spicata L. Mat4 Amenta Le Intestinal worms Juice extracted by
crushed leaves (e.u.)
1 0.20 VA Dame
Le Vermifugue (children); migraine Infusion or decoction (i.u.)
(1); infusion (2)
1 0.20 AC
Menta Ap Refreshing, perfume, antisudorific It was put under the armpits (girls) 5 0.99 CI
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Ocimum basilicum L.
CLU18
Vasilicò Le Digestive Infusion (after meals) 1 0.20 MT Cu
Vasinucolu Le Mouth/throat inflammations + [16] Concentrated infusion–
mouthwashes/gargles
1 0.20 MT
Le Food anti-stress Elder women given it
to tired people
5 0.99 CI
Origanum heracleoticum L.
CLU19
Rigunu Le Against meteorism and as a digestive Infusion 5 0.99 CI Drme
Rosmarinus officinalis L.
CLU20
Rosmarino Br To ripen abscesses quickly Compresses with
concentrated decoction
1 0.20 AC Sa,
tema
Le Rheumatic pains Infusion in the morning 1 0.20 AC
Le It speeds up the recovery of sores Powdered and mixed to olive oil 1 0.20 MT
Le, fl Sores *, wounds Decoction 1 0.20 SC
Le, fl Intestinal infections* Infusion 1 0.20 SC
Rosimarinu Le, fl Carminative, digestive Ptisan (digestive with oreganum) 5 0.99 CI
Salvia officinalis L.
CLU21
Sarvia Le Tussis, asthma Infusion 2 0.40 MT, SE
Le, fl Sores, wounds (1); digestive (2) Decoction in water and
wine (or beer); decoction
(compresses) (e.u.) (1);
infusion (2)
4 0.79 MT, SE,
CT, SG
Le Aphtas, stomatitis Decoction (mouthwashes) 2 0.40 CT, SG
Sarbia Dle Antiasthmatic Used by elderly to
make cigarettes
5 0.99 CI
Lauraceae
Laurus nobilis L.
CLU22
Làvuru Le Digestive, intestinal pains Decoction 2 0.40 CS Tewo
Lauro Le Mild sedative Infusion with chamomile
and honey
1 0.20 SC
Fr Haemorrhoids + [18], contusions,
rheumatisms (1); antisudorific (2)
Macerate in olive
oil (e.u.) (1); decoction
(footbaths) (2)
1 0.20 AC
Lauru Le Menstrual/paunch pains,
meteorism
Infusion 5 0.99 MT, SE
SC
Le Used by elderly against malaria They drank many lt.(ptisan)/day
with quinine
5 0.99 CI
Le Galactagogue * Ptisan (once largely used
by women who
had just given birth)
5 0.99 CI
Leguminosae
Cytisus scoparius (L.)
Link
Ainosta Fl, br Diuretic White wine (1 l) prepared
with cinder of branches and
flowers closed for
4 days in a small bag in
the wine (1 glass 3–4 times/day)
1 0.20 MT Ma
Fl Abscesses (1); rheumatisms (2) Poultice (1); decoction (2) 1 0.20 MT
Glycyrrhiza glabra L. Liquirizia Ro Antitussive (1), cold (2) Infusion (1),
fumigations (2)
1 0.20 AC Unc
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Table 1 (continued)
Family/scientific name
(voucher specimen)
Local name Used part
a
Use
b
Manipulation and way of use
c
Citations Locality
d
Habitat
e
(n) (%)
Phaseolus vulgaris L. Fagiuoli Se Skin inflammations * Poultices of fresh cooked
squashed seeds
1 0.20 AC Cu
Spartium junceum L. Jinostra Fl On wounds due
to the bite of snakes
Applied as first aid 1 0.20 AC Ma
Vicia faba L. Fava Fl Urinary diseases*, renal colics* Decoction 1 0.20 CT Cu
Liliaceae
Allium cepa L. CLU24 Cipolla Bl Insect bites (wasps etc.) It was rubbed onto the skin 3 0.59 CA, CT,
SS
Cu
Cipuddina Bl Tussis Decoction 1 0.20 GT
Bl Styes (applied on the temples)* Crushed/applied with a red cloth 1 0.20 CS
Bl Flu * Macerate two onions in half lt of water 1 0.20 CT
Bl Antidiarrhoeic, vermifugue Decoction 2 0.40 CT, SS
Cipudda Bl Headache (the product was named
‘u trempalu’, from the temples)
Slices of onion were put
on the temples,
binding the head
with a handkerchief
5 0.99 CI
Allium sativum L.
CLU25
Aglio Blcl Insect bites They were rubbed onto the skin 1 0.20 GT Cu
Agghiu Bl Neuralgias,
calluses, rheumatisms
Crushed and covered with olive oil 1 0.20 CS
Agliu Bl Rheumatisms Crushed, mixed with pig fat,
applied warm
2 0.32 CS, AC
Bl Vermifugue (taenia) Infusion (2–3 bulbs) in
sugared water, milk or
broth, to drink every
morning on an empty stomach
8 1.58 CS, AC,
MT SE,
CT, SS,
SG, SC
Bl Hypotensive Infusion 1 0.20 AC
Bl Calluses, tinea, scabies* Poultice of crushed garlic with oil 2 0.40 MT, SE
Bl Teeth affected by decay Minced for local use 1 0.20 MT
Bl Cold, diarrhoea Eat the raw bulb 2 0.40 CT, SS
Achjia Bl Hypotensive Eat the raw or cooked bulb 5 0.99 CI
Bl Against tooth decay of boys It was eaten raw and chewed
for a long time
5 0.99 CI
Bl Intestinal worms (used
in the past)
Minced with parsley for children 5 0.99 CI
Aloe vera L. Aloe Lej Pains due to the arthrosis* A part of the cut leaf was applied 1 0.20 AC Cu
Loranthaceae
Viscum album L.
subsp. album
Vischio Le, br Hypertension, leucorrhea Decoction (i.u.) 1 0.20 MT Pa
Le, br Chilblains, skin with chaps Decoction (e.u.) 1 0.20 MT
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Malvaceae
Malva sylvestris L.
CLU27
Màliva Le Pimples, abscesses Compresses with boiled leaves 1 0.20 CS Unc,
ru, edro Malba Le Pimples (1);
laxative for elderly and
convalescents (2)
Decoction also with sugar and
pork fat to apply as a mask (1);
decoction (2)
4 0.79 AC, SC,
SS, CT
Marva Le Dislocations (1); mastitis (2) To apply boiled leaves (1);
decoction (e.u.) (2)
1 0.20 AC
Selvatica Yle Slimming Infusion 2 0.40 MT, SE
Le, fl Tussis, gastro-
intestinal diseases
Infusion 2 0.40 MT, SE
Fl Aphtas Infusion (mouthwashes) 2 0.40 MT, SE
Le, fl Mouth/gums/throat
inflammations
Decoction (mouthwashes or
gargles)/poultice
2 0.40 SC, CT
Marva Le Menstrual/paunch pains,
toothache
Ptisan 5 0.99 CI
Moraceae
Ficus carica L. CLU28 Ficu janco DFr Tussis Decoction (also with nettle
and almond peel)
3 0.48 CS, SC,
CT
Ru, wa
La Warts (1); honey-bees bites (2) Applied until when warts
become soft
and can be removed with
warm water (1); e.u. (2)
1 0.20 AC
Fr Aphtas Mouthwashes /gargles of figs
cooked in milk
1 0.20 AC
Fr Laxative Cooked in milk or raw
in the morning
2 0.40 SC, CT
Fr To ripen abscesses and pimples Divided in half and applied 2 0.40 SC, CT
La Calluses, warts Put several times/day onto the skin 2 0.40 SC, CT
Humulus lupulus L. Luppino Fi Aperitif, digestive (1);
sedative (2)
Infusion (1, 2) (to drink
before meals: 2)
1 0.20 MT He
Myrtaceae
Myrtus communis L.
CLU29
Murzìla (CS),
murtidda (MR, CI)
Dle Reddening of the skin The fine powder of crushed
leaves is used as talc
2 0.40 CS, MR Tema
Fr Digestive Macerate in absolute alcohol 5 0.99 CI
Oleaceae
Olea europaea L. Olivo Le Hypotensive Decoction 1 0.20 AC Tema,
cu Rfr To ripe pimples Apply squashed olives 3 0.59 AC, CT,
SS
Le Sores + [18], wounds Decoction for washes 1 0.20 CT
Ba Astringent Decoction 1 0.20 MT
Oi Constipation (1); small burns (2) In the morning, i.u.(1);
with lime water (2)
2 0.40 CT, SS
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Table 1 (continued)
Family/scientific name
(voucher specimen)
Local name Used part
a
Use
b
Manipulation and way of use
c
Citations Locality
d
Habitat
e
(n) (%)
Papaveraceae
Chelidonium majus L. La Warts, calluses, callosities Topic use 2 0.40 CT, SS He, ru
Le Gastric pains * Infusion 1 0.20 CT
Papaver somniferum L.
CLU30
U sonnu Se, Fr For restless children or too
“warm” husbands.
Capsules (‘capiceddi’) were
gathered in a true ritual.
Decoction. In summer
all the women left
the houses at the
beginning of the morning,
in order to go to the places
where the plant grew and to
stockpile it in baskets
5 0.99 CI Fi, esc
Passifloraceae
Passiflora incarnata L. Fiore della passione Ap Haemorrhoids*, burns*, skin
inflammations*
Compresses with infusion 1 0.20 MT Cu
Pinaceae
Abies alba Miller Abituni Bu Bronchitis Infusion 2 0.40 MT, SE Bewo,
tuwo Br Deodorant Footbaths with decoction 2 0.40 MT, SE
Pinus halepensis Miller Pinu Le Bronchitis Decoction 2 0.40 MT, SE Roc
Bu Joint inflammations Infusion (bath) 2 0.40 MT, SE
Pinus laricio Poiret Pino Bu Tussis, pertussis Fumigations; decoction with
Lactuca sativa Le,
Rosa sp. Bu, Sambucus nigra Fl
1 0.20 AC Roc
Re Eczema* Apply locally 1 0.20 AC
Plantaginaceae
Plantago major L. Frunna ‘i Le Pimples, abscesses Topic application
to ripe them
1 0.20 CS Ro, ru,
da
Cintunirvi Se Antidiarrhoeic Cooked in soup 2 0.40 CT, SS
Peltinervia Le, Ap Wounds (1), eye
inflammations (2)
Apply crushed leaves (1),
washings, ptisan (2)
2 0.40 CT, SG
Plumbaginaceae
Plumbago europaea L. Noce cattiva Ap Toothache* Fumigations with the decoction 1 0.20 AC He, ru
Polypodiaceae
Polypodium sp. Filiciu Le Sores provoked by severe
burns + [30]
Ointment made up with cinder of
burnt leaves mixed with olive oil
1 0.20 CS Roc
Portulacaceae
Portulaca oleracea L.
CLU31
Purchiacchia Ap Gum reddening Infusion of fresh aerial parts 1 0.20 MT Cu, ru
Le Fever Apply on brow and temples 1 0.20 MT
Prucchjiaca Ap Reconstituent (boys) In salad 5 0.99 CI
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Ranunculaceae
Ranunculus ficaria L. Favucello Ro Haemorrhoids +
[9,20], rhagas
Infusion (external use) 1 0.20 MT Dame
Rosaceae
Crataegus monogyna
Jacq.,C. oxyacantha L.
Biancospino Le Child diarrhoeas + [18] Decoction 1 0.20 MT Bu
Fl, fr Antidiarrhoeic Infusion 1 0.20 SS
Fragaria vesca L. Fragola Le Diarrhoea; mouth/
throat diseases
Decoction (1, 2) 1 0.20 SS Cle
Prunus dulcis
(Miller) D.A.Webb
Mìnnula Frb Tussis Decoction of exocarps (also with
white figs, nettle and O. ficus-indica
peel without thorns)
1 0.20 CS Ru,
vega
Al Intestinal refreshing Crushed /filtered: milk of
almond (‘lattata’)
1 0.20 CS
Al Urticaria, itches Apply finely crushed seeds 1 0.20 AC
Amendula Al (oi) Good laxative One spoon in the morning 4 0.79 MT, SE
etc.
Frpu Skin inflammations Apply the pulp of squashed fruits
with milk
2 0.40 SC, CT
Le, fl Tussis, fever Infusion 2 0.40 SC, CT
Prunus persica (L.) Batsch Pesco Fl Sedative Decoction also in milk 1 0.20 AC Ru,
vega
Pyrus amygdaliformis Vill. Piraino Fr Warts A part of the cut fruit is applied
with the stalk
1 0.20 AC Tema
Rosa canina L. Frunna ‘i Le Pimples, abscesses Topic application to make ripe them 1 0.20 CS He, wo
Rosa Fr Stomach pains, headache Decoction (+ Malva sp. and
Sambucus nigra)
1 0.20 AC
Rubus ulmifolius Schott Ruvetto Le Intestinal astringent Decoction, 2–3 cups /day 2 0.40 MT, SE Ma, ru
Le To wash wounds Decoction 2 0.40 CT, SS
Rutaceae
Citrus aurantium L. Portugallu Le Sedative, digestive Infusion 2 0.40 MT, SE Cu
Frb Aperitif, dyspepsias Infusion 2 0.40 MT, SE
Frb Aperitif, digestive* Decoction (with unripe fruits)* 1 0.20 SC
Fl As above Infusion 1 0.20 SC
Citrus bergamia Risso
et Poit.
Bergamotto Eoi
(le, frb)
Cicatrizing and antiseptic for
wounds and chilblains
It was used diluted 1 0.20 SC Cu (Io)
Eoi Anomalous vaginal secretions It was used diluted (for irrigations) 1 0.20 SC
Eoi As a contraceptive (used in
the past)
Women used 5 drops of essential
oil diluted in water for washings
1 0.20 SC
Citrus limon (L.) Burm f. Limùnu Frj Tussis Juice diluted in water
previously boiled (i.u.)
1 0.20 GT Cu
Fr Slimming agent; chilblains Juice (i.u.) (1); slices applied
on the skin (2)
1 0.20 CS
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Table 1 (continued)
Family/scientific name
(voucher specimen)
Local name Used part
a
Use
b
Manipulation and way of use
c
Citations Locality
d
Habitat
e
(n) (%)
Fr Migraine (after drunkenness) Put a segment in a cup of
strong coffee
1 0.20 AC
Frj Migraine, toothache Dose: a cup of coffee 1 0.20 MT
Fr Rheumatisms Eat lemons 1 0.20 AC
Frj Digestive; oral hollow diseases Warm juice, i.u. (1);
mouthwashes/gargles (2)
1 0.20 SC
Ruta chalepensis L.
CLU33
Ruta Ap It was used by elder women
against the ‘evil eye’; until now
amulets are
obtained from it.
No precise modality (the rituals
are still today
handed down only
during the night of
Christmas or of the Epiphany)
4 0.79 CI Drme,
wa
Ap Intestinal parasites
of children; the ritual
was accompanied by a
propitiatory prayer.
The rue macerated in olive oil
was sprinkled on the abdomen
of the child, with circular massages.
4 0.79 CI
Ap Gastritis Decoction with rosemary leaves 1 0.20 AC
Le Abscesses; rheumatic pains + [5] Apply crushed leaves with oil 1 0.20 AC
Le Eye reddening Decoction (compresses) 1 0.20 AC
Ap Intestinal inflammations Infusion 2 0.40 CT
Ruta sp. Ap To protect a child from ‘evil eye’ Put in a small heart-shaped cloth bag 1 0.20 LT
Ruta graveolens L. Aruta Ap Rheumatisms + [5], lumbagos Small pieces are macerated in olive
oil to make liniments
1 0.20 CS Drme
Scrophulariaceae
Scrophularia canina L.
CLU34
Erva lupara Ap The women who breast fed used it
against rhagas * in the breasts
The plant was collected
on Friday and
placed on the wound
5 0.99 CI Sa, gr,
st
Ap To treat wounds* and
haematomas,
to mature abscesses
and fistulas
The plant was boiled and the juice
employed for
antiseptic washings
5 0.99 CI
Verbascum thapsus L.
V. phlomoides L.
Tassu Le, fl Bronchial catarrh Infusion (to filter before using
in order to eliminate the hairs)
2 0.40 MT, SE Drme
Verbascum thapsus L
CLU35
Lingua e voiju Le Tussis, cold The mucilaginous
decoction was drunk
5 0.99 CI Drme
Le In case of haemorrhoids Warm compresses with the decoction 5 0.99 CI
Solanaceae
Capsicum annuum L.
var. acuminatum Fing.
Pipa amaru,
pipareddu
Fr Revulsive Poultice 2 0.40 MT, SE Cu
Solanum tuberosum L.
CLU37
Patata, patana Tu Headache (slices on
the temples)
Slices (in case to
moisten with vinegar)
6 1.19 CI, GT,
AC
Cu
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Tu Burns The application avoids
formation of blisters
7 1.39 CS, CI,
etc.
Tu Insect bites Tubers are rubbed to
soothe the swelling
1 0.20 CS
Tu Eye swelling Local application 1 0.20 AC
Umbelliferae
Apium graveolens L. Accia Fle Sores*, bruises* Apply minced leaves 1 0.20 AC Cu
Ro Strongly diuretic Decoction 1 0.20 MT
Daucus carota L. subsp.
sativus (Hoffm.) Arcangeli
Carota Le Dermatitis Infusion 1 0.20 AC Cu
Prestinaca Ro Burns, sores Poultice (grated pulp) 3 0.59 MT, SE,
SS
Fr Aperitif, digestive Infusion 1 0.20 MT
Fr Vermifugue * Decoction 2 0.32 CT, SS
Foeniculum vulgare
Miller subsp.
piperitum (Ucria) Coutinho
Finocchio Fr Eye inflammations Lenitive compresses (infusion) 1 0.20 AC Drme,
ru Finocchio e Fr Emmenagogue Infusion 1 0.20 AC
timpa Ap Eye inflammations
and swelling
Infusion with chamomile 2 0.40 MT, SE
Petroselinum crispum
(Miller) A.W. Hill
Pitrusinu Le Laxative for children
(cummistùlo)
Leaves linked with a hair
(local use)
1 0.20 CS Cu
Petrosino To Laxative for children Same use with crushed tops
mixed with oil
1 0.20 AC
Le, st To stop the milk flow
in a woman
who had just given birth
Apply on the breasts a poultice
of crushed
fresh leaves and stems
2 0.40 AC, CT
Petrosinu Le Wounds, sores Poultice with crushed leaves 2 0.40 MT, CT
Ap Amenorrhoea Decoction 1 0.20 CT
Ap Flu * Drink juice of the plant with
warm milk
1 0.20 SS
Le Insect bites Rub some crushed leaves 3 0.59 CT, SS,
AC
Pimpinella anisum L. Anice Fr Galactagogue Infusion 1 0.20 AC Cu
Urticaceae
Parietaria officinalis L.,
P. diffusa Mert. et Koch
Erva ‘i vintu Le Bruises, swelling due to knocks Apply crushed leaves in gauze 1 0.20 CS Ru, wa
Muraiola Ro Diuretic, renal and vescical stones Decoction, infusion 2 0.40 AC, CT
Ap Abscesses, burns Wiped and crushed.
Apply a poultice.
1 0.20 AC
Erva e muru Le Depurative, cholagogue Infusion 1 0.20 MT
Erba di vento Ap Burns, skin inflammations Decoction (compresses) 2 0.40 CT, SS
Urtica dioica L. CLU40 Ortica Ap Rheumatisms Infusion drunk for 40 days, in the
morning
1 0.20 AC Ru
Pj Nose haemorrhages Apply locally juice of fresh plant 2 0.40 CT, SS
Urtica membranacea
Poiret
Lurdìca Ap Tussis* Sugared decoction (internal use) 1 0.20 CS Ru
Ap Tonsillitis*, gum inflammations Decoction for gargles 1 0.20 CS
(continued on next page)
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Table 1 (continued)
Family/scientific name
(voucher specimen)
Local name Used part
a
Use
b
Manipulation and way of use
c
Citations Locality
d
Habitat
e
(n) (%)
Valerianaceae
Centranthus ruber (L.) DC. Valeriana rossa Rh Sedative Infusion (some spoons) 1 0.20 MT Wa, roc
Rh Febrifuge Decoction 1 0.20 MT
Violaceae
Viola sp. Viola Le Cicatrizing agent for sores * Crushed leaves in milk 1 0.20 MT Me
Vitaceae
Vitis vinifera L. Vite Le Haemorrhages⁎ after menopause Infusion with Fumaria officinalis 1 0.20 AC Cu
Sa Eye diseases + [13], gout,
rheumatism
Application of sap of
trimmed shoots
1 0.20 AC
Ci Depurative Decoction 1 0.20 AC
Comu Cold To drink warm 1 0.20 SC
a
Used parts: Al almonds; Ap aerial part; Ba bark; Bl bulb; Bl cl bulb cloves; Br branches; Bu buds; Ci cirruses; Cl cloves; Comu cooked must; Dfh dry flower heads; Dfr dry fruits; Dle dry leaves; Eoi
essential oil; Ep entire plant; F flour; Fbu flowery buds; Fh flower heads; Fi feminine inflorescences; Fl flowers; Fle fresh leaves; Fr fruit; Frb fruit bark; Frpu fruit pulp; Frj fruit juice; Ft flowery tops;
Hu husk; La latex; Le leaves; Lej leave juice; Oi oil; Pj plant juice; Re resin; Rfr ripe fruit; Rh rhizome; Ro root; Sa sap; Sc scales; Se seeds; St stem; To tops; Tu tuber; Yle young leaves; Ys young
sprouts.
b
Use + uncommon uses; *new uses.
c
Way of use: e.u. external use; i.u. internal use.
d
Locality: AC Acri; AR Ardore; CA Campana; CI Cirò; CR Crùcoli; CS Castrovillari; CT Cittanova; GT Gioia Tauro; LT Lamezia Terme;MT Montauro; MR Morano; SC Scilla; SE S.Elia; SG S.
Giorgio Morgeto; SI Siano; SS S.Stefano di Aspromonte; UM Umbriatico; TATarsia; VAVallefiorita.
e
Habitat: Be beachs; Bewo beech woods; Bu bush formations; Ca caves; Caso calcareous soils near to the water; Cl cliffs; Cla clayey grounds; Cle clearings; Co cowsheds; Cu cultivated species or
cultivations; Cu (Io) cultivated above all on the Ionian coast; Da damp areas; Dame = damp meadows; Di ditches; Drme dry meadows; Edro edges of roads; Edwa edges of water-courses; Edwo edges
of woods; Esc escaped from old cultivations; Fi fields; Gr gravels; He hedges; Ma maquises; Me meadows; Mewo mesophile woods; Mowo mountain woods; Oawo oak woods; Oawo⁎ oak woods
included Q. cerris woods; Pa parasite on trees (Rosaceae); Pig around the pigsties; Ro rocks; Ru ruins; Sa sandy places (grounds); Sl slopes with rocks and silt, areas with sand and silt facing West; Sp
springs; St stony grounds; Sucl sunny clearings; Sume sunny meadows; Tema termophile maquises; Tewo termophile woods; To along torrents; Tuwo Turkey oak woods; Unc uncultivated areas;
Uncda uncultivated damp areas along the coast; Vega vegetable gardens; Wa walls; Wo woods.
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4. Previous knowledge on local folk medicine and ethnobotany
From the ethnobotanical point of view Calabria is one of the less studied regions of Southern Italy. The only papers
existing for a few areas of this region are by Leporatti and Pavesi [2] and by Barone [3], and some information is also
furnished by Bernardo [4], La Sorsa [5] and Lupia [6].
5. Methodology
The enquiries were carried out in the last twenty years, using open interviews to farmers, shepherds and housewives.
More than 100 informants were interviewed, mostly over 50 years old. Some of these informants were advanced in
years: e.g. near Cirò 5 informants were between 90 and 96 years old, others were between 80 and 86 years old. The
identity of the plants was furnished by the informants by means of identification of the plants collected in the area or by
examination of fresh plants. Cited exsiccata are kept in the Herbarium of the Università della Calabria (CLU) and in the
Museo Nazionale Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, Rome (Mat). The taxa are reported according to Pignatti [7]; the data were
compared with Gastaldo [8], with the literature of the southern Italy and of the near Sicily [2–6,9–27], and with other
studies, in order to highlight novelties or concordances of uses.
6. Results
The uses of 104 plants belonging to 42 families are reported in Table 1. Plants are listed according to the families'
alphabetical order, even within them. The most represented families are: Compositae (12 species), Labiatae (9),
Rosaceae (8), Leguminosae (5), Umbelliferae (5), and Rutaceae (5).
Many recipes are based on plants utilized singularly or in association. The main plants used to treat a greater number
of small disorders are: Allium cepa, A. sativum, Citrus limon, Ficus carica, Laurus nobilis, Malva sylvestris, Parie-
taria diffusa, P. officinalis, Petroselinum crispum, Rosmarinus officinalis, Salvia officinalis, Sambucus nigra, Prunus
dulcis, Ruta sp. pl. Uses of typical plants of Calabria like P. laricio and Citrus bergamia are also described. A role of
panacea was assigned to some plants like mallow and rue. [28]. A medicinal plant for excellence was Scrophularia
canina (Crotone district), used for its antiinflammatory and antibiotic properties to treat rhagas on the breasts, wounds
and haematomas, to mature abscesses and fistulas. Its use has no confirmation in literature (it's a toxic species above all
employed in veterinary science) and its use for rhagas and wounds is unpublished. In Calabria it was used also as an
antimalaric agent, while the plant was a generic febrifuge [16,18]. In the cited literature a remarkable number of uses
(more than 30, see Table 1) has not been reported, e.g. the use of Ceterach officinarumdecoction in case of hypertension.
This diuretic species [8,10], is known in folk medicine in case of kidney stones [20–22,25]. The use of the decoction of
Heliotropium europaeum aerial parts for urinary inflammations is also new. Astringent and vulnerary species [8], is
rarely cited for therapeutical uses [20]. Gastaldo [8] doesn't name the medical use of Lonicera caprifolium flowers.
Inula viscosa, whose root decoction for skin inflammations and respiratory diseases is not reported in the consulted
texts, results poorly studied (antiphlogistic use [29], leaves for pimples and scratches [3]; essential oil with azulene).
Uncommon uses (see + in Table 1, followed by a bibliographic reference) are described for 15 plants (e.g. Polypodium
sp. for sores and burns ) [30]. Sometimes the use of one plant part is unusual: e.g. the infusion of Citrus aurantium
flowers is described as a digestive, whereas this practice is usually carried out with the bark of the unripe fruits. Some
uses also belong to the neighbouring Basilicata region. For example: Myrtus communis powdered leaves on reddened
skin [3,6]; Adiantum capillus-veneris in case of childbirth [2,24]; C. officinarum to soothe menstrual pains and Lactuca
sativa as an antiodontalgic [3]; Calystegia silvatica for haemorrhoids and S. canina for haematomas [2]. The use of a
certain number of plants is still actual: e.g. Solanum tuberosum is still employed to defeat headaches, for burns and
swelling. A medical use is reported also for the fruit of Pyrus amygdaliformis, tree used in southern Italy like rootstock
for fruit trees [22]. Some alimentary uses have curative valency too (e.g. Cucumis sativus fruit, boiled in case of
intestinal inflammations; Plantago major seeds, cooked in soup as an antidiarrhoeic). Near Cirò other officinal/toxic
plants were sensed, that do not have folk uses, e.g.: Delphinium halteratum, Ecballium elaterium, Ephedra distachja,
Lactuca virosa, Loranthus europaeus, Pancratium maritimum, Solanum nigrum.
Other plants were known for their toxicity such as Tanacetum vulgare and Erysimum cheiri [31]. Chelidonium
majus, C. bergamia, Cytisus scoparius, Papaver somniferum, Petroselinum sativum, Ruta sp. pl., were known to be
toxic according to the employment and to the doses. L. caprifolium fruits, if ingested, can provoke disturbances [32].
67 N.G. Passalacqua et al. / Fitoterapia 78 (2007) 52–68
7. Ritual uses
Some practices were associated to magic rituals. For example, the vermifugue use of the rue (Ruta sp. pl.) was
accompanied by a prayer, while the ritual for protecting children from the evil eye was secret and it was handed down
exclusively during the night of Christmas or Epiphany [16]. Arundo donax stem was cut ‘with sunset’ for therapeutical
purpose. The power in curing stomach pains was conferred to an odd number of branches of vine or to their decoction
put on the paunch of the patient. Eating particular figs in May 1, could safeguard against a bite or from an encounter
with snakes.
Acknowledgements
We thank Dr. M.L. Leporatti, Dr. Ameruso P., Malarico V., Iamello A, Capalbo M., Mannella G. and Mascianà B.A.
for the useful information, and all the people interviewed. Our thanks to Virginia Filippelli and to Luciana Mariotti for
the English language review.
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[5] La Sorsa S. Lares 1941;2:99.
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