You are on page 1of 16

Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

Ethnobotanical and ethnomedicinal uses of plants in the district of


Acquapendente (Latium, Central Italy)
Paolo Maria Guarreraa, , Gianluca Fortib , Silvia Marignolib
a

Museo Nazionale Arti e Tradizioni Popolari, Piazza Marconi 8-10, 00144 Roma, Italy
b Museo del Fiore, Piazza G. Fabrizio 17, 01021 Acquapendente (Vt), Italy

Received 6 November 2003; received in revised form 13 July 2004; accepted 8 September 2004
Available online 18 November 2004

Abstract
In the years 20022003 research was carried out concerning ethnomedicine in the Acquapendente district (Viterbo, Latium, central Italy),
an area so far less frequently studied from the perspective of plant folk traditions. The district, from the ethnobotanical point of view, shows
traces of the influences of the neighbouring regions. In this study 96 plant entities are described, belonging to 45 families, of which 64 are
employed in human medicine, 15 in veterinary medicine, 22 in the feeding of domestic animals, 5 as antiparasitics and 5 for other uses. Some
medicinal uses are linked to beliefs or residual forms of magic prescriptions (11 plants). Amongst the more notable uses the most interesting
are those of: Verbena ofcinalis (rheumatic pains, wounds), Juglans regia (antiparasitic use for cheeses), Santolina etrusca (antimoth use),
Stellaria media and Lupinus albus (birdseed for poultry and fodder for lambs), and Thymus longicaulis subsp. longicaulis (used to curdle
milk).
2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Ethnobotany; Latium; Italy

1. Introduction
Within the field of studies on the folk traditions of plants,
research was carried out into human and folk veterinary
medicine but also into animal feeding in the Acquapendente district (Viterbo, Latium). This is an area so far less
frequently studied from the ethnobotanical point of view:
placed in the extreme north of Latium, it is wedged between
Tuscany (Grosseto and Siena districts) and Umbria (Terni
district)(Fig. 1). Only a very few folk uses are described for
the territory by Guarrera (1994), in addition to some prescriptions of folk medicine referred to in an anthropological study
(Amici et al., 1991).
On the third Sunday of May each year in Acquapendente, the feast of Our Lady of the flower (Madonna del
Fiore) is celebrated, in which large tapestries of flowers
and leaves stuck onto wooden tablets (pugnaloni) are pre

Corresponding author.

0378-8741/$ see front matter 2004 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1016/j.jep.2004.09.014

pared. The preservation of a tradition concerning the spring


feasts, indicates how people in this area remain attached
to their roots. Decisive factors in deciding to conduct this
research on the ethnobotanical and ethnomedicinal uses of
plants were the presence in the area of a Museum of Natural History aimed specifically at preserving local traditions,
and of a protected zone, the Mount Rufeno Reserve which is
rich in unusual (Calluna vulgaris, Hottonia palustris, Pseudolysimachion barrelieri, Staehelina dubia, Vicia laeta) and
endemic species, e.g. Santolina etrusca. From the morphological point of view, the area, cut through by the Paglia river,
has areas of hills and low mountains ranging from 420 to
730 m a.s.l. The vegetation includes Quercus cerris, Quercus robur and Carpinus betulus woods, but also Castanea
sativa woods; riparian vegetation with Salix purpurea and
Populus alba; bushes with Pyracantha coccinea, Cytisus scoparius, Cytisus sessilifolius and Juniperus communis; meadows (also marshy), garrigues and pastures (Scoppola, 1998,
2000). The soil, eroded in some sectors, is clayey, arenaceous-

430

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

Fig. 1. The study area (district of Viterbo, Latium) and the neighbouring districts of central Italy (shaded in the left panel).

marly, calcareous-arenaceous, with partially volcanic base


(the Volsini Mounts and the volcanic Lake of Bolsena not
being far away). Rainfall can reach around 1000 mm/year
and the average temperature is 12 C, with a period of summer aridity limited to July, while the cold period lasts from
October to May (Scoppola, 2000).

2. Methodology
Field data were collected during the periods
wintersummer 2002 and springsummer 2003. Ethnobotanical information, mainly regarding the uses of wild
plants (although some folk uses of cultivated plants are also
reported) was collected through interviews. The informants
interviewed numbered 44 (11 men, 33 women) whose ages
ranged from 47 to 93 and who mainly belonged to families
which had strong links with traditional activities of the
area. Most of the interviewees (41) were aged over 50, of
whom: 4 were between 50 and 59, 11 between 60 and 69,
21 between 70 and 79, 4 between 80 and 89, and 1 over
90 years old. Only three informants were aged under 50.
Among the informants 31 were housewives of country and
mountain areas (sometimes involved in sheep rearing), 7
were farmers (of whom 2 were also shepherds), 2 building
workers, 2 teachers, l employee, l park-warden.
Interviews were carried out using fresh plant specimens.
Specimens were not required when we were talking of wellknown plants and mono-specific genuses, known by their
dialect names. Voucher specimens of the most uncommon
plants and tape-recordings of the interviews were collected
and deposited in the Herbarium of the Museo del Fiore (Acquapendente) and in the Museo Nazionale Arti e Tradizioni
Popolari (Rome).
In the interviews the informants were requested to furnish
for each plant: vernacular name, folk use (in human therapy,
in veterinary medicine and animal nourishment, anti-parasitic
uses, other uses of biological interest), the preparation and
parts used, period of gathering, related recipes, possible asso-

ciation with other plants. For the veterinary uses information


was requested concerning the species of animals treated.
In our paper we have then compared the folk phytotherapeutical data collected, and other ethno-botanical data,
with data present in pharmaco-botanical texts (Gastaldo,
1987; Schauenberg and Paris, 1977) and in the Italian ethnobotanical literature (Atzei et al., 1994; Ballero et al., 2001;
Bellomaria and Della Mora, 1985; Cappelletti, 1979; Leporatti and Corradi, 2001; Pieroni, 2000; Uncini Manganelli
and Tomei, 1999a, 1999b; Viegi et al., 2003 and references
therein; other references in the text). This has been done so as
to highlight uses not previously reported or rare uses possibly
described for other Italian areas.
In order to characterize the collected data in the context of
the influences of neighbouring Tuscany and Umbria, as well
as of the adjacent areas of Latium, comparison was made
with some recent ethnobotanical studies: (1) for the Viterbo
district (Latium), with the data collected by Guarrera (1994)
and by Amici (1992); (2) for Umbria with Nardelli (1987)
and Leporatti et al. (1985); (3) for Siena district (Tuscany)
with Ferri (1961, 19601961, 1977) and De Bellis (1988);
(4) for Grosseto district (Tuscany) with Chiavoni and Raffo
(1995), Mearelli and Tardelli (1995), Mambrini and Vicarelli
(1983). A comparison of the similarity of the ethnobotanical
uses of Acquapendente with the other, surrounding areas was
effected by counting the number of uses in common.

3. Results
The results of the research are reported in Table 1 . The
nomenclature of the listed plants follows Pignatti (1982);
plant families and species within each family are cited in
alphabetic order. In total 96 entities were listed, belonging
to 45 plant families, of which the more widely represented
are Compositae (13 species), Labiatae (7 species), Liliaceae
and Leguminosae (5 species). Among the plants of the local tradition 64 are related to folk human medicine, 15 to
veterinary medicine, 22 to the feeding of domestic animals,

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

431

Table 1
Ethnobotanical and ethnomedicinal uses of plants in the area of Acquapendente (Latium, Central Italy)
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen
Araceae
Arum italicum Miller
[A49]

Araliaceae
Hedera helix L. [A25]

Dialect names

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Traditional uses

N. inf.

Z`garo,
col`acce,
cole de serpe

Cooked or raw tubers,


sometimes the leaves

Used a fodder, especially in winter, for


pigs which, left free, hunt for the tubers. Greatly liked also by porcupins
(spinose)

Fodder

Edera

Aerial part

Placed on aching tooth with cotton


wool it makes the tooth fall out.
A handful of ivy macerated overnight
in a glass of water, then sieved and the
water drunk on an empty stomach, for
three consecutive days. Repeat after 3
days for a further three, suspend for 3
days and repeat for a further 3* .

Toothache

Liver obstruction

A decoction obtained from 23


branches was used for washing purposes (it was to be cut under a waxing
moon as then it produces strings)*
A warm strip applied, with oil, to the
stomach*
Decoction

To make girls hair


grow rapidly

Stomach-ache

Pneumonia

For throat infections

Eye inflammations

11

Resipola
complaints)

Leaves

Cannabaceae
Cannabis sativa L.

Canapa

Leafy branches

Strips of hemp
Seeds
Caprifoliaceae
Sambucus nigra L.
[A35]

Sambuco

Marrow (green part below the bark)

Flowers

Bark

Bark
Bark

Dried flowers
Bark
Green bark
Green bark
Inner bark

Flowers
Caryophyllaceae
Silene italica (L.) Pers.
[A11]
Stellaria media L.
[A10]

Str`goli,
str`toli
Occhio
pulcino

del

A decoction (5 ) is prepared with


579 leaves of wild violets and 3 internodes of the stem (first scraping off
the outer bark and using the green part
below) in 1/4 l. of water with three
spoonfuls of sugar. The decoction is
then used as a gargle *
Dried in sunlight in a glass jar, added
to boiling water to make washes (applied cold)
The external part is scraped off and
the green inner part is applied. To be
changed twice a day and used for 10
days.
As above*
The outer bark is removed and the
green part below boiled and cooled to
make bagnoli, poultices
Decoction (with lime-blossom) to be
drunk
See Rubus fruticosus*
Chopped
Ointment with beeswax or tips of fresh
brambles
Decoction with leaves of polmonite
(Pulmonaria ofcinalis), a little rosemary, chamomile, apple*
A decoction is made with mallow
(washes)

(skin

Used on sores
Eye inflammations

1
1

Coughs, colds, bronchitis


Inflammations
Sprains, water on the
knee
Scalds, haemorroids

Coughs, bronchitis

Toothache

1
1

Aerial part

Fed to pigs*

Fodder

Aerial part

Fed to hens, together with Parietaria


diffusa, it produces more eggs of a
bright red colour

Fodder

432

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

Table 1 (Continued )
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen
Chenopodiaceae
Beta vulgaris L. [A9]

Dialect names

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Traditional uses

N. inf.

Bietola,
etolone

Leaves

Applied to the throat when extremely


hot for 34 days, changed frequently.
Beet, placed between cloths, was
pressed with a very hot iron
Applied with mallow leaves*
Leaves blanched in boiling water*

Sore throat
On abscesses
Burns and scalds

Aerial part

Compresses with a decoction applied


with hemp (milk cows)

Sores on the necks

Aerial part
Aerial part

As above*
Fed to milk cows, also mixed with
lard, in small balls (veterinary use)
Used, together with lard, on the necks
of cattle (veterinary use)*
Absinth leaves or Fraxinus ornus bark
with crushed onions were soaked in
water, or a decoction prepared of
onions, hot peppers and a little salt to
make a paste together with bran (veterinary use for hens)*
Left in water on the eve of St.
Johns together with various perfumed
flowering herbs, including Santolina
etrusca
Poultices*
Decoction (as a diuretic)*

Teat sores
For problems of rumination
For inflammations
caused by the yoke
Intestinal infections
of hens which could
be fatal

1
2

Ritual use

Rheumatic pain
High blood pressure

1
1

The cooking water as a drink


Fed to hens and turkeys*
The extremely thorny plant was put
in milk
Put, together with flour, on aching
teeth*
Poultices with an infusion. The flowers were to be picked on before dawn
on the feat-day of St. John
Fomentation
Fried in oil for a few minutes with a
red-hot iron-shovel then strained. The
warm oil was used, by soaking cotton
wool then wrapping this in cloth and
massaging the ear several times a days
and before going to bed*
Placed in cupboards and wardrobes to
keep parassites at bay*

Depurant properties
Fodder
To curdle milk

3
1
1

Toothache

Eye inflammations

Colds
To give relief from
pain caused by
mumps or earache

1
2

Anti-parasitic

Magic-religious use

Fodder for pigs

Warts

bi-

Leaves
Leaves
Compositae
Achillea collina J.
Becker ex Reichenb.
[A38]
Artemisia absinthium L.
[A41]

Millefoglie,
millefoglio

Ascenzo,
ascenzio

Aerial part
Leaves

Balsamita major Desf.


[A40]

Erba
della
Madonna

Aerial part

Calendula ofcinalis L.
Cichorium intybus L.
[A44]

Calendula
Girasole (the
wild chicory)

Flower-heads
Leaves

Cynara cardunculus L.
subsp. cardunculus
Matricaria chamomilla
L. [A39]

Carciofo
selvatico
Camomilla

Leaves
Aerial part
Flower-heads
Flower-heads
Flower-heads

Flower-heads
Flower-heads

Santolina etrusca
(Lacaita) Marchi et
Dam. [A37]

Silybum marianum (L.)


Gaertner [A43]
Sonchus oleraceus L.
[A46], Sonchus
tenerrimus L.
Tragopogon pratensis
L. [A45]
Tussilago farfara L.
[A42]

Canfora

Aerial part

Cardo

Leaves and stems

Grespigno,
crisp`gnolo

Latex

Put in the water of St. John along


with numerous perfumed herbs*
These parts, when boiled, were mixed
with Arum italicum
External use

Barba de becco

Latex

Spread on cold sores (hands)*

Farfarella

Leaves

Decoction

1
2

Cicatrizing
ties
Coughs

proper-

1
1

1
1

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

433

Table 1 (Continued )
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen
Convolvulaceae
Calystegia sepium (L.)
R. Br.; Convolvulus
arvensis L.
Crassulaceae
Umbilicus rupestris
(Salisb.) Dandy
[A17]
Sempervivum tectorum
L.
Cruciferae
Brassica rapa L. subsp.
rapa
Eruca sativa Miller
[A16]
Nasturtium ofcinale
R.Br.
Sinapis alba L.

Cupressaceae
Cupressus
sempervirens L.

Juniperus communis L.
subsp. communis
Dioscoreaceae
Tamus communis L.

Dialect names

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Traditional uses

N. inf.

Vilucchia,
avv`ogliolo

Aerial part

The two species are fed to rabbits

Fodder

Campanelle
grosse

Leaves

Applied to wounds without the lower


skin

Cicatrizing

Sopravvivo

Aerial part

Used to be beaten and placed on the


brow with a handkerchief

Headache

Broccoletti di
rapa

Tuber

Chapped hands

Rucoletta

Leaves

Fodder for hens

Cucul`estro

Sprouts

The turnips are sliced, crushed and


mixed with wax, then spread on the
skin*
Increases laying in hens and makes
eggs yellower*
Eaten in salads

Diuretic

Rapastrella

Seeds

Compresses (toothache), or washes


with the decoction (mustard bath
soaking the feet in the decoction)*

Toothache or sore
feet

Cipresso

Berries

To strengthen children

Ginepro

Berries

Until the 1950s, grannies emerged


children of less than one year who
were not yet walking in an aromatic
liquid prepared using the berries of
cypresses, juniper berries and sage
leaves boiled in wine. It was believed
that this liquid strengthened childrens
legs*
See cypress*

To strengthen children

Tamaro

Fruit

For pains in the joints, rubbed onto the


skin
Rubbed onto the skin of domestic animals (veterinary use)

Aching bones

Aching bones

Rainwater lying in the hollow of


leaves was used in the morning on the
informants freckles when she was a
child: the freckles disappeared*

To remove freckles

Fruit
Dipsacaceae
Dipsacus fullonum L.
[A36]

Euphorbiaceae
Euphorbia lathyris L.
[A20]
Fagaceae
Castanea sativa Miller

Cardo

Euforbia

Whole plant

Sown in fields, it keeps moles away

Anti-parasitic

Castagno

Flour
Chestnuts
Acorns

See Lupinus albus*


Flour
Although bitter, in wartime they were
soaked and fed to pigs*
A decoction of oak-apples, bran, mallow, chamomile and virgin sheeps
whey was used for hip-baths*
Fed to pigs
In food for turkeys*

Fodder for sheep


Fodder for pigs
Fodder

3
3
5

For healing wounds


in newborn infants

Fodder
Fodder

20
1

A decotion was drunk in the morning


on an empty stomach
Decoction

Kidney/urinary complaints
Inflammations and
stomach/intestinal
pains

25

Quercus cerris L.

Cerro

Quercus pubescens L.
[A3]

Cerqua;
the
galls: pallucche verdi

Galls (oak-apples)

Acorns
Acorns
Gramineae
Cynodon dactylon (L.)
Pers.

Gramigna

Rhyzomes
Rhyzomes

12

434

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

Table 1 (Continued )
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen

Dialect names

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Traditional uses

N. inf.

Hordeum vulgare L.

Orzo

Rhyzomes
Kernels
Kernels

Drunk after labour


Galactagogue
Colitis

1
2
1

Triticum aestivum L.

Grano

Flour

Decoction*
Given to cows, with maize flour*
Decoction of pearl barley and C.
dactylon, to be drunk in the morning
A little flour was placed, at room temperature, on the damp stomach, or
flour and water was drunk each morning for five days
Chewed for a long time and applied
locally it helped pus emerge
Given to breast-feeding mothers*

Stomach ache, refreshing properties

Bruises (fingers)

To increase flow of
milk
Inflamed gums
To remove thorns

2
1
2

Wounds
Fodder

1
2

Nutritious and refreshing


Galactagogue
Fodder

Bread
Pasta
Bread crumbs
Kernel
Flour
Bread
Flour

Zea mays L.
Guttiferae
Hypericum perforatum
L.
Hippocastanaceae
Aesculus
hippocastanum L.
Juglandaceae
Juglans regia L. [A2]

Granturco

Bran
Kernels

Erba delli tagli

Aerial part

Decoction for compresses in animals


(the aerial part to be cut before the
sun is high)

Healing for wounds


(veterinary use)

Ippocastano

Seeds

Kept in pockets (magical use)

Cure for colds

Noce

Leaves

Until the 60s70s, used to wrap


cheeses (see Thymus longicaulis
subsp. longicaulis) which took on a
particular aroma. In storage, further
leaves were used to keep the cheeses
apart
Young mallow in oil

To aromatize cheese
and protect it from
dust and parasites

Lenitive use (scalds)

Extremely good fodder for fattening


rabbits*
Rubbed onto the skin as a repellant*
Fed with garlic to turkeys and chicks
(veterinary use)
Fumigations were prepared with eucalyptus leaves, the inflorescence and
buds of pines (gathered in the area
known as Sasseto), to which a pinch
of bicarbonate of soda was occasionally added*
Placed in linen with deodorant and
mild anti-moth properties*
In herb tea made with two pinches of
rosemary, Thymus longicaulis subsp.
longicaulis and wild strawberry
Smoked in a pipe together with sage
leaves*
See Cupressus sempervirens
Decoction (15 min) of seven
species: a handful of sage, one
chopped apple, a little aniseed, a pinch
of chamomile, a little lime-blossom,
raisins, two chopped figs, honey*

Fodder

Insect stings
Intestinal worms

1
1

Cure for colds

Mild moth repellent

Rheumatic pain

Asthma and colds

Coughs

3
1

Mallow
Labiatae
Ajuga reptans L. [A29]

Succhiam`ele

Aerial part

Calamintha nepeta (L.)


Savi

Mentuccia

Aerial part
Aerial part

Lavandula angustifolia
Miller

Sp`golo

Flowering tops

Flowering tops
Rosmarinus ofcinalis
L. [A31]

Rosmarino

Aerial part

Leaves
Salvia ofcinalis L.

Soaked and applied locally


Chewed, then placed for an entire
night on thorns in the skin
Applied with a cobweb*
Chicks were given bread soaked in water and wine*
Given with water to animals after
labour (veterinary use)*
Given to cows (veterinary use)*
Fed to hens together with wheat to
make eggs yellower*

Salvia

Leaves
Leaves

1
2

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

435

Table 1 (Continued )
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen

Dialect names

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Traditional uses

N. inf.

Clean leaves

Rubbed on teeth or chewed to clean


and strengthen them
Boiled for 20 min in (1/2) l of water,
add cream of tartar from barrels (50 g).
Use for repeated gargling while the
liquid is warm
Washes (decoction of sage and rosemary), to be repeated a few times a
day
Decoction with basil
In plasters together with chamomile
(it opens and draws them out)*

Toothpaste

To
clean
and
strengthen
teeth
(very effective)

Gingivitis,
throat

Leaves (large handful)

Leaves

Salvia verbenaca L.
[A32]

Raschiorea,
raschiurea,
rasorella, erba
del malocchio

Leaves
Leaves

Aerial part, leaves

Aerial part

Thymus longicaulis C.
Presl. subsp.
longicaulis [A30]

Sarap`ollo,
grepp`ello

Flowering tips

Aerial part

sore

Rheumatic pain
For curing cysts

1
1

Used externally (lower part) sometimes together with softened bread or


pork fat
With olive leaves, three pinches
(vaghe) of salt and a Candlemass
candle which has been blessed (magical use)*
Rennet used to be home-made. A
sheeps stomach was washed and milk
poured in. After drying, the plant
was added and the whole chopped
finely and placed in an earthenware
container. A pinch was put in a
strainer and then in the milk, after which various different flowers
were added (maggio)[Cytisus scoparius or Spartium junceum], Robinia
pseudacacia, Humulus lupulus) and
Clematis vitalba shoots, especially on
the morning of Ascension Day. The
cheese would be ready in 30 min and
was greased with oil (in the month of
June, with oil sediment, morca, or
rolled in ashes), placed in warm cinders to preserve it and prevent it from
becoming hard and then wrapped for a
few days in walnut leaves dried in the
shade which gave the cheese a particular flavour
See Rosmarinus ofcinalis

Abscesses, pimples
and infected wounds

21

To remove the evil


eye

Cheese-making

15

Lauraceae
Laurus nobilis L.

Alloro, lauro

A few leaves

Infusion with 5 leaves and lemon peel


cut in lengths boiled for 10 min

Stomach ache

Leguminosae
Cytisus scoparius (L.)
Link [A19]

Scopa; i fiori:
maggio

Branches

Veterinary cure in
cases of tympanites

10

Lupinus albus L.

Lupino

Seeds

Erba medica
Fagiolo

Aerial part
Seeds

As feed to make
lambs grow
Galactogogue
Thyroid problems

Medicago sativa L.
Phaseolus vulgaris L.

Tied to the mouth of swollen sheep


after they had eaten alfalfa, it was
chewed and digested. The bitterness
of broom was considered extremely
efficacious. Moreover, air was eliminated through chewing as the branches
forced the sheep to keep their mouths
open. Occasionally bundles of hay
soaked in water were also tied to the
animals backs. The swelling went
down in two hours
First cooked, then soaked, fed to sheep
together with chestnut flour*
Eaten by cattle as fodder*
See Verbena ofcinalis

2
1

436

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

Table 1 (Continued )
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen

Dialect names

Vicia faba L.

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Traditional uses

N. inf.

Seeds

Chewed beans were placed on the skin


for an entire night (for thorns under the
skin)
See Verbena ofcinalis

To bring thorns to the


surface

Thyroid problems

Intestinal worms

To remove thorns of
Prunus spinosa

To ease pain from insect stings


Nosebleeds
Infections in hens

Flour
Liliaceae
Allium sativum L.

Aglio

Bulb

Fiore/aglio
delle serpi
Aglio
delle
serpi

Entire plant

A necklace of cloves was worn, or garlic was eaten


Applied warm in the evening with a
bandage, sometimes with the bile of
a male pig. In the morning, the thorn
would have come out*
The cut and crushed bulb is applied
locally*
The cut bulb
Split onion, sometimes with Fraxinus
ornus bark or Artemisia absinthium
leaves. For infections (pip`ta),
which make the tip of the tongue dry*
Fed to pigs*

Entire Plant

Fed to pigs*

Piccasorce

Roots

Lino

Malva

Bulb (one clove or struscio)

Allium cepa L.

Cipolla

Bulb
Bulb
Bulb

Leopoldia comosa (L.)


Parl. [A48]
Muscari atlanticum
Boiss. et Reuter
[A47]
Ruscus aculeatus L.
Linaceae
Linum usitatissimum L.
Malvaceae
Malva sylvestris L.
[A24]

1
1

Occasionally used as
fodder
Occasionally used as
fodder

A decoction to be drunk in the morning on an empty stomach

Kidney/urinary complaints

Seeds

Decoction or the warm seeds wrapped


in a handkerchief

Sore throat

Aerial part

Cooked in a little water, eaten with


olive oil and a little lemon. Mallow
water was to be drunk on an empty
stomach in the morning
Decoction in oil (or with soapy water)
for enemas (also in veterinary use)
Decoction with a pinch of salt
A mush of mallow cooked in milk or
warm ashes was applied to the cheek
or, better still, directly into aching
teeth
Washes (boiled in water or milk)*

Persistent constipation

Laxative

Refreshing
Dental abscesses and
swollen gums

1
22

Inflammations of the
mouth and teeth
Diarrhoea in calves

4
1

Aerial part
Aerial part
Aerial part

Aerial part
Aerial part

Decoction with wheat bran given to


cows with young to improve the milk

Moraceae
Ficus carica L. [A5]

Fico

Latex or milk

Rubbed onto warts for a few mornings


to make them disappear

Warts

Oleaceae
Fraxinus ornus L.

Ornello

Rind

Intestinal complaints
in poultry

12

Palma

Oil

This was macerated in water, which


turned a bluish green, and given to
hens to drink in cases of intestinal
complaints, darkening of the comb
and general debility
Rubbed onto the chest (high temperature) and ears, for rashes of the legs,
mixed with water to produce a kind of
cream
A red-hot coal-shovel or tongs was immersed in the oil to prepare olio ferrato with fried oil. This was applied
to swollen ears with cotton wool and
kept in place with a woolen scarf
Variant with chamomile added and a
poultice of warm oil placed on the ear

High temperature,
ear-ache, rashes of
the legs

Mumps, sore throat,


earache and sprains

Mumps

Olea europaea L. [A27]

Oil (warm)

Oil

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

437

Table 1 (Continued )
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen

Dialect names

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Traditional uses

N. inf.

Oil (fried)

A few drops in the ear

Leaves

A glass drunk early morning on an


empty stomach of the decoction made
from three cloves (strusci) of garlic
and seven olive leaves. Alternatively, a
decocotion of merely the leaves (its
very bitter, but does you good)
The sediment (morca) was placed
together with pork fat or sulphur on
wounds (sheep and cows) (veterinary
use)*
A drop on the skin (veterinary use)*

Persistant earache
from mumps or
infection
High blood pressure
(as a diuretic), kidney
and liver stones

Fly repellent

For removing ticks

The latex is rubbed onto warts in


the evenings. One informant recalls
a dozen warts disappearing after this
treatment
Decoction (1520 min); one glass to
be drunk in the morning for 78 days.
Remembered as providing relief (an
old wives remedy)*
Especially for ducks and geese, sometimes hens and rabbits*
Infusion

Warts

Inflammation of the
liver

Fodder

Sedative

Oil sediment

Oil
Papaveraceae
Chelidonium majus L.
[A15]

Celidonia

Root

Leaves

Papaver
[A14]

rhoeas

L.

Papavero

Aerial part
Petals

Plantaginaceae
Plantago lanceolata L.
[A33], Plantago major L. [A34]
Polygonaceae
Rumex crispus L. [A8]

Recchie
di
lepre, centonervi

Leaves

Rubbed onto the skin they stop the


pain immediately*

Bee and hornet stings

R`umice

Aerial part

Crushed between two stones and applied with a sponge (also cooked under
embers, wrapped in aluminium foil)

For infected wounds


and pimples

Ciclamino

Tuber (potato)

Pigs are extremely fond of them*

Fodder for
ranging pigs

Tuber

See Rubus ulmifolius (ointment)*

Anti-inflammatory

Vit`abbia,
vitabbio,
vitabbie

Stem without outer bark

To cure spina ventosa

Favaione

Tubers

A cure was obtained within 15 days of


applying the stem. It is recalled that a
patient threw away his crutches and
walked. Spina ventosa is a swelling
of the foot, probably caused by decalcification of the bone, which makes
it too painful to put ones foot on the
ground*
The small tubers are browned in oil
and then applied locally*

To cure
rhoids

Melo

Sliced fruit with the skin

Coughs and colds

Pyrus communis L.

Pero

Galls

Haemostatic

Prunus domestica L.

Susino

Fruit
Fruit

Coughs
Laxative

1
5

Rubus ulmifolius Schott


[A18]

R`ogo, sp`ne

Leaves

An apple was cooked to a pulp and a


few spoonfuls of honey added, or the
fruit was cooked in wine with cinnamon and other spices
Liquid from the galls was smeared on
the skin*
Boiled with honey
Dried in the oven, cooked and eaten or
a decoction to be drunk
Placed with the upper side in contact with the skin (to avoid them from
sticking)

Haemostat for cuts

Primulaceae
Cyclamen hederifolium
Aiton; Cyclamen
repandum Sibth. et
Sm.
Ranunculaceae
Clematis vitalba L.
[A12]

Ranunculus caria L.
[A13]
Rosaceae
Malus domestica
Borkh.

free-

haemor-

438

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

Table 1 (Continued )
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen

Dialect names

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Traditional uses

N. inf.

Sprouts

A cream was prepared using 7 walnut kernels, 7 leaves of Verbena ofcinalis, 7 cyclamen tubers, 7 bramble
buds, the green bark of Sambucus nigra and enough oil to fry all the ingredients. Beeswax was then added, the
mixture stirred rapidly and left to cool,
the entire operation being repeated 7
times and then washed 7 times until a
cream was produced*
Gathered in early morning, left under
the bright sun for a month (sometimes
on the roof) to produce a kind of oil
which was kept in a glass jar to be used
when needed
As above
A healing jam is made by putting
the brambles into an earthenware pot,
cooking and stirring them for 3 h. The
jam is then weighed and an equal
weight of sugar added. It used to be
kept (like quince jam) in corn leaves
wrapped in oiled paper*
Placed on thorns trapped under the
skin for an entire night*

All kinds of inflammation


(including
pimples)

Cuts

Tender tips

Tender tips
Fruit

Leaves

Bruises
Coughs
throats

and

sore

1
3

To remove thorns

Rubiaceae
Coffea arabica L.

Caff`e

Seeds

A few coffee beans were effective in


combatting the effects of an unidentified skin disease which caused stings
to develop under the wings of poultry*

Veterinary use

Rutaceae
Citrus limon (L.) Burm.

Limone

Juice
Rind

Sore throat
Stomach ache

2
1

Ruta

A few small leaves

Gargle with water and lemon*


Infusion with bay leaves (see Laurus
nobilis)*
Used very sparely in salad or chewed
in small quantities with sugar and
honey

Intestinal worms

Lievito

Raising agent for bread

Applied to aching teeth with a handkerchief, amalgamated with a few


drops of vinegar

Toothache

Salicaceae
Salix alba L. [Al]

Vinco

Branches

Tied to sheeps mouths swollen as a


result of eating fresh alfalfa, to be
chewed.

Tympanitis

Solanaceae
Solanum tuberosum L.

Patata

Tuber (sliced)
Tuber(sliced)
Tuber(sliced)

External use (on eyes, and insect bites)


Applied with dressing
Wrapped around the neck with a cloth
for an entire night*
Applied directly to the tooth
Applied to the skin

Anti-inflammatory
On scalds
Sore throat

2
7
1

Toothache
Bruises

1
1

Infusion (syrup), once very common,


more rarely fumigation
Decoction for compresses

Coughs, colds and


high temperature
Eye inflammations

Used as a bandage (e.g., for cuts from


scythes), the inner side being applied
to the wound
Decoction (they contain a kind of
oil)
Liquid from the galls smeared on the
skin*

Emergency haemostat

Haemostat for cuts

Rheumatic pains

Ruta graveolens
[A21]

L.

Saccharomicetaceae
Saccharomices cerevisiae Rees

Tuber(sliced)
Skin of the tuber
Tiliaceae
Tilia americana
[A23]

L.

Tiglio

Flowers
Flowers

Ulmaceae
Ulmus minor
[A4]

Miller

Olmo; pallucche (the green


galls)

Layer below bark

Galls
Galls

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

439

Table 1 (Continued )
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen
Umbelliferae
Daucus carota L. sensu
stricto subsp. carota

Foeniculum vulgare
Miller subsp.
piperitum (Ucria)
Cutinho [A26]
Petroselinum crispum
(Miller) A.W.Hill

Pimpinella anisum L.

Urticaceae
Parietaria diffusa
Merth et Koch in
Rohling [A7]

Dialect names

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Traditional uses

N. inf.

Roots

Decoction applied externally*

Haemorrhoids

Carota

Root

For
croakly
grough voice

Finocchiella

Root
Leaves

Chopped into pieces, boiled for


15 min to produce a juice. This is macerated and mixed with two glasses
of warm water then drunk. A variant
foresees, five carrots with honey to be
drunk throughout the day*
Grated carrot applied with gauze*
Decoction with a little honey

Scalds
Swollen stomach

1
l

Pers`emolo

Chopped leaves

External use

Insect bites

Chopped leaves

With the addition of a drop of vinegar, the mixture is applied with a bandage and the pain disappears after a
few hours
Decoction with a little fruit, a pinch of
chamomile and, if desired, three white
rose petals dropped into water which
has just come off the boil, honey*

Pimples and whitlows

Digestive

Bruises and falls

Colitis

Intestinal pains

After a fright
Inflamed bladder
Colitis
Fodder

1
1
1
2

Food for turkeys

15

Aerial part
Aerial part

Cataplasm made by crushing the plant


between two stones (also applied with
flour and vinegar)
A mixture of erba croce (Verbena ofcinalis), pellitory, canapaccio (plant not identified), beaten egg
white, powdered barley and Vicia faba
(favetta) was applied to the stomach
with a piece of cloth for three days,
then suspended for three days
Spread on the painful area, after being
cook in a frying pan
Decoction (to be drunk)*
Decoction or maceration
Decoction or maceration
Fed to hens to increase egg-laying (see
Stellaria media)*
With cornflour, boiled nettles and a
decoction of the latter, ntrisa was
made, rich fodder for turkeys (bille,
billi) including young birds (sometimes adding a few coffee beans)
Given raw, sometimes with bran
A decoction given as drink to pigs*

Fodder for pigs


Healthy drinks

4
2

Aerial part

Plasters*

For haemostatic and


cicatrizing purposes

Aerial part

Plasters, sometimes with petrol

Aerial part

Chopped together with Thymus longicaulis subsp. longicaulis and Parietaria diffusa. Then added to bean
flour and beaten egg white and applied
with a cloth to the neck for 45 h or,
preferably, overnight. Use for 3 days,
suspend for three days, repeat cycle
three times*

Rheumatic pains in
knees and elbows
For thyroid problems

Anice

Fruit

Panat`ara,
napat`ara

Aerial part

Aerial part

Aerial part
Aerial part
Aerial part
Aerial part
Aerial part
Urtica dioica L. [A6]

Verbenaceae
Verbena ofcinalis L.
[A28]

Ortica

Erba
croce
(more
widespread
name);
erba
dei tagli

Aerial part

or

440

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

Table 1 (Continued )
Family, scientific name,
voucher specimen

Dialect names

Parts of plant used

Method of employment

Aerial part

See Rubus fruticosus

Traditional uses

N. inf.
1

Violaceae
Viola sp.

Viola selvatica

Flowering aerial part

Decoction (see Sambucus nigra)

Throat
tions

inflamma-

Vitaceae
Vitis vinifera L. [A22]

Vite

Wine

Until the 1950s, children were bathed


in the wine (sometimes with aromatic
herbs, see Cupressus sempervirens)*
Used on the temples with a damp piece
of hemp*
Cooked (vin brul`e) with honey, cinnamon and cloves
With bran (for bathing children)*
They were eaten raw

To strengthen children

High temperature

Colds

Inflammations
Thirst-quenching

2
1

Vinegar
Wine
Wine
Sprouts

N. inf.: number of informants; * : uses described only for Acquapendente and not for the neighbouring areas of Central Italy.

5 are known as antiparasitics and 5 for other uses. Also


11 plants were signaled, related to beliefs and ritual prescriptions, often mixed with therapeutical uses. The most
frequently cited plants in human medicine (>5 informants
per use) are: Ulmus minor, Rubus ulmifolius (haemostatic),
Verbena ofcinalis (haemostatic and cicatrizing, rheumatic
pains), Tilia americana (coughs), Malva sylvestris, Salvia
verbenaca (abscesses, pimples, wounds with pus), Olea europaea (sprains), Solanum tuberosum (burns), Sambucus nigra (eye inflammations), Cynodon dactylon (renal diseases,
stomach and intestine diseases). The most frequently cited
plants in veterinary medicine (>9 informants per use) are:
Cytisus scoparius (tympanitis) and Fraxinus ornus (poultry
diseases). From Table 1 emerge the more frequent use of
plant species for lung diseases (21 species; 45 citations in total), skin diseases (16 species; 56 citations) and as vulnerary
(13 plants; 53 citations). Less frequently, instead, we have
plant species used in cases of toothache (7 species; 35 citations), intestinal pains (7 plants; 11 citations), insect bites (6
species; 9 citations), haematomaincluding contusions(6
species; 12 citations), rheumatic pains (6 species; 7 citations), diuresisincluded renal complaints(5 species; 32
citations). In veterinary therapy come out the more frequent
use of plant species for digestion (5 species; 31 citations in
total), as galactagogues (3 species; 5 citations) and as vulneraries (3 plants; 5 citations).

4. Discussion
4.1. Uses in human medicine
Among the new or rare uses we cite that of Calamintha
nepeta for insect bites (anti-inflammatory essential oil)
(Lentini and Raimondo, 1990) and that of Cichorium intybus
(sesquiterpene lactones) as diuretic agent for hypertension
(Bellomaria, 1982; Bellomaria and Della Mora, 1985; Guarrera, 1994).). Also rare is the use of Petroselinum crispum to
cure pimples as a resolvent agent.

We noted the curious use of water collected in the hollow of Dipsacus fullonum leaves and applied externally in
case of freckles, only cited by Catanzaro, 1970 (Atzei et al.,
1994 refer an analogous use for Dipsacus ferox).
Among the uses still practised we cite e.g. those of Ranunculus caria for haemorroids (analgesic and haemostatic
agent)(Guarrera, 1994) and of Sambucus nigra marrow and
Viola sp. leaves (emollient agents) in case of sore throat. This
last use is thought to be extremely very efficacious. The green
part under the pith of elder is employed in other prescriptions in the district of Viterbo (Amici, 1992). In the typical prescriptions of the area and the surroundings we signal
the frequent use of some pulses (Vicia faba, Phaseolus vulgaris), sometimes including their flour, egg white, Parietaria
diffusa and Verbena ofcinalis (resolvent agents) for therapeutical purposes (thyroid disturbances, colitis). Frequently
cited in folk local medicine are Salvia verbenaca and Verbena
ofcinalis. The first was considered a remedy for pimples,
abscesses and infected wounds (antiseptic and haemostat essential oil). Amici (1991; 1992) reports the same or similar vernacular name for Ajuga reptans and writes that the
plant was used for the same ailments but also to make thorns
emerge from under the skin and to cure burns. Verbena ofcinalis (verbenalin, verbenin, essential oil, tannins, mucilages,
bitter compound) is a plant used in folk medicine above all in
Central Europe and in North-Central Italy. In the study area
the plant is employed in poultices as an haemostatic and to
make wounds heal. In the neighbouring areas (Amici, 1992;
Ferri, 1961) the plant was always used externally (hepatic
diseases, inflammations; bruises in animals, etc.). The use of
Saccharomices cerevisiae for dental abscesses is recalled by
Mambrini and Vicarelli (1983) and Scarino (2003).
4.2. Magic-religious uses
In the area of our study it was common, on the eve of St.
John the Baptist (24 June), to prepare a perfumed water with
the aerial parts of Balsamita major and of Santolina etrusca
(canfora), aromatic leaves and other sweet-smelling flow-

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

441

ers. In the morning of the feast one washed ones face with
the perfumed water obtained by maceration. A few still today
is prepared this water, which smoothes and perfumes the skin
(see Amici, 1992 for Santolina etrusca). Many medicinal
uses with clearly defined ritual origins and background were
recorded in the area of the research, which is one of the
richest in Central Italy from this perspective. In the case of
pimples and all other kinds of inflammation an ointment was
prepared with seven ingredients, including Rubus ulmifolius
and herbs to which magic properties were attributed, such as
Juglans regia, Verbena ofcinalis (erba croce), considered
magical in Middle-Ages, possibly due to the fact that the
branches of the stem forming a right-angle, similar to a cross,
and Sambucus nigra (Guarrera, 1994; Tammaro, 1984). The
ingredients were fried lightly in olive oil, adding virgin beewax, stirred briskly and then cooled, the whole process being
repeated seven times, after which it was washed seven
times until a cream was obtained. Some prescriptions, in addition to repeating actions seven times, were characterized by
the number 3. Several herbs, amongst which we find Thymus
longicaulis subsp. longicaulis and Verbena ofcinalis, were
applied for three consecutive evenings, the process interrupted for 3 days, and the entire cycle of treatment repeated
for three times. Also in the use of H. helix for obstructions in
the liver, the ritual number three is found repeated numerous
times. In the decoction of Sambucus nigra pith to cure sore
throats, care is taken to add ingredients in odd numbers, e.g.
57 or 9 leaves of wild violets. Salvia verbenaca, one of
the more well-known plants for external use, appeared with
the name of erba del malocchio in a prescription against
the evil eye. It was highly regarded as a herb with magical
properties. The leaves are similar to those of Verbena
ofcinalis, and perhaps Salvia verbenaca was used as a
substitute for this latter in the Middle Ages.

subsp. longicaulis). The leaves (juglone, essential oil, ellagic


and gallic acids, flavonoids) protected cheeses from dust and
also, presumably, kept parasites at bay. This use is still today
current in the pecorino cheese of Pienza (Siena district)(see
also Guarrera, 1990). Mambrini and Vicarelli (1983) report
that the treatment prevented pecorino type cheeses from
being affected by minuscule ticks (Tyrophagus casei), which
bury into the rind, sometimes making quite deep holes (for
the antiparasitic use of Juglans regia, see Guarrera (1999).
Santolina etrusca. An interesting endemic species found in
gravel beds of rivers, arid and clayey hills, present exclusively
in an area lying between Northern Latium, Tuscany and Umbria (Scoppola, 2000). The use of the flavouring aerial part
placed in wardrobes and cupboards to ward off parasites is
not cited in the pharmacobotanical literature. Boni and Patri
(1976) name this antiparasitic use for Santolina chamaecyparissus, the species nearest to Santolina etrusca. Mambrini
and Vicarelli (1983) name canfora Artemisia abrotanum,
while probably canfora is Santolina etrusca. The authors
report that until a few years ago, the plant was put alone or
together with Tanacetum parthenium in large wooden cases
where linen was stored, and that it kept away fleas and other
parasites when placed in dog and cat litters. The chemical
composition and properties of Santolina etrusca merit further
study.
Olea europaea. The use of olive oil sediment as a repellent with which cheeses were smeared is also described by
Guarrera (1994) and by Mambrini and Vicarelli (1983).
Euphorbia lathyrism. The use of the plant for removing
moles from kitchen gardens is sporadic. De Bellis (1988),
with regard to this use, emphasizes that its roots have repellent
properties (see also Pignatti, 1982; Guarrera, 1999).

4.3. Other remedies not involving the use of plants

In an age in which synthetic foods often replace natural


fodders or birdseeds with sometimes less than happy results in
terms of the flavour and the quality of the meat from cattle, it
is worth remembering some foods of plant origin traditionally
given to domestic animals.
Lupinus albus. Cooked seeds were fed to newly-born
lambs, making them grow more quickly. This use is not cited
in the general pharmacobotanical texts consulted or in Italian
ethnobotanical studies. Considerations regarding the nutritive
value of Lupinus albus seeds for feeding various domestic animals are reported by Al-Kaisey and Wilkie (1992), Robinson
and McNiven (1993), Roth-Maier and Kirchgessner (1995),
Gdala et al. (1996).
Convolvulus arvensis and Calystegia sepium are the typical fodder for rabbits, stimulating their appetites (Tammaro, 1984). The latter species is known as fodder promoting greater and healthier growth in rabbits (Lentini et al.,
1988).
Urtica dioica is an highly nutritious food in the feeding of
poultry being rich in aminoacids, proteins, mineral salts and
vitamins (Guarrera, 1994). The ntrisa, a mash for young

As an alternative to the latex of Ficus carica the slime of


a large snail was put on a wart, with marked effect. A snails
shell cooked on embers was suitable for curing burns, as was
also melted snow (belief), and the mixture of a spoonful of
beeswax, an egg yolk, and a level spoonful honey. To remove thorns, some pig gallbladder was dried under the fire
and spread on the skin. Egg white with tow was applied to
sprains. Warm cinders were placed with a cloth on the throat
to cure soreness, while the insects named cantarelli (Lytta
vesicatoria) were applied by old people to the skin to cure
pleurisy. Incretate (applications of clay and vinegar to the
feet) were used to cure the swollen feet of cows. These remedies were reported by a maximum of three informants per
use.
4.4. Antiparasitic uses
Juglans regia. Until the 1960s to 1970s cheeses were
wrapped in Juglans regia leaves (see Thymus longicaulis

4.5. Animal feed

442

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

turkeys was made in the studied area with Zea mays flour,
boiled nettle and the cooking water of the latter. An analogous use (nettle and bran) is also reported by Mambrini
and Vicarelli (1983). The authors note that the species was
effective against illness in young turkeys presenting diarrhoea. Nardelli (1987) and Chimenti Signorini et al. (1983)
report that nettles, when given to poultry, cause an increase
in growth. Catanzaro (1970), Tammaro (1984), Lentini et al.
(1988), Bruni et al. (1997), confirm this thesis (or report that
the ingestion of this plant increases also the output of eggs).
Other plants are administered in the studied area to increase
egg-laying: Eruca sativa (this, moreover, makes eggs yellower; a property also attributed to the grains of Zea mays)
and particularly Stellaria media.
Stellaria media. According to the informants the aerial
part, administered to chickens, together with P. diffusa and
Parietaria ofcinalis, increases the output of eggs (as reported also by Bellomaria, 1982). In the nearby area of Mt.
Amiata (Mambrini and Vicarelli, 1983) the plant is named
occhio di gallina (eye of hen), according to the authors a
clear reference to the greed with which these birds eat this
plant (see also De Feo et al., 1992; Guarrera, 1994; Mearelli
and Tardelli, 1995). The young buds are also used in human
nourishment (Corsi et al., 1980; Guarrera, 1994; Mearelli
and Tardelli, 1995). Stellaria media contains a remarkable
amount of alkaline salts, tannins, gums, one glycosidic saponine (Schauenberg and Paris, 1977; Gastaldo, 1987), fatty
acids of the 3 and 6 series (Guil et al., 1997), antioxidant
flavonoids (Budzianowski et al., 1991) and carotenoids (Guil
et al., 1996).
4.6. Veterinary medicine
Cytisus scoparius. The branches were bound to the mouths
of sheep that had swollen after the animals ate fresh Medicago
sativa; they were chewed and also ingested. The bitter taste
of Cytisus scoparius (spartein) was thought to be very efficacious. Moreover, by chewing, air was eliminated because the
branches forced the sheep to keep their mouths open. Within
two hours these animals deflated. The use is described also
by Mambrini and Vicarelli (1983).
Salix alba. In the past the branches were bound to the
sheeps mouths that had swollen after eating an excessive
amount of fresh Medicago sativa in the spring-time. The
branches (salicin) were chewed as above as a cure for tympanitis, in neighbouring areas (Viegi et al., 2003).

Fraxinus ornus. The bark (secoiridoids, coumarins) was


macerated in water that was given to chickens to drink for
intestinal disturbances, diseases accompanied by darkening
of the crest and weakness (Guarrera, 1999 and references
therein; Uncini Manganelli and Tomei, 1995).
4.7. Other uses
Thymus longicaulis subsp. longicaulis. The herb in bloom
was put in rennet (caglio: the stomach of the lamb) and
added to sheeps milk, with several buds and flowers. The
cheese was then greased with olive oil and cinders rubbed
in to preserve and harden it. It was then wrapped in dried
Juglans regia leaves so as to acquire a particular flavour.
The elderly say that it was like eating a slice of parmesan
cheese, or even better. Mambrini and Vicarelli (1983) wrote
about Thymus serpyllum sensu lato that sheep eat it gladly,
giving the milk a particular aroma. Scarino (2003) reports
that rennet was produced at home by drying some milk in
the stomachs of slaughtered lambs; the dried stomachs were
then finely minced with addition of aromatic herbs and salt.
De Bellis (1988) writes that the dried flowers of Thymus serpyllum, presura (curdle: preso) were powdered, greased
with olive oil and kept in terracotta containers together with
an odd number of large broad bean that was marked by uttering ritual words. The plant was then put in milk, curdling
after 2 h. According Nardelli (1987) the herb can be added to
the curdle, or even be used to substitute it (Guarrera, 1981).
Cynara cardunculus subsp. cardunculus (the very thorny
wild artichoke) is also cited in the area as an effective cheeserennet for its active compound, cynarin (see also De Bellis,
1988).
4.8. Afnities between the ethnobotanical traditions of
Acquapendente and those of the adjacent areas
Table 2 shows the similarity in the folk uses between Acquapendente (this text: 193 total uses) and neighbouring areas
of central Italy. We can notice a greater affinity (32.l%) with
the Viterbo district; a certain degree of similarity nevertheless also exists with neighbouring localities of other regions.
In particular we may observe a close affinity with Umbria,
the data for which refers to both Terni and the more distant
Perugia district (19.7%), linked to Acquapendente also by
an earlier political-administrative regime, but also for areas
belonging to different regions, like the Grosseto district (Mt.

Table 2
Similarity in the folk uses between Acquapendente (193 total uses) and neighbouring areas of Central Italy
Geographical area

References

Viterbo district (Latium)


Umbria (Terni and Perugia districts)
Siena district (Tuscany)
Grosseto district (Tuscany)

Amici (1992), Guarrera (1994)


Leporatti et al. (1985), Nardelli (1987)
Ferri (1961, 1977) De Bellis (1988)
Mambrini and Vicarelli (1983), Chiavoni and Raffo (1995), Mearelli and Tardelli (1995),

62
38
34
38

131
155
159
155

32.l
19.7
17.6
19.7

a: number of elements in common between the two areas; b: number of elements present in Acquapendente and absent from the second area; %: percentage of
folk uses in common between Acquapendente and neighbouring areas of central Italy.

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

Amiata and Maremma: 19.7%) and in slightly lesser measure for the nearer Siena district (Mt. Amiata, Val dOrcia;
17.6%). These data firmly insert Acquapendente into the cultural context of the Viterbo district, but open to the influences
of neighbouring areas, given its characteristic role of town
and border territory.

5. Conclusions
The research has enabled us to document the folk culture
of the area and to witness, still today, a certain wealth of
ethnobotanical information, especially that obtained by interviewing the elderly. In fact among the 64 plant species
recorded in the territory for usages in human medicine, 30
(therefore about 1/2) are still used today, even though we
have noted a far more limited use for plants employed in
many prescriptions.
The relative isolation of the territory has permitted traditions to be relatively well preserved, which elsewhere have
been lost. This aspect is probably also related to the areas
proximity to Tuscany, one of the more conservative of the
Italian regions, as documented by extensive data reported in
many ethnobotanical studies. Moreover, the presence in this
area of medicinal uses connected with ritual prescriptions
testifies the good preservation of ancient traditions in this
area. Comparison with Mattioli (1585), a doctor from nearby
Siena, who formulated a synthesis of the knowledge of ancient medicine, and of the medicine of the Middle Ages and
Renaissance, but who also reports news on local medicine,
highlighted certain confirmations of folk uses: Ulmus minor
bark as a haemostatic; Rubus fruticosus leaves or maceration
of the tops in sunlight as cicatrizing agents; Malva sylvestris
on abscesses and burns; Papaver rhoeas petals (infusion) as
a sedative; cooked plums for tussis.
Many practices described are also indicative of a past agricultural economy still now important for the area (to be shown
now to advantage in its typical products and in some local prescriptions that merit being proposed anew) and of a form of
breeding that should receive new encouragement, on the basis of the traditions of animal feeding and in harmony with
the surrounding environment.

Acknowledgements
We are grateful to all the informants and particularly to
Gianfranco Gelsomini, for having accompanied us in several interviews and putting in touch with many informants.
Thanks also to Angelo Merante for the graphic support. Particular thanks to the Museo del Fiore in Acquapendente, for
promoting the present research and to the Latium Region
(Assessorato Cultura), the Province of Viterbo (Assessorato
Cultura) and to the Council of Acquapendente for financing
the study (L.R. 42/97Piano Musei 2001 and 2002).

443

References
Al-Kaisey, M.T., Wilkie, K.C.B., 1992. The polysaccharides of
agricultural lupine seeds. Carbohydrate Research 227, 147
161.
Amici, L., Bardelli, A., Crisanti, S., DOrazio, M., Guglielmi, A., La
Masa, B., Obliteschi, A., Paganucci, B., Pieri, N., Sugaroni, L. (collaborators), 1991. I Semplici. Rimedi popolari aquesiani. Published
by Municipality of Acquapendente.
Amici, L., 1992. Medicina popolare della Teverina. Published by Regione
Lazio, Assessorato alla Cultura and Associazione intercomunale della
Teverina per la cultura. Viterbo.
Atzei, A.D., Orr`u, L., Putzolu, F., Rozzo, G., Usala, T., 1994. Le piante
nelle terapie tradizionali. Sardegna Sud-occidentale. Stef, Cagliari.
Ballero, M., Poli, F., Sacchetti, G., Loi, M.C., 2001. Ethnobotanical research in the territory of Fluminimaggiore (south-western Sardinia).
Fitoterapia 72, 788800.
Bellomaria, B., 1982. Le piante di uso popolare nel territorio di Camerino
(Marche). Archivio Botanico e Biogeografico Italiano 58, 1
27.
Bellomaria, B., Della Mora, L., 1985. Novit`a nelluso delle piante officinali per la zona di Matelica (Macerata) anche in confronto con altre
zone delle Marche. Archivio Botanico e Biogeografico Italiano 61,
5181.
Boni, U., Patri, G., 1976. Le erbe medicinali, aromatiche, cosmetiche.
Fabbri, Milano.
Bruni, A., Ballero, M., Poli, F., 1997. Quantitative ethnopharmacological
study of the Campidano Valley and Urzulei district, Sardinia, Italy.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 57, 97124.
Budzianowski, J., Pakulski, G., Robak, J., 1991. Studies on the antioxidative activity of some C-glycosylflavones. Polish Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacy 43, 395401.
Cappelletti, E.M., 1979. Ricerche etnofarmacobotaniche in alcune zone
dellItalia nord-orientale: specie vulnerarie. Accademia Nazionale dei
Lincei. Rendiconti della Classe di Scienze fisiche, matematiche e naturali, s. VIII, LXVI 6, 577586.
Catanzaro, F., 1970. Le piante officinali del territorio di Bivona (Ag) nella
tradizione popolare. Fitoterapia 2, 6683.
Chiavoni, M., Raffo, E.S., 1995. Ricerca etnobotanica nella provincia di
Grosseto. Istituto Tecnico Agrario Statale Leopoldo II di Lorena.
Tip. La Stampa, Grosseto.
Corsi, G., Gaspari, G., Pagni, A.M., 1980. Luso delle piante
nelleconomia domestica della Versilia collinare e montana. Atti Societ`a Toscana Scienze Naturali, Mem., s. B. 87, 309386.
De Bellis, A., 1988. Erbe di Val dOrcia. Del Grifo Editori, Montepulciano (Siena).
De Feo, V., Aquino, R., Menghini, A., Ramundo, E., Senatore, F.,
1992. Traditional phytotherapy in the Peninsula Sorrentina, Campania,
Southern Italy. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 36, 113125.
Ferri, S., 19601961. Flora medicinale del Senese. Atti Accademia Fisiocratici Siena, Sez Agraria, s. 2, 7178.
Ferri, S., 1961. Le piante della provincia di Siena attualmente usate nella
medicina popolare. Atti XXI Congresso Internazionale Scienze Farmaceutiche, Pisa 48 settembre, 485521.
Ferri, S., 1977. Piante medicinali e fitoterapia nel territorio di Cetona e
Sarteano (Siena). Webbia 31, 105113.
Gastaldo, P., 1987. Compendio della Flora Officinale Italiana. Piccin,
Padova.
Gdala, J., Jansman, A.J.M., Van Leewen, P., Huisman, J., Verstegen,
M.W.A., 1996. Lupinus (Lupinus luteus, Lupinus albus, Lupinus angustifolius) as a protein source for young pigs. Animal Feed Science
and Technology 62, 239249.
Guarrera, P.M., 1981. Ricerche etnobotaniche nelle Province di Macerata e di Ancona. Rivista Italiana EPPOS 2, 99108;(4), 220
228.
Guarrera, P.M., 1990. Usi tradizionali delle piante in alcune aree marchigiane. Informatore Botanico Italiano 22, 155167.

444

P.M. Guarrera et al. / Journal of Ethnopharmacology 96 (2005) 429444

Guarrera, P.M., 1994. Il patrimonio etnobotanico del Lazio. Regione


Lazio, Assessorato alla Cultura and Dipartimento Biologia Vegetale
Universit`a La Sapienza(Editors), Tipar, Roma.
Guarrera, P.M., 1999. Traditional antihelmintic, antiparasitic and repellent
uses of plants in Central Italy. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 68,
183192.
Guil, J.L., Torija, M.E., Gimenez, J.J., Rodriguez, I., 1996. Identification
of fatty acids in edible wild plants by gas chromatography. Journal
of Chromatography 719, 229235.
Guil, J.L., Rodriguez-Garcia, I., Torija, E., 1997. Nutritional and toxic
factors in selected wild edible plants. Plant Foods and Human Nutrition 51, 99107.
Lentini, F., Catanzaro, F., Aleo, M., 1988. Indagini etnobotaniche in Sicilia III. Luso tradizionale delle piante nel territorio di Mazara del
Vallo (Trapani). Atti della Accademia di Scienze Lettere e Arti di
Palermo, 129.
Lentini, F., Raimondo, F.M., 1990. Indagini etnobotaniche in Sicilia IV.
Luso tradizionale delle piante nel territorio di Mistretta (Messina).
Quaderni Botanica Ambientale Applicata (Palermo) 1, 103117.
Leporatti, M.L., Pavesi, A., Posocco, E., 1985. Some new therapeutic
uses of several medicinal plants in the province of Terni (Umbria,
Central Italy). Journal of Ethnopharmacology 14, 5363.
Leporatti, M.L., Corradi, L., 2001. Ethnopharmacobotanical remarks on
the Province of Chieti town (Abruzzo, Central Italy). Journal of
Ethnopharmacology 74, 1740.
Mambrini, M., Vicarelli, G.B., 1983. Piante officinali dellAmiata. Usi e
tradizioni popolari. Published by Cooperativa Agricola Forestale dei
Comuni Amiatini. CastellAzzara (Grosseto).
Mattioli, P.A., 1585. Il Dioscoride. Valgrisi, Venezia.
Mearelli, F., Tardelli, C., 1995. Maremma Mediterranea. Erboristeria Domani 7/8, 4557.
Nardelli, G.M., 1987. Cultura e tradizione. Demomedicina nellalta Umbria. Provincia di Perugia.

Pieroni, A., 2000. Medicinal plants and food medicines in the folk traditions of the upper Lucca Province, Italy. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 70, 235273.
Pignatti, S., 1982. Flora dItalia, vols. 13. Edagricole, Bologna.
Robinson, P.H., McNiven, M.A., 1993. Nutritive value of raw and roasted
sweet white lupins (Lupinus albus L.) for lactating dairy cows. Animal
Feed Science and Technology 43, 275290.
Roth-Maier, D.A., Kirchgessner, M., 1995. Nutritive value of native sweet
white lupine (Lupinus albus) seed for ruminants. Agribiological Research 48, 325329.
Scarino, M.A., 2003. Pane e companatico. La tradizione della cultura
contadina nella Tuscia. Editor Tip. Silvio Pellico, Montefiascone.
Schauenberg, P., Paris, F., 1977. Le piante medicinali. Newton Compton
ed., Roma.
Scoppola, A., 1998. La vegetazione della riserva naturale regionale Monte
Rufeno (VT). Editors Regione Lazio Assessorato U.T.V. delle risorse
ambientali, Riserva Naturale Monte Rufeno and Comune di Acquapendente.
Scoppola, A., 2000. Flora vascolare della Riserva Naturale Monte Rufeno
(Viterbo Italia centrale). Webbia 54, 207270.
Uncini Manganelli, R.E., Tomei, P.E., 1995. Indagini farmaco-botaniche
in Garfagnana (Lucca): il versante appenninico. Atti Societ`a Toscana
Scienze Naturali Me., m., s.B. 102, 318.
Uncini Manganelli, R.E., Tomei, P.E., 1999a. Documenti per la
conoscenza delle tradizioni etno-farmacobotaniche in Toscana. Ed.
Accademia Lucchese di Scienze, Lettere ed Arti, studi e testi LVIII,
S.Marco Litotipo, Lucca.
Uncini Manganelli, R.E., Tomei, P.E., 1999b. Ethnopharmacobotanical
studies of the Tuscan Archipelago. Journal of Ethnopharmacology
65, 181202.
Viegi, L., Pieroni, A., Guarrera, P.M., Vangelisti, R., 2003. A review of
plants used in folk veterinary medicine in Italy as basis for a databank.
Journal of Ethnopharmacology 89, 221244.