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An ethnobotanical survey of wild edible plants of Cyprus was carried out …

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- An ethnobotanical survey of wild edible plants of Paphos and Larnaca countryside of Cyprus

Even though covering only 9251 square kilometres, Cyprus is a country diverse in geography, climate, flora and fauna and rich in history and culture. Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean with a climate of wet, changeable winter and hot dry summers, separated by short spring and autumn seasons of rapidly changing weather. The vegetation of Cyprus is formed by typical Mediterranean types: the coniferous forest, the maquis, the garigue and the batha vegetation, whilst more localized communities occur around salt marshes, sand dunes, stone walls and mountain streams [1-4].

In Cyprus, about 2000 taxa were recorded as native or naturalized. From the native taxa, 143 were recorded as endemics [5-8]. References to the Cyprus flora and in particular to plants of economic importance go back as far as Homer. Cyprus' plants are mentioned in the works of ancient authors such as Theophrast, Dioscourides and Pliny. Among Cyprus natural vegetation, a number of aromatic, medicinal and other useful plants are being exploited in their wild form [9].

The Cyprus diverse topography has permitted the survival of traditional knowledge related to vegetable resources used by locals as food. Even though, the consumption of plants gathered from the wild represented an important part of human nutrition in Cyprus, however, there are few ethnobotanical studies focused on wild edibles [10-13].

The present research was performed in the framework of the EU-funded RUBIA Ethnobotanical Project (Contract Number ICA3–2002–10023, 2003–2006). The perspectives of this research project were to record ethnobotanical knowledge related to traditional plant uses of wild and neglected cultivated plants for food, medicine, textiles, dyeing, handicrafts, and basketry, as well as to identify and evaluate the socio-economic and anthropological context in which these plants have been gathered and processed.

As a part of this broad study, wild food plants have been recorded in Cyprus and therefore the aim of this paper, is to present and analyze the wild food data gathered in the study areas of Cyprus during the years 2003–2005.

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