Economic Potential of Selected Native Plants from Cuanza Norte, Northern Angola

  • Christin HeinzeEmail author
  • Mateus Domingos Francisco Dundão
  • Christoph Neinhuis
  • Thea Lautenschläger


This study examines the economic potential of 12 native Angolan plant species. In October/November 2016, field trips and market analyses were conducted in the province of Cuanza Norte and Luanda. The data were supplemented with global market information obtained in 2017. We conducted interviews in 48 different locations in Cuanza Norte (105 informants), complemented by 96 merchants. The informant consensus factor was calculated for 786 use reports from Cuanza Norte, classified into five different use categories by applying a scoring system. Adapting and comparing the cultural with the economic value of each species, five plant species proved to be profitable for the province (Adansonia digitata, Aframomum melegueta, Cochlospermum angolense, Cola acuminata, Xylopia aethiopica). These species are promising for a more detailed economic and ecological analysis due to their high local importance and national and/or international demand. Additional research is needed to acquire detailed information regarding plant distribution and numbers, specific growth conditions, sustainable harvesting methods, and processing of the raw plant material.

Key Words

Cuanza Norte ethnobotany economic potential medicinal plants chain value Africa Angola 


O presente estudo analisa o potencial económico de doze plantas nativas angolanas. No período compreendido entre outubro e novembro de 2016, foram efetuadas viagens de campo e análises de mercado nas províncias do Cuanza Norte e Luanda. Os dados foram complementados com informações do mercado global (obtidas em 2017). Entrevistas foram conduzidas em 48 localidades na província do Cuanza Norte (105 informantes), complementada com 96 vendedores dos mercados informais. O “informant consensus factor” foi calculado para 786 relatórios de utilização do Cuanza Norte, classificados em cinco categorias de uso, aplicando um sistema de pontuação. Adaptando e comparando o Valor Cultural com o Valor Económico de cada espécie. Cinco espécies de plantas demostraram ser lucrativo para a província (Adansonia digitata, Aframomum melegueta, Cochlospermum angolense, Cola acuminata, Xylopia aethiopica). Essas espécies são promissoras para uma análise econômica e ecológica mais detalhada, por causa de alta importância local e/ou internacional. Uma continuação dos trabalhos é necessária para obtenção de informações detalhadas sobre á distribuição e números de plantas, condições de cultura, métodos de colheita sustentáveis e processamento da matéria prima vegetal.



The authors would like to thank all students and lecturers from the Kimpa Vita University for accompanying and translating during data collection. We express our profound gratitude to all local communities involved in this study for sharing their knowledge and experiences as well as to all informants, vendors, and companies participating in this study. A special thanks goes to the employees of Lymeherbs company and Oburoma Ventures for their contributions.

Funding Information

The field work in Angola was supported by a travel fund of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). These published results were obtained in collaboration with the Instituto Nacional da Biodiversidade e Áreas de Conservação (INBAC) of the Ministério do Ambiente da República de Angola.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

We consulted the administrative head of each municipality and community and obtained a working permit for the particular region. All participants were briefed about the intent of our project and their rights (prior informed consent). The code of ethics of the International Society of Ethnobiology was followed. Collection and export permits were obtained from the Ministry of Environment Angola and the Province Government of Cuanza Norte.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

12231_2018_9439_MOESM1_ESM.docx (73.7 mb)
ESM 1 (DOCX 75512 kb)


  1. African Development Bank. 2017. Angola - Country strategy paper 2017–2021. (6 June 2017).
  2. Agea, J. G., B. Katongole, D. Waiswa, and G. N. Nabanoga. 2008. Market survey of Mondia whytei (Mulondo) roots in Kampala city, Uganda. African Journal of Traditional, Complementary and Alternative Medicines 5(4): 399–408.Google Scholar
  3. AmbiWeb GmbH. 2015. Climate N’dalatando - Angola. (3 March 2017).
  4. ANGOP. 2015. Cuanza Norte: Incrementada produção de café no Golungo Alto.,d7c56533- 1a95-4fc8-990c-ff41dd0d09c4.html (21 June 2017).
  5. Barbosa, L. A. G. 1970. Carta fitogeográfica de Angola. Luanda, Angola: Instituto de Investigação Científica de Angola.Google Scholar
  6. Belcher, B. and K. Schreckenberg. 2007. Commercialisation of non-timber forest products: A reality check. Development Policy Review 25(3): 355–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bellú, G. L. and Liberati, P.. 2005. Inequality analysis. The Gini Index. EASYPol Module 040 (15 March 2018).
  8. Bodeker G., K. K. S. Bhat, J. Burley, and P. Vantomme. 1997. Medicinal plants for forest conservation and health care. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.Google Scholar
  9. Briggs, D. J. and P. Smithson. 1986. Fundamentals of physical geography. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield.Google Scholar
  10. Catling, P. M. and S. Porebski. 1998. Rare wild plants of potential or current economic importance in Canada - a list of priorities. Canadian Journal of Plant Science 78(4): 653–658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. CBI. 2017. Which trends offer opportunities on the European spices and herbs market? (1 November 2017).
  12. Costa, E. and M. Pedro. 2013. Plantas medicinais de Angola. Luanda, Angola: Universidade Agostinho Neto, Centro de Bôtanica.Google Scholar
  13. Cunningham, A. B. 2001. Applied ethnobotany. People, wild plant use & conservation. London: Earthscan Publications.Google Scholar
  14. Da Rocha, M. J. 2010. Desigualidades e assimetrias regionais em Angola - Os factores de competitividade terriorial. angola.pdf (6 June 2017).
  15. Fairtrade International. 2018. Benefits of Fairtrade. (15 November 2018).
  16. FairWild Foundation. 2009. FairWild - Home. (6 November 2017).
  17. Fern, K. 2018. Useful Tropical Plants Database 2014. (18 July 2018).
  18. Fernandes, J. and Z. Ntondo. 2002. Mapa Etnolinguístico de Angola. (3 March 2017).
  19. Figueiredo, E. and G. F. Smith. 2008. Plants of Angola = Plantas de Angola. Pretoria, South Africa: SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute) Publishing.Google Scholar
  20. Figueiredo, E., G. F. Smith, and J. César. 2009. The flora of Angola: First record of diversity and endemism. Taxon 58(1): 233–236.Google Scholar
  21. Göhre, A., A. B. Toto-Nienguesse, M. Futuro, C. Neinhuis, and T. Lautenschlager. 2016. Plants from disturbed savannah vegetation and their usage by Bakongo tribes in Uíge, Northern Angola. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine. 12: 42. Scholar
  22. Gruenwald, J. and M. Galizia. 2005. Market brief in the European Union for selected natural ingredients derived from native species. Adansonia digitata L. (Baobab). In: The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) BioTrade Initiative/BioTrade Facilitation Programme (BTFP) UNCTAD/DITC/TED, 1–35. Geneva: UNCTAD.Google Scholar
  23. Heinze, C., B. Ditsch, M. F. Congo, I. J. José, C. Neinhuis, and T. Lautenschläger. 2017. First ethnobotanical analysis of useful plants in Cuanza Norte, North Angola. Research and Reviews: Journal of Botanical Sciences. 6: 2. (17 June 2017).Google Scholar
  24. Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE). 2014. Resultados preliminares do censo 2014. (4 March 2017).
  25. International Trade Centre. 2017a. Medicinal and aromatic plants and extracts. (6 June 2017).
  26. ———. 2017b. Trade Map - Trade statistics for international business development. (18 October 2017).
  27. IUCN. 2017. Red List version 2017–1: Table 6b: Red List Category summary country totals (Plants). (6 September 2017).
  28. Iwu, M. 2014. Handbook of African Medicinal Plants. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.Google Scholar
  29. Jenkins, P., P. Robson, and A. Cain. 2002. Local responses to globalization and peripheralization in Luanda, Angola. Environment and Urbanization 14(1): 115–127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kier, G., J. Mutke, E. Dinerstein, T. H. Ricketts, W. Küper, H. Kreft, and W. Barthlott. 2005. Global patterns of plant diversity and floristic knowledge: Global plant diversity. Journal of Biogeography 32(7): 1107–1116.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Latham, P. and A. K. K. Mbuta. 2014. Useful plants of Bas-Congo province, Democratic Republic of Congo. London: DFID.Google Scholar
  32. Leyens, T. and W. Lobin. 2009. Manual de plantas úteis de Angola. Aachen: Bischöfliches Hilfswerk Misereor e.V.Google Scholar
  33. Lock, J. M., J. B. Hall, and D. K. Abbiw. 1977. The cultivation of melegueta pepper. Economic Botany 31(3): 321–330.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Macauhub News Agency. 2016. Angola plans to boost coffee production. (21 June 2017).
  35. McGeoch, L. 2004. Plant ecology in a human context: Mondia whytei in Kakamega Forest, Kenya. Providence, Rhode Island: Brown University, Environmental Science.Google Scholar
  36. MINUA (Ministry of Urban Affairs and Environment). 2014. 5th National report on biodiversity in Angola 2007–2012. Luanda, Angola: Ministério do Ambiente - Direcção Nacional da Biodiversidade.Google Scholar
  37. Ndangalasi, H. J., R. Bitariho, and D. B. K. Dovie. 2007. Harvesting of non-timber forest products and implications for conservation in two montane forests of East Africa. Biological Conservation 134(2): 242–250.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Neuwinger, H. D. 2000. African traditional medicine: A dictionary of plant use and applications with supplement: search system for diseases. Stuttgart, Germany: Medpharm Scientific Publishers.Google Scholar
  39. Numbeo. 2017. Cost of living comparison between Berlin, Germany and Luanda, Angola. (3 November 2017).
  40. Observatory of Economic Complexity. 2015. Angola (AGO) Exports, Imports, and Trade Partners. (6 June 2017).
  41. País O. 2017. Produção de café em queda no Cuanza Norte. (21 June 2017).
  42. Pariona, A. 2018. Largest ethnic groups in Angola. (23 August 2018).
  43. Peel, M. C., B. L. Finlayson, and T. A. McMahon. 2007. Updated world map of the Köppen-Geiger climate classification. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 11(5): 1633–1644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. PhytoTrade Africa. 2017. Our Impact. (18 October 2017).
  45. Reyes-García, V., T. Huanca, V. Vadez, W. Leonard, and D. Wilkie. 2006. Cultural, practical, and economic value of wild plants: A quantitative study in the Bolivian Amazon. Economic Botany 60(1): 62–74.Google Scholar
  46. Ruiz-Pérez, M., B. Belcher, R. Achdiawan, M. Alexiades, C. Aubertin, J. Caballero, B. Campbell, C. Clement, T. Cunningham, and A. Fantini. 2004. Markets drive the specialization strategies of forest peoples. Ecology and Society. 9: 4.
  47. Saravanaraj, M., P. Muthusamy, R. Radha, and A. J. Suresh. 2017. A pharmacognostical profile on fruits of Adansonia digitata Linn. World Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences 6(5): 1173–1187.Google Scholar
  48. Schippmann, U., D. J. Leaman, and A. B. Cunningham. 2002. Impact of cultivation and gathering of medicinal plants on biodiversity: Global Trends and Issues. Rome: Inter-Departmental Working Group on Biological Diversity for Food and Agriculture, FAO.Google Scholar
  49. Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. 2001. Sustainable management of non-timber forest resources. Montreal: Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity.Google Scholar
  50. Shackleton, C. and S. Shackleton. 2004. The importance of non-timber forest products in rural livelihood security and as safety nets: A review of evidence from South Africa. South African Journal of Science 100: 658–664.Google Scholar
  51. Shackleton, C. M., A. K. Pandey, and T. Ticktin. 2015. Ecological sustainability for non-timber forest products: Dynamics and case studies of harvesting. London: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Shanley, P., A. R. Pierce, S. A. Laird, and A. Guillen. 2002. Tapping the green market: Certification and management of non-timber forest products. London: Earthscan.Google Scholar
  53. Siscovick, M. 2017. Mercer’s 2017 cost of living ranking. (3 November 2017).
  54. Ticktin, T. 2004. The ecological implications of harvesting non-timber forest products. Journal of Applied Ecology 41(1): 11–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Trotter, R. T. and Logan M.. 1986. Informant consensus: A new approach for identifying potentially active medicinal plants. In: Plants in Indigenous Medicine and Diet. Biobehavioural Approaches, eds. N.L. Etkin, 91–112. New York: Redgrave Publishing Company.Google Scholar
  56. United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). 2014. Vulnerability Profile of Angola. (6 June 2017).
  57. United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs. 2018. Handbook on the least developed country category: inclusion, graduation and special support measures, third edition. (06 December 2018).
  58. Van Wyk, B. E. 2015. A review of commercially important African medicinal plants. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 176: 118–134.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Venter, S. M. and E. T. F. Witkowski. 2011. Baobab (Adansonia digitata L.) fruit production in communal and conservation landuse types in Southern Africa. Forest Ecology and Management 261(3): 630–639.Google Scholar
  60. World Bank. 2013. World Development Indicators 2013. (06 December 2017).
  61. World Health Organization. 2003. Traditional medicine. (6 June 2017).
  62. ———. 2016. International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems: 10th revision ICD-10. (15 July 2017).
  63. Wynberg, R. 2002. A decade of biodiversity conservation and use in South Africa: Tracking progress from the Rio Earth Summit to the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development. South African Journal of Science 98(5): 233–243.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Biology, Institute of BotanyTechnische Universität DresdenDresdenGermany
  2. 2.University of Kimpa VitaN’dalatandoAngola

Personalised recommendations