Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 293–306 | Cite as

Collection and ethnobotanical investigation of Corchorus species in Ethiopia: potential leafy vegetables for dry regions

  • Solomon Benor
  • Frank R. Blattner
  • Sebsebe Demissew
  • Karl Hammer
Research Article


Little information is available regarding the biodiversity and potential use of jute (Corchorus species) in Ethiopian agriculture. The present study summarizes species’ occurrence, use, geographical distribution, ecology, and ethnobotany of Corchorus species in Ethiopia. An ecogeographical study, conducted in the Amhara, Oromia and Gambella Regional States in 2005 and 2008 resulted in the collection of seven different species with more than 100 accessions. The study revealed low similarity in species composition between the Regional States, indicating that each region has its own unique set of species. Species numbers are higher in the north-eastern and south-western than the central part of the country. C. aestuans L. and C. tridens L. are restricted to humid lowlands of south-western part of Ethiopia, growing at elevations up to 490 m, whereas, C. urticifolius Wight et Arn., C. trilocularis L. and C. schimperi Cufod. were collected only in the north-eastern part of the country with elevation ranges of 1,380–2,130 m. The only species collected at a higher elevation (>2,100 m) was C. schimperi Cufod. Farmers’ perception, indigenous knowledge and folk taxonomy of jute species are better in Gambella than the other studied regions. Although several Corchorus species are reported from Ethiopia, these species are neither cultivated nor popularly used as leafy vegetables. This is mainly due to lack of awareness or knowledge about the species use, and abundant distribution of the species that allows gathering of edible leaves with little expenditure of time, labour and other resources. Our results revealed that some species are threatened, which necessitates highest priority for jute germplasm conservation in the country. In addition, creating public awareness about the use of jute species as a cheap source of leafy vegetable will play an important role to diversify food sources, reduce malnutrition, and contribute to household income generation of the farming community.


Corchorus species Ethiopia Ethnobotany Jute 



The authors are very grateful to the farmers of Ethiopia, who generously cooperated and imparted during the collection program. Special thanks to Tesfaye Awas for his invaluable discussion and contribution of C. capsularis germplasm collected in Gambella Regional State. The authors are also indebted to Abyot Gashaw and Atalay Mekonnen for assisting the first author in the 2008 field work. Staffs members of the Gambella Agricultural Research Institute and the National Herbarium, Biology Department, Addis Ababa University are acknowledged for the kind cooperation in the process of germplasm collection and voucher specimen preparation, respectively. Ecogeographical survey and germplasm collection in 2005 was supported by the research grant from Hawassa University, Ethiopia. This study was supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Solomon Benor
    • 1
  • Frank R. Blattner
    • 1
  • Sebsebe Demissew
    • 2
  • Karl Hammer
    • 3
  1. 1.Leibniz Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Research (IPK)GaterslebenGermany
  2. 2.Department of Biology, Science FacultyAddis Ababa UniversityAddis AbabaEthiopia
  3. 3.Department of Agrobiodiversity, Institute of Crop ScienceKassel UniversityKasselGermany

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