Chuchuhuasu (Maytenus krokovii) of Amazonia: its uses and commerce

TitleChuchuhuasu (Maytenus krokovii) of Amazonia: its uses and commerce
Publication TypeThesis
Year of PublicationSubmitted
AuthorsWheeler, Barry M.
Academic DepartmentBiology
Thesis AdvisorHalse, Dr. Richard
DegreeBachelor of Arts in International Studies in Biology
Number of Pages44
Date Published06/2005
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
KeywordsEcuador, Medicinal plants, overharvesting, traditional medicine

Medicinal plants are heavily used in Ecuador as a primary means of treatment in all social classes (Traffic, 1999, p 1). "Chuchuhuasu" (Maytenus krokovii and other Maytenus species) is a medicinal plant that grows in the Amazon and is marketed globally. If it is being over-harvested it will become scarce and less affordable for the Ecuadorian population. Interviews with experts on the plant, such as traditional healers, harvesters, and vendors, can show where future research on the relationship between the plant and the local human population should be focused in Ecuador. The results of the experiment do not reject the hypothesis that Chuchuhuasu is being over-harvested.
The results of the study show that vendors in Ecuador tend to know less about Chuchuahuasu than traditional healers and harvesters. The vendors interviewed often learned their knowledge from the traditional healers and harvesters who work directly with the plant in the wild and are concerned that the plant could be endangered. This analysis is based on 25 interviews with experts in various parts of Ecuador. Certainly, this is not an extensive set of interviews; however, combined with literature on this issue, the argument that the plant could be in danger is strengthened. Thus, my conclusion is that more research is needed on the conservation of Chuchuhuasu.