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Ethnomycological study in the Kilum-Ijim mountain forest, Northwest Region, Cameroon

Teke, N. A., Kinge, T. R., Bechem, E., Nji, T. M., Ndam, L. M., Mih, A. M.
Journal of ethnobiology and ethnomedicine 2018 v.14 no.1 pp. 25
Auricularia polytricha, Coriolus versicolor, Ganoderma applanatum, Laetiporus sulphureus, Lentinus, Polyporus, Termitomyces, Vascellum, Xylaria, common names, diet, ecosystems, elderly, focus groups, forest reserves, health services, indigenous knowledge, internal transcribed spacers, meat, medicinal fungi, medicine, men, mushrooms, questionnaires, rural areas, surveys, villages, women, Cameroon
BACKGROUND: Majority of the people in rural areas depend on traditional fungi-based medicines to combat different illnesses. This ethnomycological survey was undertaken to document the traditional knowledge of mushrooms among the communities in the Kilum-Ijim mountain forest reserve. Although macrofungi are exploited for food and medicine, their ethnomycological knowledge has not been documented in this ecosystem. METHODS: A field study was carried out between 2014 and 2015; 14 mushrooms used by the local communities were collected and identified using the polymorphism of the ribosomal ITS1, 5.8S, and ITS2 regions. Semi-structured questionnaires, focus group discussions, and pictorial method were used to collect information on edibility, local names, indigenous knowledge, and the role of macrofungi in ten communities. RESULTS: Ethnomycological findings revealed that mushrooms were used as food and medicine, while the non-edible species were regarded as food from Satan. Eight species, Polyporus tenuiculus, Termitomyces striatus, Termitomyces microcarpus Auricularia polytricha, Laetiporus sulphureus, Termitomyces sp.1, Termitomyces sp.2, and Polyporus dictyopus, were reported as edible and Auricularia polytricha, Daldinia concentrica, Ganoderma applanatum, Lentinus squarrosulus, Polyporus dictyopus, Termitomyces microcarpus, Trametes versicolor, Vascellum pretense and Xylaria sp., were used as medicine in traditional health care. Local names were found to be a very important factor in distinguishing between edible, medicinal, and poisonous mushrooms. Edible mushrooms are called “awo’oh” in Belo and “Kiwoh” in Oku. Poisonous mushrooms were commonly referred to as “awo’oh Satan” in Belo and “Kiwohfiyini” in Oku. Mushrooms were highly valued as a source of protein and as a substitute for meat in their diets. It is worth noting that Polyporus dictyopus was reported here for the first time in literature as an edible mushroom species. CONCLUSION: Local knowledge of medicinal mushrooms in the treatment of different illness still exists in all ten villages surveyed. Elderly men and women appear to play an important role in primary health care services in these communities. This survey underscores the need to preserve and document traditional knowledge of the different medicinal mushrooms used in treating different illnesses and for more future scientific research on the mushrooms to determine their efficacy and their safety.