Melzian's Bini Dictionary: Ethnobotanical review using PROTA Criteria

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Overview of the ethnobotany of Benin Kingdom based on annotations and narratives in Melzian's Bini Dictionary

The forests of Benin kingdom, southern Nigeria are rich in biodiversity and the natives, referred to as the Binis (or Edos) are renowned for their vast and intimate folk knowledge of plants.

This study on Bini ethnobotany is the second series of extracts from Hans Melzian‟s 1937 book “A Concise Dictionary of the Bini Language of Southern Nigeria”; following the first compilation of Edo Plant names checklist.

Narratives and annotations on Bini ethnobotany in the dictionary were selected and organized according to their placements among 16 primary plant use categories on the template developed by Plant Resources of Tropical Africa (PROTA).

For each plant entry, the most customary usage by the Binis was obtained from commentaries in the dictionary with additional inputs from literature and oral interviews of selected individuals knowledgeable in Bini language, culture and traditions including herbalist.

The more prevalence status attributed to the timbers class debunks historical accounts which depicted timber usage in Benin Kingdom as peripheral, thus suggesting a marked disparity between PROTA criteria and Bini ethnobotany.

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