Selection of Plants with Medicinal Properties by Wild Chimpanzees

Dossaji SF, Wrangham RW, Rodriguez E. "Selection of Plants with Medicinal Properties by Wild Chimpanzees." Fitoterepia. 1989;60(4):378-380.


In 1983 Wrangham and Nishida described an unusual feeding behavior in wild chimpanzees (Tan
troglodytes schweinfurthii) whereby the consumption of leaves of three species of Aspilia (Asteraceae) led them to suggest that such selection of certain plant species by the chimpanzees was for therapeutic purposes. In 1985 Rodriguez et al. confirmed that Aspilia mossambicensis and A pluriseta, which are also used medicinally by man, contain a potent antibiotic, thiarubrine A This important plant-primate interaction provided a new and valuable insight on how African primates select diets containing bioactive constitutents other than for nutritional benefits. Subsequent field studies in Africa have established that wild chimpanzees are using a variety of plant species as medicinal plants. These include Lippia, Hibiscus and Rubia. The significance of plant use by chimpanzees is discussed in this communicatio

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