Plant resources of the Tehuacán-Cuicatlán valley, Mexico
Information on richness of plant resources, and their forms of use and management in the biosphere reserve Tehuacan-Cuicatlan, Mexico is analyzed. This 10 000 km 2 region hosts nearly 2700 vascular plant species, and it is acknowledged as one of the arid areas with the highest floristic diversity in North America. The seven indigenous ethnic groups that live in this region have cultural roots that date back almost 10 000 years. Based upon ethnobotanical and floristic studies, as well as bibliographical sources, a total of 808 useful plant species were identified, most of them (90%) being native, and 44 species being endemic to the region. A total of 681 species are wild plants, 109 are weeds and ruderal plants, and 86 are domesticated crops. However, it was noted that considerable overlap exists between the species of these 3 categories. For example, while wild and ruderal plants (706 species) are foraged by both humans and domestic animals, 59 species of this group are also managed in situ. On the other hand, 168 wild, ruderal and domesticated species are cultivated. The Tehuacán-Cuicatlan Valley is one of the richest regions of Mexico in plant resources. Local knowledge on use and management of plants is a valuable source of information for designing conservation and social development strategies for the biosphere reserve.