In the context of global change, understanding the knowledge and values given to plants is crucial for choosing relevant approaches towards a more sustainable future. Children are central holders of ethnobotanical knowledge, yet they are still under-considered in ethnobotany. Our study explored the medicinal knowledge of children of the Baka, forager-horticulturalists from Cameroon. We assessed the diversity of medicinal plants they know, the different ailments treated, and whether they could name complete herbal recipes. Using a mixed-methods approach, we combined ex situ interviews (freelisting and knowledge surveys) with in situ methods (walk-in-the-woods trips with voucher collection) with 106 children from 5 to 16 years old. They listed 128 local names of medicinal plants, which we linked to 126 different plant species. While the ex situ and in situ methods had some overlap in the diversity of medicinal plants reported, they also revealed substantial knowledge unique to each method. Our insights provide further evidence of children’s considerable ethnobotanical knowledge and the extent to which different field methods can retrieve such knowledge. We discuss the methodological tools to be developed with and for children to put childhood at the center stage of ethnobotanical approaches for the future.

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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Economic Botany

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Staff publications

Gallois, Sandrine, van Andel, T., Ambassa, Appolinaire, & van Bemmel, Stijn. (2023). The future is in the younger generations: Baka children in Southeast Cameroon have extensive knowledge on medicinal plants. Economic Botany, 2023. doi:10.1007/s12231-023-09589-4