Ethnobotany of Oyster nut ( Telfairia pedata) in Northern Tanzania
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Telfairia pedata (Sims) Hook is an important native climber plant commonly grown in East Africa. It bears nuts which are eaten either raw or cooked and is consumed mostly by expectant mothers, and as cooking oil. The survey was conducted between September 2019 to February 2020 in Sambaa, Meru, and Pare communities of Lushoto, Bumbuli, Arumeru and Same Districts, Northern Tanzania to assess the ethnobotany of T. pedata from a sample of 346 respondents using semi-structured questionnaires. Results indicate that, 21% of respondents used T. pedata for cooking with other staple foods while 18% claimed that the nuts are used by pregnant and lactating mothers for medicinal and breast milk stimulation and nine (9) percent indicated that the nuts are used for cultural and ritual purposes. Despite its importance, the cultivation of T. pedata in the study area is declining and the gap why such decline is experienced needs to be answered in further studies. Secondly, respondents within the 36-50 age groups reported the greatest diversity of uses of T. pedata 51% compared with those aged below 36 years old 21% signifying that the traditional knowledge known by younger aged groups may be declining. Thus, this gap of traditional knowledge between the groups should be addressed in order to improve utilization and conservation of this seriously declining yet important nut in the study area and other places of Tanzania.