Original Article

Ethnobotanical Study of Medicinal Plants in Aziziye District (Erzurum, Turkey)


  • Songül KARAKAYA
  • Ahmet POLAT
  • Özkan AKSAKAL
  • Yusuf Ziya SÜMBÜLLÜ

Received Date: 14.01.2019 Accepted Date: 31.01.2019 Turk J Pharm Sci 2020;17(2):211-220


The present research was conducted to document the usage of medicinal plants, plant parts utilized, and methods of preparation by the people living in Aziziye district, situated in the western part of Erzurum.

Materials and Methods:

The medicinal plant species utilized by local public for remedial aims were collected and identified. The related knowledge about conventional herbal medicine was collected, herbarium materials were prepared, and they were deposited in the Herbarium of the Faculty of Science, Atatürk University.


A total of 77 medical plants pertaining to 30 families were defined in this research. Amongst these, 62 species grew naturally and 15 species were cultivated. The most widespread medicinal plant families were Asteraceae (14), Rosaceae (7), Lamiaceae (5), and Apiaceae (5). The most widespread preparation was decoction.


The ethnobotanical outcomes documented in this study provide practical evidence about the use of medicinal plants among the inhabitants of Aziziye District. Furthermore, the results revealed that the medicinal plants of the region are a major source of herbal drugs for primary healthcare utilized among the rural communities. This study can be utilized as baseline knowledge for further scientific research to improve new plant-based commercial drugs, and may transfer the traditional information as regards usage of medicinal herbs to new generation.

Keywords: Aziziye, ethnobotany, Erzurum, medicinal plants, Turkey


Herbs have been invariable sources of both protective and therapeutic traditional medicine preparations for people since ancient times.1 The World Health Organization forecasted that about 60% of the worlds inhabitants in developing countries trust herbs for curing a variety of illnesses, owing to the lack of modern healthcare resources.2

Turkey’s flora is very rich, comprising about 11.000 species, 33% of which are endemic and Turkish people have utilized these herbs for diversified aims. Along with its rich flora, a wide diversity of habitats also exist in Turkey.3,4 The flora of Turkey is rich owing to its different ecological zones,  geographical variations, and diversified climates. This variation in flora has contributed a rich source of medicinal herbs, which has long been utilized by Anatolian people, and therefore there has been an accumulation of valuable folk medicinal information in the district.5

In Turkey ethnobotanical research has been performed since the Republican period began in 1923 and the effects and names of plants have been documented; these studies have increased in recent years in particular.5

The flora of East Anatolia in Turkey is also rich owing to its different ecological zones, geographical variations, and diversified climates. Erzurum is a medium-size city in eastern Turkey. The province is located in the upper basin of Karasu, the source of the River Euphrates, around the edge of Mount Ereğli in the Palandöken mountain range in the southeast of Erzurum plain, and situated on a curved plateau 1850 to 1980 m above sea level. The province of Erzurum is a local center in whose zone of effect there are all of the provinces of Erzurum, Kars, Iğdır, Ardahan, and Ağrı; but not Refahiye, İliç, and Kemaliye districts, all in Erzincan Province; Bayburt and Yusufeli district; Varto, Bulanık, and Malazgirt districts of Muş Province; Karlıova District of Bingöl Province; and Pulumur District of Tunceli Province.6

The purpose of the present research was to introduce information about the utilization of conventional herbal medicine and other uses of the plants in these districts and was conducted to document the usage of medicinal plants, plant parts utilized, and methods of preparation by the people living in Aziziye, situated in western Erzurum.


Investigation region

The largest geographical area of Turkey is Eastern Anatolia and it is far from the effect of the sea owing to its being surrounded by coastal mountain ranges.7 Erzurum is established in the Upper Euphrates section of the Eastern Anatolian region. It is the largest city in Eastern Anatolia, with a population of 780.847 and an area of 25.066 km2, and it is an old settlement. It lies between 40°15’ and 42°35’ eastern longitudes and 40°57’ and 39°10’ northern latitudes (Figure 1). Erzurum neighbors Rize, Artvin, and Ardahan in the north, Kars and Ağrı in the east, Bingöl and Muş in the south, and Erzincan and Bayburt in the west. Mean daily temperature is 19.6 in summer and -8.6°C in winter. Annual rainfall is 453 mm and the count of days on which it snows is 50. The duration of snow cover is 114 days.8

Data collection

The field research was conducted through collecting ethnobotanical knowledge using structured and semistructured interviews with all knowledgeable people native to 5 villages, namely Söğütlü (1), Çıkrıklı (2), Sorkunlu (3), Kapılı (4), and Beypınarı (5). This study is a project of the Ministry of Forestry and so they decided to study these villages. Midwives, shepherds, woodsmen, farmers, healers, beekeepers, housewives, teachers, mukhtars, and people collecting plants, a total of 98 people, were interviewed face to face. While 56 of the informants were women (57.14%), the remaining 42 were men. For each recorded plant one questionnaire was filled out during the conversations and videos, photos, and records were obtained from these people with their permission. The interviews were conducted in a diversity of places (tea houses, farms, mosques, houses, gardens, fields, etc.). Conversant adults, patients, and local healers were the resources of knowledge and data (local names, therapeutic effects, part (s) of plants utilized, and methods of preparation and administration). Patient consent was not required for the study.

Plant materials

The plants were collected in 2017 and 2018 from the villages. The collected herbs were pressed and described by the author Özkan Aksakal using Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands and Türkiye Bitkiler Listesi (Damarlı Bitkiler).9,10,11 The plant family names were organized in alphabetical order. The scientific names of the herb species were given with reference to the plant list.12 Voucher specimens were stored at the Herbarium of the Faculty of Science, Atatürk University.

Statistical analysis

The data are presented as mean ± standard error and variation analysis was performed through one-way ANOVA determined via Bonferroni complementary analysis, which was conceived to represent statistical significance.


The demographic characteristics of the research participants were recorded through face-to-face interviews. A total of 98 participants (56 female, 42 male) were interviewed (9 persons aged between 27 and 36 years, 18 persons aged between 37 and 46, 26 persons aged between 47 and 56, 23 persons aged between 57 and 66, and 22 persons aged over 66). All of the informants were native and they were living in the villages. Forty-three of the participants had never received education (Table 1).

A total of 77 medicinal plant taxa were collected in Aziziye District (Erzurum, Turkey) and they belong to 30 plant families. Amongst them, 62 species are wild and 15 species are cultivated plants. The 77 herbs defined in the area prepared in alphabetical order of their family and botanical names are presented in Table 2. Anthemis calcarea, Scorzonera tomentosa, Tragopogon aureus, Cephalaria anatolica, and Quercus macranthera are endemic species and therapeutic (Table 2). The most widespread medicinal plant families were Asteraceae (14), Rosaceae (7), Lamiaceae (5), and Apiaceae (5).

The most widely utilized plant organs to prepare remedies were the aerial parts (27), leaves (16), fruits (13), flowers (12), roots (11), seeds (9), and barks (6), although branches, bulbs, stems, and tubers were also utilized in some remedies. On occasion, local people also utilized other components, such as butter, lemon, soap, olive oil, beeswax, egg, or honey to prepare remedies.

The major methods for preparing remedies were decoction, infusion, fresh, chewing, boiling, crushing, and cooking. Decoction (34), crushing (28), infusion (6), and cooking (6) are the methods generally utilized for the preparation of remedies (Table 2).


Plant sources have a long history of being utilized as medicinal necessities. It is frequently mentioned that 80% of the worlds population still relies on conventional medicines to meet their primary healthcare needs and almost 25% of modern medicines are derived from nature, many of which were derived from traditional utilizations. The utilization of traditional medicines is usually affected by the accessibility, availability, and admissibility of healthcare services. Especially in distant regions of developing countries, medicinal plants may form the only existing source of healthcare.

It was seen that some medicinal plant taxa were widely utilized for commercial aims owing to the research conducted in study regions. A large part of the people in the villages of the area mentioned that Cephalaria spp. have been utilized as a hemostatic and for wound healing. Moreover, Alkanna orientalis, Plantago spp., and Malva spp. have been utilized for wounds as an antiinflammatory.

As a result of the study of the plant names, it was determined that most of them were derived from Turkish. Gümüşhane, Erzincan, Kars, Bingöl, Muş, and Ağrı are close to our research area. However, the names of some local plants utilized in these areas varied, such as Plantago major (pel hewes, omulwaş, sinirli ot, sinirotu), Malva neglecta (dolik, tollık), Rosa canina (gül tonik, şilan), Urtica dioica (gezgezok, gerzinık), Gundelia tournefortii (kinger, kereng), Eremurus spectabilis (yelıg, gulık), Alkanna orientalis (gelzun, havajo), and Rheum ribes (rıbes, rıwes, rewas).13,14,15,16,17,18

The informants utilized medical plants mainly for the treatment of wounds and skin conditions, digestive system diseases, respiratory diseases, kidney and urinary system disorders, and diabetes mellitus. It has been determined that the number of plants used for cardiovascular problems is the lowest.

The species Plantago spp., Malva neglecta, Rheum ribes, and Rumex crispus were the most widely utilized medicinal plants and were recorded in Erzurum in the literature. With respect to that literature, Prangos ferulacea (diabetes), Achillea biebersteinii (wounds), A. millefolium (wounds), Anthemis spp. (stomachache), Cichorium intybus (wounds), Alkanna spp. (wounds), Cephalaria spp. (wounds), Malva spp. (wounds), Rheum ribes (diabetes), Ranunculus spp. (rheumatism), and Rosa pimpinellifolia (hemorrhoids) have similar uses.11,12,13,14,15,16

Usages of members of the families Acanthaceae, Amaryllidaceae, Aristolochiaceae, Capparaceae, Caryophyllaceae, Cistaceae, Corylaceae, Crassulaceae, Cuscutaceae, Ephedraceae, Ericaceae, Gentianaceae, Geraniaceae, Illecebraceae, Loranthaceae, Onagraceae, Orchidaceae, Paeoniaceae, Papaveraceae, Plumbaginaceae, Polygalaceae, Portulacaceae, Primulaceae, Resedaceae, Thymelaeaceae, Tiliaceae, Typhaceae, Valerianaceae, and Violaceae were found in other studies but were not recorded in the nearby areas.

The informants stated that Ranunculus spp. should be utilized with care owing to their serious side effects such as edema, irritation, and redness and so these species must not be held on the skin for more than 1-2 min.

Furthermore, during this research we detected that some medicinal plants are utilized as spices and this is more prevalent in rural areas. Mentha longifolia, Mentha aquatica, Origanum rotundifolium, and Micromeria fruticosa are consumed as spices. Especially members of the family Lamiaceae are utilized as spices. In the area, some of the wild edible plants such as Anthemis cretica, Anthemis calcarea, Mentha longifolia, Mentha aquatica, Salvia verticillata subsp. amasiaca, Origanum rotundifolium, Micromeria fruticosa, Rosa canina, Rosa pimpinellifolia, Crataegus pontica, and Crataegus orientalis are utilized as herbal tea.


With the rapid improvement in mobile communication tools, deforestation through anthropogenic activities, and migration of the younger generations to urban areas leaving a gap in the cultural faiths and practices of indigenous society, ethnic values are being diminished from day to day. Furthermore, the younger generations are not interested in folkloric values including traditional medicines. Additionally, the improvement in the health system and easy access to doctors reduced the utilization of medicinal herbs. These factors increase the risk of losing valuable ethnomedicinal knowledge. Hereby, conducting ethnobotanical research is becoming more important as gathering ancient knowledge from people is very difficult.


This work was supported by the Ministry of Forestry and Water Work Natural Protection and General Directorate of National Parks.

Conflicts of interest: No conflict of interest was declared by the authors. The authors alone are responsible for the content and writing of the paper.


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