IMPORTANCE OF BUSH GRAPE (VITEX SPP.) AS FOOD AND MEDICINAL PLANT TO THE DAGARTI SPEAKING PEOPLE OF THE UPPER WEST REGION OF NORTHERN GHANA
Bush grape, (Vitex doniana) is one of the wild fruit plants commonly growing in savanna areas of northern Ghana. It is a perennial deciduous plant, which grows into a small tree with rough bark, pale brown or grayish-white in colour. The fruits of the tree are sweet, and are black when ripe. Dagarti speaking ethnic group, known as Dagaabas, mostly found in the Upper Western Region of Ghana, are one of the main users of this fruit in Northern Ghana. The plant, fruits and leaves are locally called oon-na tia, oon-na and bona-gbe, respectively, in Dagarti language. The berries either mature on the plant, or are harvested by Dagaabas, and buried in the soil for quick and early maturity. These fruits serve as meals for both adults and children at the beginning of the rainy season, when many other foods are not available. In traditional medicine, the bush grape fruit also has medicinal properties, which include the treatment of anemia, jaundice and dysentery. Its leaves make a delicacy vegetable dish of the Dagaaba people. There are traditional songs which give important messages, educating the youth on the importance of the use of the plant and the need to conserve it. Even with the rapid modernization of the traditional way of life and the influx of imported fruits and medicines, the use of the bush grape is still widespread among the Dagaabas, leading to threat of the virtual extinction of the plant in their communities, due to overuse and the lack of systematic cultivation. There is therefore an overwhelming need to protect Vitex spp. trees remaining in the wild, as well as to promote its introduction into local nurseries and home gardens/farms. Necessary research on its uses and benefits is also lacking in Ghana and much work is required in order to sustain and promote its use.
Kranjac-Berisavljevic, G. and Gandaa, B.Z. (2013). IMPORTANCE OF BUSH GRAPE (VITEX SPP.) AS FOOD AND MEDICINAL PLANT TO THE DAGARTI SPEAKING PEOPLE OF THE UPPER WEST REGION OF NORTHERN GHANA. Acta Hortic. 979, 669-673
conservation, ethnobotany, hunger gap, traditional medicine