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Comparing Apples and Pears: the Hidden Diversity of Central African Bush Mangoes (Irvingiaceae)
Economic Botany  (IF1.731),  Pub Date : 2020-07-08, DOI: 10.1007/s12231-020-09497-x
Sandrine Gallois, Tinde van Andel, Thomas Heger, Bonaventure Sonké, Amanda G. Henry

Comparing Apples and Pears: The Hidden Diversity of Central African Bush Mangoes (Irvingiaceae). The fruits of Irvingiaceae trees, commonly known as “bush mangoes” or “mangues sauvages,” are crucial foods for Central African human populations, as well as local wildlife. Irvingiaceae oil-rich kernels play an important role in local diet, well-being, and livelihood. When collected for sale, they enter the international market of non-timber forest products (NTFPs), which represents a considerable source of income for central African countries. Despite the importance of bush mangoes, there is a general lack of precision in the literature on the exact species of Irvingiaceae present in local diets and NTFP markets. Few botanical studies include local names and uses of the different Irvingiaceae species, while ethnographical and social studies rarely corroborate their identifications by collecting vouchers. In this study, we combined ethnographic research and botanical collection to verify which Irvingiaceae species were consumed and collected for trade by the Baka, a group of forager-horticulturalists in southeastern Cameroon. We provide evidence of the floristic diversity hidden behind the term “bush mangoes”, as well as the knowledge and uses of Irvingiaceae fruits by the Baka. We discuss the importance of eight Irvingiaceae species for Baka livelihood as well as the potential threats regarding the future of these valuable trees.