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Catalogue of Useful Plants of Colombia



The Catalogue of Useful Plants of Colombia is the most comprehensive listing of the known useful plants for this country. Compiled by a team of Colombian and international botanists from the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, the Humboldt Institute and numerous partner institutions, it consolidates expert-generated information linked and accessible through an online portal (ColPlantA). The checklist is accompanied by 11 chapters written by specialists, providing perspectives on the state of knowledge on the useful plants of Colombia, covering a range of topics, from taxonomic, geographic and conservation aspects, to their use in sustainable value chains and contributions to the bioeconomy, specific topics such as medicinal, edible and insecticide plants, and their representation in the Amazon region, and in Kew’s economic botany collection. The catalogue is further enriched by diverse supplementary material, allowing users to explore further open questions and opportunities, to develop new ideas on the use of plants and their conservation, and to foster social and environmental awareness.
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Despite being the second most biodiverse country in the world, hosting more than 7000 useful species, Colombia is characterized by widespread poverty and food insecurity. Following the growing attention in Neglected and Underutilized Species, the present study will combine spatial and taxonomic analysis to unveil their diversity and distribution, as well as to advocate their potential as key resources for tackling food security in the country. The cataloguing of Colombian edible plants resulted in 3805 species. Among these, the most species-rich genera included Inga, Passiflora, Miconia, Solanum, Pouteria, Protium, Annona and Bactris. Biogeographic analysis revealed major diversity hotspots in the Andean humid forests by number of records, species, families, and genera. The departments of Antioquia, Boyacá, Meta, and Cundinamarca ranked first both in terms of number of unique georeferenced records and species of edible plants. Significant information gaps about species distribution were detected in the departments of Cesar, Sucre, Atlántico, Vichada, and Guainía, corresponding to the Caribe and Llanos bioregions, indicating the urgent need for focusing investigation in these areas. Furthermore, a significant level of geographic specificity was found in edible plant species’ distributions between 13 different bioregions and 33 departments, hinting the adoption of tailorized prioritisation protocols for the conservation and revitalization of such resources at the local level.
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