We investigated the relationships between the cultural importance of spider plant (Gynandropsis gynandra), a neglected leafy vegetable in West Africa, and the different management regimes of the species among six socio-linguistic groups in Benin and one in Togo. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 428 respondents. Cultural significance and management indices were used to quantify the importance of the species for each respondent. In addition to food uses, G. gynandra was used to cure 42 different diseases. A regression tree analysis revealed that the cultural importance and level of management of the species were strongly associated with ethnicity, gender, and to a lesser extent to age, education, income, and land tenure. Socio-linguistic groups with similar cultural background had convergent perceptions of the cultural importance of the species and described similar management practices. An analysis of farmers’ willingness to change their current management practices revealed that migration, market opportunities, and external intervention might significantly affect future management decision-making processes. We discuss community-oriented approaches to upscale the species cultivation in the region. Our study highlights how cultural importance influences current and future management intensity and illustrates how ethnobotanical research can guide research for development strategies to enact positive changes in communities’ management of traditional leafy vegetables.
- Neglected and underutilized species
- traditional knowledge
- West Africa