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Phytosociological survey in water preservation areas, Southern, Brazil.


The continuous processes of human population growth and urbanization and the constant pressure on fragmented areas of natural vegetation for agricultural practices, lead directly to the degradation of natural environments. Conservation of these areas, especially those with headwaters and riparian zones, are of fundamental importance for the stabilization of water flow and improvements in water quality (Melo et al., 2014). Riparian vegetation plays an important role in protecting streams from nonpoint source pollutants and in improving the quality of degraded water bodies because it influences stream water quality through diverse processes, including direct chemical uptake and indirect influences, such as through the supply of organic matter to soils and channels, the modification of water movement, and the stabilization of soil (Dosskey et al., 2010).

In phytosociological studies, qualitative and quantitative vegetative analyses are used to obtain phytosociological parameters, which provide important data on the horizontal and vertical structure of the vegetation (Andrade, 2004), highlighting the recognition of communities capable of occupying abandoned areas, including riparian zones. Phytosociological surveys made in riparian forests have revealed the great floristic diversity of these ecosystems (e.g., Rodrigues & Nave, 2004) and noted that among the factors that determine this heterogeneity, the conservation status of the vegetation, the original forest type, the vegetation matrix in which it is embedded and the spatial heterogeneity of the physical characteristics of the environment can be highlighted.

Recently, the approach called "Payment for Environmental Services (PES)" has become a new and innovative policy of environmental conservation. PES corresponds to a voluntary transfer of funds from beneficiaries of environmental services to persons performing practices for adequate management of the ecosystem where this environmental service is being produced (Santos, 2009).

In light of these arguments, the University of Santa Cruz do Sul (UNISC) together with the Universal Leaf Tobacco Company and Altadis Foundation (nonprofit organization belonging to the Imperial Tobacco Group) signed an agreement in 2011 whereby the UNISC accepted the execution of the project called "Payment for Environmental Services (PES) in Andreas Stream, Pardo River Basin, RS, Brazil", entitled "Water Guardian". The project was to be developed over a period of 5 years (2011-2015), and the goal was to protect the headwaters and riparian areas of this basin, ensuring the preservation of water resources by paying smallholder farmers for providing environmental services through the protection of headwaters located on their properties. From a preliminary diagnosis, the project "Protector of the Waters" defined the target areas by considering "water production", such as that from springs and riparian zones. These areas were preserved using a fence system by the end of July 2013.

In this context, the present study aimed to evaluate the floristic composition and phytosociological structure of these preserved areas in the Andreas Stream Hydrographic Basin, RS, Brazil, from August 2013 to June 2014, established through the Payment for Environmental Services (PES).

Materials and Methods

Study Area/Sampling

The Andreas Stream Hydrographic Basin is located in the city of Vera Cruz, RS, and is of fundamental importance as a water supply source. The basin shows a drainage area of 80.2 [km.sup.2], with an urban population of 11,183 inhabitants and a rural population of 2,964 inhabitants. The land use is mainly agricultural, dominated by rice, tobacco and corn.

Along this basin, 20 collection points were selected for conducting environmental monitoring studies (Fig. 1), which were located on the rural properties that joined the project "Protector of the Waters". Vegetation samples were collected monthly from August 2013 to July 2014 in these 20 preserved areas. All forest species observed in 10 x 10 m randomly arranged plots were collected according to the technique described by Martins (1993), prepared as herbarium specimens following Silva (1989), and stored in the collection of the Herbarium of UNISC (HCB). The following literature was used for species identification: Sobral et al. (2006) and Backes and Irgang (2002; 2004b) for native trees; Backes and Irgang (2004a) for exotic trees; and Tryon and Tryon (1982) for ferns.

Phytosociological Parameters for Arborescent Species/Trees

Data such as the first branch height, tree height and Breast Height Circumference (BHC) were measured for all tree species that had a BHC [greater than or equal to] 15 cm, at 1.40 m above the ground level. According to Mueller-Dombois and Ellenberg (1974) and Martins (1993), the following quantitative phytosociological parameters were calculated: Absolute Density (DAi) and Relative Density (DRi), Absolute Frequency (FAi), Relative Frequency (FRi), Absolute Dominance (DoAi), Relative Dominance (DoRi), Importance Value Index (IVI) and Importance Value Coverage (IVC).

1. Total Density by Area (DTA): DTA = 10.000/M, where 10.000 = unit area (hectare = 10.000 [m.sup.2]); M = average area; and Average area (M): M = [(d).sup.2], where d = average distance (geometric mean of the distances).

2. Absolute Density (DAi): DAi = (ni/N) x DTA, where ni = sampling number of the species; and N = total number of individuals sampled in the survey, multiplied by Total Density by Area (DTA).

3. Relative Density (DRi): DRi = (ni/N) x 100, where ni = sampling number of the species; and N = total number of individuals sampled in the survey.

4. Absolute Frequency (FAi): FAi = (pi/P) x 100, where pi = number of points where the species is present; and P = total number of sampling points.

5. Relative Frequency (FRi): FRi = (FRi/[SIGMA]FAi) x 100 where FAi = Absolute Frequency of species i; and [SIGMA]FAi = sum of the Absolute Frequencies of all species.

6. Basal Area (BA): AB = [BHC.sup.2]/4, where BHC = Breast Height Circumference.

7. Absolute Dominance (DoAi): DoAi = ABmi x DAi, where ABmi = average basal area of the species (ABi/ni); and DAi = Absolute Density of the species.

8. Relative Dominance (RDoi): DoRi = (ABi/[SIGMA]ABt) x 100. where ABi = total basal area of the species; and ]TABt= total basal area of all species.

9. Cover Value Index (IVC): IVCi = DRi + DoRi/2, where: DRi = Relative Density of species i (%); and DoRi = Relative Dominance of the species i (%).

10. Importance Value Index (IVI): IVI = DRi + DoRi + FRi/3, where DRi = Relative Density of the species; FRi = Relative Frequency of the species; and DoRi = Relative Dominance of the species.

Data Analysis

For data analysis, descriptive statistics were used for tabulation and graphical illustration, such as measures of central tendency and dispersion. Significant differences were established using the non-parametric statistical test of Kruskall-Wallis, followed by the Bonferroni test for multiple comparisons, using significance levels of 5% (p = 0,05) (Callegari-Jacques, 2006).

A cluster analysis was applied based on Ward's method to group the species according to quantitative similarity using the Index of Importance Value (IVI), following the recommendations of Hair et al. (2005). The biological matrix was standardized using the mathematical transformation [ln (x + 1)]. The analyses were performed using the software Past, version 2.15 (Hammer et al., 2001).

Results and Discussion

The species area curve was utilized to determine the necessary number of plots (Fig. 2). The different characteristics associated with the location and preservation of the sampling points were considered before a total of 143 plots of 100 [m.sup.2] were measured. However, at plot 135, the stabilization of the curve was verified and the survey was ended.

A total of 83 tree and arborescent species were identified, divided into 72 genera and 33 families, and observed in a sampling area of 14,300 [m.sup.2], as shown in Table 1. The most representative families showed the following richness in number of species: Fabaceae (13), 16%; Myrtaceae (8), 8%; Meliaceae (5), 6%; the Arecaceae (4), Bignoniaceae (4) and Euphorbiaceaae (4), each 5%; and the Lauraceae (3), Rutaceae (3), Salicaceae (3) and Sapindaceae (3), each 3%. Families that were represented by up to two species were grouped as "other" and combined to account for 40% of the total.

A botanical survey conducted in the Morro do Botucarai, Vale do Rio Pardo, RS, by Longui et al. (1986), noted the significant representation of the Fabaceae family, followed by the Myrtaceae, Lauraceae and Euphorbiaceae families. From the physiognomic point of view, the authors also mentioned the Sapindaceae, Salicaceae, Meliaceae, Boraginaceae, Moraceae, Arecaceae and Sapotaceae families. Similarly, in a survey conducted by Melo et al. (2014), also in the Morro do Botucarai, the family that showed the highest number of species was the Fabaceae with 10, followed by the Lauraceae (7), Euphorbiaceae (6), Myrtaceae (6), Meliaceae (4), Sapindaceae (4), Arecaceae (3), Moraceae (3) and Salicaceae (3).

As previously mentioned, it can be argued that the pattern of distribution of plant species in the central region of the Rio Grande do Sul State is homogeneous. Following Rambo, (1951), the forest fragments studied can be characterized as subtropical vegetation (deciduous forest).

Among the phytosociological parameters measured, the Importance Value Index (IVI) is the combination of different values relative to species, such as the relative density, relative frequency and relative dominance, which gives species a hierarchical value of relative importance within the plant community in natural regeneration surveys (Matteucci & Colma, 1982). Yet, according to Salomao et al. (2011), the IVI aims to support and assist in decision-making when selecting which tree species will be a priority (key species) in forest restoration work in Areas of Permanent Preservation (APP) and Legal Reserve Areas (LRA). Thus. the IVI was chosen as a phytosociological parameter to represent the tree/shrub-tree communities in headwater areas of Andreas Stream.

In this way, the 83 species identified were clustered into five groups using a cluster analysis based on the average IVI, as observed in Fig. 3. Among the five groups, Group 1 (G-1) had the highest average value of IVI: 7.5 [+ or -] 4.0. Among the species that form G-1, C. vernalis was the most important species because it showed the highest average value of IVI (14.3 [+ or -] 2.0 %), followed by A. edulis (8.7 [+ or -] 2.0 %), I. marginata (7.6 [+ or -] 2.0 %), N. megapotamica (7.0 [+ or -] 2.0 %). C. sylvestris (4.3 [+ or -] 2.0 %) and M. elaeagnoides (2.9 [+ or -] 2.05%). As shown in Fig. 4, the average IVI in G-1 was significantly different (p < 0.05) from that of other groups. The high representativeness of this group is associated with the spread of these plants, which occurs exclusively by animals. These forest species are the main food sources for the vast majority of birds and mammals in the region, which contribute to their rapid spread. These species are also important because they develop rapidly and are suitable for restoration of degraded areas (Backes & Irgang 2004a, b). For these reasons, these species are recommended for restocking in preservation areas that have been degraded.

Group 2 (G-2) is formed by species whose distribution occurs mainly by wind or rain, as in the case of E. cristagalli, B. suaveolens, P. rigida, B. forficata and A. nitidifolia. In groups G-3, G-4 and G-5, the plants' seed dispersion occurs exclusively by wind or by specific animal species, such as S. morototoni, where dispersion occurs only by primates. The groupings are also related to the degree of preservation of the forest, providing conditions for the maintenance of the arborescent vegetation, as well as plants that occur in more moist and shady environments, such as D. sellowiana and E. edulis (Backes & Irgang, 2002).

It should be noted that of the 83 species sampled, eight are exotic species, as follows: T. papyriferum; T. stans; P. americana; B. dolichomerithalla; H. dulcis; C. reticulata; B. suaveolens and P. guajava. The impact on biodiversity caused by alien species is high and is considered the second largest threat to biodiversity loss. These exotic species cause habitat destruction, directly affecting biological communities, the economy and human health (MMA, 2005). To protect these forest fragments, a regional program should be implemented to control and eradicate these invasive species.

The deciduous forest is represented by a continuous tree layer with a height not exceeding 20 m, mainly comprising evergreen species and a distinct layer of saplings and emerging species with heights ranging from 25 and 30 m (Both, 2009). The face of this forest is determined by emerging species, represented mainly by deciduous legumes, such as Apuleia leiocarpa (Vogel) J. F. Macbr. and P. rigida; the continuum tree layer comprises C. americana, H. balansae and E. rostrifolia; and the saplings stratum comprises the genera Actinostemon, Sorocea and Trichilia. The highest representation from the Fabaceae family in this survey is also supported by the surveys conducted by Jarenkow and Waechter (2001), who reported the dominance of legumes in the deciduous forest. This vegetation composition is striking and easily observed in forest fragments in the Andreas Basin. The only exception is the absence of A. leiocarpa because this species is largely undiscovered by farmers despite the great economic value of its wood for construction, barrels and as an energy source (Backes & Irgang 2004b).

In short, this research is an unprecedented study of vegetation in preservation areas around springs and in riparian areas. In fact, the results showed that the preservation of these strategic areas turned out to be a key piece for forest conservation, considering that in the short term, there will be reduction in soil loss to the rivers and a consequent increase in the possibility of groundwater recharge, contributing to the normality of the hydrological cycle, and ultimately promoting an increase in water availability.


The floristic composition in the Andreas Basin is complex and variable, characterized by typical species of the Atlantic Forest biome and by species associated with riparian vegetation. The fragments can be classified into the middle stage of ecological succession, a condition featuring a gradual increase in the spatial and temporal diversity of species. There are three groups of species with different locations within the fragment: those located at the edge of watercourses, which depend on the dynamics of the waterway (water level fluctuations, humidity, etc.); the species found within the fragment, which depend strongly on the synergistic interactions of the ecosystem, with no significant influence of the moisture factor; and the species found on the edge of the fragment, which are pioneer species and typical of better drained areas.

The importance of riparian forests in areas of springs was made possible by the demarcation and isolation of these areas, leaving them protected as conservation areas under the "Water Guardian" project during the year 2013, which pays smallholder farmers for providing environmental services that protect the headwaters located in their properties, giving farmers an additional opportunity to increase their income through the conservation of water resources, characterizing them as water producers.

The adoption of PES by farmers to protect the springs and riparian areas located on their properties is a highly efficient action in terms of sustainability, highlighted by the possibility of an increase in the diversity of forest species from the representative vegetation of these areas around springs that are classified as the middle stage of ecological succession. In this context, the adoption of PES as a sustainable development policy instrument by public agencies in rural territories makes it a promising alternative in terms of public management.

The preservation areas in rural properties that have joined the PES between 2011 and 2015 showed an evident recovery and a balance in the biological conditions, since there was verified an increase in plant species diversity in all sampling points, as well as a significant improvement in the water quality of spring areas. The dynamic in the distribution of forest species along the Basin is also directly associated with the local fauna, especially birds and mammals, as the main dispersers of the flora seeds. A gradual process of ecological succession is underway in these areas, in addition to soil stabilization, by reducing the erosion processes and increasing the floristic composition, from the stabilization of the forest strata, as well as the increasing in water availability. In this context, the adoption of PES in the rural properties is an environmental management tool of great importance for recovering water resources, in addition to forming natural corridors for gene flow of flora and fauna, and improves the life quality of fanners.

DOI 10.1007/sl 2229-016-9172-z

Acknowledgments The authors thank CAPES/FAPERGS (Higher Education Personnel Training Coordination/Rio Grande do Sul Research Foundation) for the scholarship grant to the first author to pursue graduate studies. We thank FAPERGS for financial support through the Edict n[degrees] 16/2012. Additionally, thanks arc due to the Universal Leaf Tobacco Company and Fundacion Altadis for financial support of the project "Water Guardian" over the period 2011-2015. Thanks also to Professor Silmo Schuler for providing fructiferous discussion.

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Nilmar A. de Melo (1,4) * Dionei M. Delevati (2) * Jair Putzke (3) * Eduardo A. Lobo (3)

(1) University of Santa Cruz do Sul (UNISC), Av. Independencia, 2293, Bairro Universitario, CEP 96815-900 Santa Cruz do Sul, RS, Brazil

(2) Department of Engineering, Architecture and Agricultural Sciences of UNISC, Santa Cruz do Sul, RS, Brazil

(3) Department of Biology and Pharmacy of UNISC, Santa Cmz do Sul, RS, Brazil

(4) Author for Correspondence; e-mail:

Published online: 28 October 2016

Table 1 List of tree/arborescent species occurring in 20 collection

Family              Species

ADOXACEAE           Sambucus australis Cham. & Schlecht.
ANACARDIACEAE       Schinus molle L.
                    Schinus terebinthifolius Raddi.
ANNONACEAE          Amona neosalicifolia H. Rainer
                    Amona sylvatica A. St. -Hil.
ARAL1ACEAE          Schefflera morototoni (Aubl.) Maguire,
                      Steyerm. & Frodin.
                    Tetrapanax papyriferum (Hook.) C. Koch.
ARAUCARIACEAE       Araucaria angustifolia (Bertol.) Kuntze.
ARECACEAE           Bactris setosa Mart.
                    Butia capitata (Mart.) Becc.
                    Euterpe edulis Mart.
                    Syagrus romanzoffiana (Cham.) Glassmann.
ASTERACEAE          Dasyphyllum spinescens (Less.) Cabrera
                    Gochnatia polymorpha (Less.) Cabrera
BIGNON1ACEAE        Jacaranda micrantha Cham.
                    Handroanthus albus (Cham.) Mattos.
                    Handroanthus heptaphyllus (Mart.) Mattos.
                    Tecoma stans (L.) Juss. ex. Kenth.
BORAGINACEAE        Cordia americana (L.) Gottschling. & J.E.Mill
                    Cordia trichotoma (Veil.) Arrab. ex Steud.
CANNABACEAE         Trema micrantha (L.) Blume
CARDIOPTERIDACEAE   Citronella paniculata (Mart.) R. A. Howard.
CARICACEAE          Vasconcellea quercifolia A. St. Hill
CYATHEACEAE         Alsophila setosa Kaulf.
                    Cyathea atrovirens (Langsd. & Fisch)
DICKSONIACEAE       Dicksonia sellowiana Hook.
EUPHORBIACEAE       Actinostemon concolor (Spreng.) Mull.
                    Alchornea triplinervia (Spreng.) Mull. Arg.
                    Sapium glandulosum (L.) Morong.
                    Tetrorchidium rubrivenium Poep. & Endl.
FABACEAE            Abarema langsdorffii (Benth.) B. & J. Grimes
                    Acacia nitidifolia Spreng.
                    Bauhinia forficataLink.
                    Calliandra brevipes Benth.
                    Calliandra tweediei Benth.
                    Enterolobium contorstisiliquum (Vell.)
                    Erythrina cristagalli L.
                    Erythrina falcata Benth
                    Inga marginata Willd.
                    Machaerium paraguariense Hassl.
                    Mimosa bimucronata (D.C.) Kuntze
                    Parapiptadenia rigida (Benth.) Brenan.
                    Phanera microstachya (Raddi.) L.P. Queiroz
LAURACEAE           Nectandra megapotamica (Spreng.) Mez
                    Nectandra oppositifolia Nees.
                    Persea americana Will.
LOGANIACEAE         Strychnos brasiliensis (Spreng.) Mart.
MALVACEAE           Luehea divaricata Mart & Zuce.
MELIACEAE           Cabralea canjerana (Veil.) Mart.
                    Cedrela fissilis Veil.
                    Guarea macrophylla Vahl.
                    Trichilia catigua A. Juss.
                    Trichilia clausseni C. DC.
MONIMIACEAE         Hennecartia omphalandra J. Poiss.
MORACEAE            Ficus luschnathiana (Miq.) Miq.
                    Sorocea bonplandii (Baill.) W.C. Burger,
                      Lanjouw & Boer
MYRSINACEAE         Myrsine umbellata Mart.
MYRTACEAE           Acca sellowiana (O.Berg) Burret.
                    Campomanesia xanthocarpa 0. Berg.
                    Eugenia involucrata DC.
                    Eugenia pyriformis Cambess.
                    Eugenia rostrifolia D. Legrand.
                    Eugenia uniflora L.
                    Myrcianthes pungens (Berg.) Legrand.
                    Psidium guajava L.
PHYTOLACCACEAE      Phytolacca dioica L.
POACEAE             Bambusa dolichomerithalla (Hayata) Nakai.
PODOCARPACEAE       Podocarpus lambertii Klotz
RHAMNACEAE          Hovenia dulcis Thunberg.
RUBIACEAE           Guettarda uruguensis Cham. & Schltdl.
RUTACAE             Citrus reticulata Blanco
                    Helieta apiculata Benth
                    Zanthoxylum fagara (L.) Sarg.
SALICACEAE          Casearia obliqua Spreng
                    Casearia silvestris Sw.
                    Salix humboldtiana Willd.
SAPINDACEAE         Allophylus edulis (A. St-Hill., Cambess. &
                      A. J.) R.
                    Cupania vernalis Cambess.
                    Matayba elaeagnoides Radlk.
SOLANACEAE          Brugmansia suaveolens (H.&. ex. W)
                      B. & C. Presl.
                    Solatium mauritinianum Scop.
URTICACEAE          Boehmeria caudata Sw.
                    Urera baccifera (L.) Gaudich.

Family              Popular name

ADOXACEAE           Sabugueiro
ANACARDIACEAE       Aroeira salso
                    Aroeira vermelha
ANNONACEAE          Araticum do mato
                    Araticum do campo
ARALIACEAE          Caixeta
                    Folha de papel
ARAUCARIACEAE       Pinheiro do parana
ARECACEAE           Tucum
ASTERACEAE          Cambara de espinho
BIGNON1ACEAE        Caroba
                    Ipe amarelo
                    Ipe roxo
                    Falso ipe de jardim
BORAGINACEAE        Guajuvira
CANNABACEAE         Pau polvora
CARICACEAE          Mamoeiro do mato
CYATHEACEAE         Xaxim de espinho
                    Xaxim de espinho
EUPHORBIACEAE       Laranjeira do mato
FABACEAE            Brinco de macaco
                    Vamos junto
                    Pata de vaca
                    Topete de cardeal
                    Topete de cardeal
                    Corticeira do banhado
                    Corticeira da serra
                    Inga feijao
                    Farinha seca
                    Unha de gato
                    Angico vermelho
                    Tripa de galinha
LAURACEAE           Canela preta
                    Canela ferrugem
LOGANIACEAE         Esporao de galo
MALVACEAE           Acoita cavalo
MELIACEAE           Cangerana
                    Catigua morcego
                    Catigua vermelho
MONIMIACEAE         Canema
MORACEAE            Figueira mata pau
MYRSINACEAE         Capororoca
MYRTACEAE           Goiabeira da serra
POACEAE             Taquareira
PODOCARPACEAE       Pinheiro bravo
RHAMNACEAE          Uva do japao
RUBIACEAE           Veludinho
RUTACAE             Bcrgamotcira
                    Canela de veado
                    Mamica de cadela
SALICACEAE          Guacatunga
                    Cha de bugre
                    Salso chorao
SAPINDACEAE         Chal chal
                    Camboata vermelho
                    Camboata branco
SOLANACEAE          Trombeteira
                    Fumo bravo
URTICACEAE          Urtiga mansa


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Author:de Melo, Nilmar A.; Delevati, Dionei M.; Putzke, Jair; Lobo, Eduardo A.
Publication:The Botanical Review
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:3BRAZ
Date:Dec 1, 2016
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