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Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 5(15), pp. 3404-3411, 4 August, 2011 Available online at http://www.academicjournals.org/JMPR ISSN 1996-0875 ©2011 Academic Journals

Rural and urban populations in Valles Centrales, Oaxaca, Mexico, use certain plant species for therapeutic and dietary purposes. The wild-growing plants most commonly consumed during the rainy season by those with scarce economic resources are Portulaca oleracea L., Galinsoga quadriradiata Ruiz & Pavon and Anoda cristata (L.) Schltdl. (vernacular names: verdolaga, piojito and violeta, respectively). Cnidoscolus chayamansa Mc Vaugh, a cultivated plant known as chaya, is also frequently consumed. This work aims to document the ethnobotanical and nutritional importance of these four plants. A semi-structured interview was applied to 175 middle-aged and elderly women selected by snowball technique. Chaya and violeta had both medicinal and dietary uses. Chaya was used in the treatment of diabetes, high cholesterol, renal disorders, high blood pressure, as a weight loss aid, and for inflammation of the arms and legs. Violeta was used as a cough remedy. These plants were consumed in a tea prepared from fresh plant parts. Verdolaga and piojito were only consumed as food. Chaya was the best source of ascorbic acid (350.83 mg/100 g), retinol (5.26 mg/100 g), iron (7.51 mg/100 g) and protein (8.15%). Chaya’s potential as a medicinal and edible plant suggests this species ought to be cultivated commercially. Key words: Anoda cristata (L.) Schltdl., Cnidoscolus chayamansa Mc Vaugh, Galinsoga quadriradiata Ruiz and Pavon, Portulaca oleracea L.