Ethnobotanical knowledge of Astragalus spp.: The world’s largest genus of vascular plants

Document Type : Review Article


1 Department of Biology, Payame Noor University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Botany, Research Center for Plant Sciences, Ferdowsi University of Mashhad, Mashhad, Iran


Objective: Astragalus L. (Fabaceae) is the largest genus of vascular plants in the world, that comprises an estimated number of 2900 annual and perennial species. The members of this genus have a broad spectrum of usages (e.g. medicine, food, fodder, fuel, ornamental plants, etc.). Here, we present a review of ethnobotanical applications of different species of Astragalus by various ethnic and cultural groupings worldwide, to provide an exhaustive database for future works.
Materials and Methods: Literature survey was performed using Scopus, Google Scholar, PubMed, Medline, and Science Direct, and English and non-English reference books dealing with useful properties of the Astragalus species from 1937 to 2018. Consequently, we reviewed a total of 76 publications that supported lucrative information about various uses of this huge genus.
Results: Several ethnobotanical uses of 90 Astragalus taxa were documented which were mainly originated from Asian and European countries. The two most frequently mentioned Astragalus treatments, were against urinary and respiratory diseases. The most commonly used part was gum and the most frequently used preparation method was decoction.
Conclusion: This review highlights that various Astragalus species have great traditional uses in different ethnobotanical practices throughout the world. However, there is still lack of phytochemical and pharmacological researches on many species of Astragalus and further studies are required to substantiate the therapeutic potential of them which will develop new generation of plant-derived drugs in the near future.


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