I studied the uses of the African cherry (Prunus africana) by four ethnic groups who live near the Kilum-Ijim Forest Preserve on Mount Oku, Cameroon. Prunus africana is valued for its timber, which is used for tool handles and for fuel, and it is an important wildlife food. However, its greatest value is for traditional medicines. Healers use the bark and leaves to treat more than 30 human ailments and several animal diseases and it is the most important plant used in their practices. This study is the first to document this importance, particularly for animal medicines. I also examined the growing worldwide herbal use to treat benign prostatic hyperplasia. Market demand has caused resource depletion and an erosion of traditional resource protection practices. Preservation of the species will depend on sustainable harvesting methods and on cultivation.
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