Gathered food plants (GFPs) (wild and weeds) are crucial for understanding traditional Mediterranean diets. Combining open interviews and free–listing questionnaires, we identified 215 GFP items, i.e., 53 fungi and 162 from 154 vascular plant species. The variation in frequency and in salience among the items follows a rectangular hyperbola. Highly salient species were Silene vulgaris (Moench) Garcke, Scolymus hispanicus L., and Pleurotus eryngii (DC.: Fr.) Quélet. Salience and frequency showed no correlation with the expected health benefits of each species. Regional frequency in the Mediterranean and local frequency are directly related. Thus, local food plants are much less “local” than expected.
Different types of culinary preparations provide the most information in the cluster analysis of variables. The cluster analysis of items produced a tree with 10 clusters that form culture–specific logical entities, allowing people to structure their environment. Within each cluster, plant species are replaced and incorporated provided they resemble the general profile. This allows innovation and adaptation on a local level and explains the differences between adjacent localities in the list of species. Two types of clusters or species complexes are described: “species–labeled” and “uses–labeled.” Lastly, we discuss the underlying empirical basis of the ethnoclassification in the Mediterranean area.