Editor-in-Chief Hatice Kübra Elçioğlu Vice Editors Levent Kabasakal Esra Tatar Online ISSN 2630-6344 Publisher Marmara University Frequency Bimonthly (Six issues / year) Abbreviation J.Res.Pharm. Former Name Marmara Pharmaceutical Journal
Journal of Research in Pharmacy 2012 , Vol 16 , Num 3
An ethnobotanical study of the useful and edible plants of İzmit
Çağla Kızılarslan1, Neriman Özhatay2
1Bezmialem Vakıf Üniversitesi, Eczacılık Fakültesi Farmasötik Botanik Anabilim Dalı, İstanbul, Türkiye
2İstanbul Üniversitesi, Eczacılık Fakültesi Farmasötik Botanik Anabilim Dalı, İstanbul, Türkiye
DOI : 10.12991/201216398


İzmit ilçesinde yapılan bu etnobotanik çalışmada 145 adet bitki örneği toplanmıştır. Arazi çalışmalarında yöre halkıyla görüşülerek bitkilerin kullanım amaçları ve kullanılan kısımları gibi bilgiler derlenmiştir. Yapılan bu çalışma sonucunda 42 familyaya ait 96 taksonun etnobotanik kullanımı olduğu saptanmıştır. Bunlardan 60 (51 doğal, 9 kültür) takson gıda olarak ve 64 takson da (51 doğal, 13 kültür) çeşitli diğer amaçlar için kullanılmaktadır. Yapmış olduğumuz çalışma ile büyük şehirlere yakın yerleşim alanlarında bile bitkilerin etnobotanik kullanımlarının hala varolduğu görülmüştür.


In terms of plant diversity Turkey is one of the richest countries in the world. The Turkish flora is estimated to contain more than 10.000 species of vascular plants of which about 3.034 (approximately 34 %) are endemic[1-6].

For a long time plants have played very important role for human life. As is the case with elsewhere in the world, Turkish people have utilized plants for a long time as medicinal, food, fuel and dye, as well as for ornamentation, agricultural tools, furniture and construction materials. Ethnobotanical studies have been carried out in Turkey since the early years of the 19th century[7].

The aim of this study is to collect information about the ethnobotanical usages in İzmit province (Northwest Turkey) before they are completely lost. In this paper, priority is given to the description of useful and edible plants in İzmit province (Northwest Turkey).


Our research area, İzmit, is situated in Marmara Region in Northwest Turkey (Figure 1). İzmit is the centre province of Kocaeli and it has an area of 974 km² and its population is 373.034. İzmit is a coast county which is established between the most important Asia and Europe transition line. It has close proximity to İstanbul metropolitan city. The economy in the county mostly based on industry. Because of this, the majority of the population consists of people all around the Turkey and also immigrants from Balkans and Caucasus.

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FIGURE 1: Study area: İzmit district, Turkey

This study is a part of a master thesis named “An Ethnobotanical Survey in The South Part of İzmit Gulf”[8]. The field works of the study were carried out between April 2006-September 2007. During the research, 9 municipalities and 15 villages were visited and 145 specimens were collected. The informations for these plants, such as their usages and used parts were recorded to “Ethnobotanical data forms”. Information was collected from both the elder and the young local people through interviews. The plants were collected with the help of the informants. Taxonomical determination of the collected specimens was made by using “Flora of Turkey and the East Aegean Islands”[1-3] and “Flora of Europaea”[9]. The voucher specimens were kept in the Herbarium of the Faculty of Pharmacy, İstanbul University (ISTE). Scientific n ames of plant species were identified according to the International Plant Names Index (http://www.ipni.org).


During this research, 145 specimens were collected from the area. According to the results of the identifications, 96 plant taxa belonging to 42 families have ethnobotanical usages. The ethnobotanical usages of plants are given in Table 1. Among these 96 plant taxa, 60 taxa (51 wild, 9 cultivated) are used as edibles and 64 taxa (51 wild, 13 cultivated) are used for different purposes. Several taxa were recorded a s being used for more than one purpose. Photos of some plants which were taken from the study area are given in Figure 2.

TABLE 1: Ethnobotanical usages of plants in İzmit province.

TABLE 1 CONTINUED: Ethnobotanical usages of plants in İzmit province.

TABLE 1 CONTINUED: Ethnobotanical usages of plants in İzmit province.

TABLE 1 CONTINUED: Ethnobotanical usages of plants in İzmit province.

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FIGURE 2: (1) Usage of Petasites hybridus leaves as hat, (2) Dried Phytolacca americana fruits for colouring cabbage pickle to pink, (3) Erica arborea as broom, (4) Sambucus nigra fruits as nail polish, (5) Rubus sanctus stem as food, (6) Juncus inflexus for wattling, (7) Euonymus latifolius subsp. latifolius seeds for making bead, (8) Arbutus unedo fruits in the bazaar, (9) Verbascum speciosum as a gun in children’s play.

In a number of cases, some of the taxa are known under the same local name. For instance Ranunculus constantinopolitanus, Cichorium intybus as “Sakızotu”, Taraxacum scaturiginosum, Tussilago farfara, Cichorium intybus as “Hindiba”, Convolvulus arvensis, Convolvulus betonicifolius subsp. betonicifolius as “Leksiotu”, Cirsium creticum subsp. creticum, Datura stramonium as “Eşekdikeni”, Lamium purpureum var. purpureum, Scrophularia scopolii var. scopolii as “Ballıbaba”, Malva nicaeensis, Malva sylvestris as “Ebegömeç, Ebegümeci”, Mentha longifolia subsp. typhoides var. typhoides, Mentha spicata subsp. spicata as “Nane, Yabaninane”, Verbascum speciosum, Petasites hybridus as “Kabalak”, Sambucus ebulus, Sambucus nigra as “Lor, Lüver, Piran, Sultan, Şahmelek”, Rubus canescens var. canescens, Rubus sanctus as “Böğürtlen, Diken, Mora”, Oenanthe pimpinelloides, Capsella bursa-pastoris as “Kazayağı” and Sonchus asper subsp. glaucescens, Taraxacum scaturiginosum as “Sütlüot”.

Local people usually consume plants as edibles. These 60 edible plant taxa are distributed among 30 families and 58 genera. The most frequently used families are Asteraceae and Rosaceae (13,3 %), Lamiaceae (11,7 %), Brassicaceae (8,3 %), Geraniaceae, Apiaceae, Moraceae and Liliaceae (5 %). The genera which is represented with the highest number of taxa among edible plants are: Geranium, Malva, Mentha, Morus, Rubus and Rumex.

The mostly used parts of edible plants are leaf, young stem and fruit. Leaves are usually boiled and eaten as salad or cooked as a meal and cooked for pastry. Leaves of Arum italicum are boiled a few times firstly and then the boiled water is thrown away because of its alkaloid content.

Some plants of the Apiaceae family like Oenanthe pimpinelloides, Heracleum platytaenium and Chaerophyllum byzantinum are consumed as edible or fodder in İzmit. But food plants of the Apiaceae family contain a group of bioactive aliphatic C17-polyacetylenes. These polyacetylenes have shown to be highly toxic towards fungi, bacteria and mammalian cells and to display neurotoxic, antiinflammatory and anti-platelet-aggregatory effects and to be responsible for allergic skin reactions[10]. Also some members of Apiaceae family are reported to cause photosensitization[11,12], because of these reasons they have to be used carefully.

Local people also use plants for different purposes in İzmit. These 64 various useful plant taxa are distributed among 32 families and 56 genera. Among these plants, the genera which is represented with the highest number of taxa are: Convolvulus, Ruscus, Sambucus and Trifolium. The most frequently uses are; 19 taxa as fodder, 7 taxa as fuel, 6 taxa as tea, 5 taxa as broom, 5 taxa in the treatment of animal diseases and 3 taxa for colouring henna. Rhodendron ponticum subsp. ponticum and Castanea sativa are used as beeplant. Flowers of Rhodendron ponticum subsp. ponticum is used for getting “Deli Bal (Poisonous honey)”. But this plant contains Grayanotoxin I (Andromedotoxin) and can cause poisoning[13]. Also Helleborus orientalis, Pteridium aquilinum and Sorghum halepense var. halepense are used as fodder and they can cause poisoning in animals[14].

According to our results, there is 1 endemic plant; Lathyrus undulatus which is used as fodder by local people. The responsibility of researchers is to give informations to local people about endemic plants and their usages. This result gives us an important information to protect our natural habitat in the study area for long term. Ethnobotanical knowledge becomes widespread by immigration. The majority of the population in İzmit consists of people all around the Turkey and also immigrants from Balkans and Caucasus. Because of this, ethnobotanical knowledge is mostly gathered from different areas, so various informations have been found in İzmit.

The results of our study show that even in countrys that are situated in close proximity to metropolitan cities, the ethnobotanical usages of plants are still alive. And also documenting not only about medicinal plants but also edible plants and plants for different usages (fodder, fuel etc.) are necessary before the knowledge of these usages has been completely lost.

This research was financially supported by İstanbul University Research Fund (Project No: T-989/06102006). Thanks to all interviewers who participated in this study by provi ding information.


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