Among the 670 documented plant species used by the Shuar ofAmazonian Ecuador are 97 non-cultivated, mechanically-dependent taxa: vines, epiphytes, hemi-epiphytes, and parasites. The most common uses ofthese plants are for medicine, animal forage, and food. Twenty-five percent or more of craft, fiber, personal, and poison plants are mechanically-dependent species. The Shuar use six or more species of Araceae, Bignoniaceae, Cucurbitaceae, Ericaceae and Orchidaceae. The 17 useful species of Araceae ar the most provided by any family. Despite their abundance, Bromeliaceae and Orchidaceae are oflimited importance, providing mostly ornamentals and minor medicines. Mechanically-dependent species constitute 15% ofthe plant species used by the Shuar. Analysis ofdata from other studies ofnative Amazonian people in Ecuador show thatepiphytes and lianas comprise 10-22% ofthe species used. Twentyone epiphyte and liana species are reported in two or more studies from this region. Three lianas are among the most important non-food plants for the Shuar and other native people ofnorthwest Amazonia. Lonchocarpus nicou provides a fish poison, Strychnos tomentosa an arrow poison, and Banisteriopsis caapi the principal hallucinogen ofnorthwest Amazonia.
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