Global assessment of the pollinator dependence of medicinal plants: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Project: Research

Project Details


Animal pollination is necessary in the life cycle of an estimated 87.5% of the world’s flowering plant (Ollerton et al., 2011) and 75% of the world’s leading crops benefit to some degree from animal pollination (Klein et al., 2007).
Much scholarly attention has focussed on the benefits pollinators provide to food production, (Garibaldi et al., 2013). However, animal pollinators are also key to the maintenance of plant diversity (Fontaine et al., 2006), the production of forage and medicines. Approximately 96% of recorded medicinal plants are flowering plants (Kew RBG, 2021), hence about 84% of medicinal plants species conceivably rely to some degree on animal pollination for reproduction (Garibaldi et al., 2022). A large proportion of the global population living in developing countries, relies primarily on herbal medicine products and traditional remedies as a source of healthcare (Bannerman 1982, WHO) and because medicinal plants are almost entirely wild harvested (Vasisht et al., 2016) about 21% worldwide are at risk of extinction (Schippmann et al., 2002). The global loss of pollinators could be driving a simultaneous loss of medicinal plants, impacting more severely regions that are experiencing greater natural systems degradations and have less resources to create resilience against negative impact of climate change (Garibaldi et al 2022).

Despite pollinators potential pivotal role in the reproductive success of medicinal plants, knowledge on the level of dependence and the taxa involved in the pollination of medicinal plants is scattered and not globally quantified.
In this study we are addressing this research gap through a global assessment of the dependence of medicinal plants on animal pollination to understand the threats to this key ecosystem service.
The results of this study will highlight the importance of pollinators on securing the long-term survival of medicinal plants and the potential threat of pollinators decline on their long-term survival. This study will also be a baseline to inform future research directions on key medicinal plants, support conservation and sustainable cultivation strategies to alleviate the pressure of wild harvest.
Short titlePollinators and medicinal plants reproduction
Effective start/end date1/12/23 → …

UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This project contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land


  • Systematic Review
  • Medicinal plants
  • Pollinators
  • Meta-analysis