This article relies on ethnographic and household survey data to examine the contribution of magic plants to the overall diversity of plant species managed by rural households in the municipality of Borba, Amazonas state, Brazil. The resulting analysis shows that more than 27 percent of the species managed in smallholder farming communities in Borba are believed to have symbolic powers or magical properties. Furthermore, while households that managed magic plants did not demonstrate a significantly higher average of plant species than those households that did not, households with magic plants did manage a significantly higher average of plant species in home gardens. Drawing on qualitative data, this article discusses the usage of such magic plants, exploring their symbolic powers and their relationship to gender and healing while also considering the ambiguities in their classification. To conclude, it is argued that magic plants and their meanings represent more than an anthropological novelty, but have important implications for (agro)biodiversity conservation.

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