The editors of Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine would like to thank all our reviewers who have contributed to the journal in Volume 9 (2013).
Bodhi beads are a Buddhist prayer item made from seeds. Bodhi beads have a large and emerging market in China, and demand for the beads has particularly increased in Buddhism regions, especially Tibet. Many people have started to focus on and collect Bodhi beads and to develop a Bodhi bead culture. But no research has examined the source plants of Bodhi beads. Therefore, ethnobotanical surveys were conducted in six provinces of China to investigate and document Bodhi bead plants. Reasons for the development of Bodhi bead culture were also discussed.
Six provinces of China were selected for market surveys. Information was collected using semi-structured interviews, key informant interviews, and participatory observation with traders, tourists, and local residents. Barkhor Street in Lhasa was focused on during market surveys because it is one of the most popular streets in China.
Forty-seven species (including 2 varieties) in 19 families and 39 genera represented 52 types of Bodhi beads that were collected. The most popular Bodhi bead plants have a long history and religious significance. Most Bodhi bead plants can be used as medicine or food, and their seeds or fruits are the main elements in these uses. ‘Bodhi seeds’ have been historically used in other countries for making ornaments, especially seeds of the legume family. Many factors helped form Bodhi bead culture in China, but its foundation was in Indian Buddhist culture.
As one of the earliest adornment materials, seeds played an important role for human production and life. Complex sources of Bodhi beads have different cultural and historical significance. People bought and collected Bodhi beads to reflect their love and admiration for the plants. Thus, the documentation of Bodhi bead plants can serve as a basis for future investigation of Bodhi bead culture and modern Buddhist culture.
Bodhi beads; Seeds; Buddhist culture
This essay, which is the fourth in the series “Recollections, Reflections, and Revelations: Ethnobiologists and Their First Time in the Field”, is a personal reflection by the researcher on his first field experience with ethnobiology of so called Afro-brazilian cults. The author recounts his feelings and concerns associated with initial fieldwork.
Ethnobiology; Ethnobotany; Ethnography; Fieldwork; Evocations
There is continued reliance on conventional veterinary drugs including anthelmintics, to some of which resistance has developed. Loss of indigenous technical knowledge (ITK) from societies affects the opportunities for utilization of ethnopharmacological practices unless properly documented. This study was conducted to identify common traditional practices using medicinal plants against helminthosis and other livestock diseases in Mpigi and Gulu districts of Uganda.
Seven focus group discussions with ten farmers per group plus 18 key informant interviews were held in each district from August to November 2011. Ranking was used to quantify disease burdens and to identify priority livestock and breeds. Samples of each plant were submitted to Makerere University herbarium for identification and documentation. The local name, relative availability and International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) status were recorded.
Seventy six farmers in Mpigi and 74 in Gulu were interviewed. Theileriosis and helminthosis were the most common disease conditions in cattle and goats, respectively. Forty plant species within 34 genera from 22 botanical families were identified, with 20 of these used against helminthosis. Other plants treated wounds and ecto-parasites, theileriosis, retained placenta and bovine ephemeral fever. Non-plant practices (7) and plants cited were used in combination depending on availability. Males older than 40 years had most ethnopharmacological knowledge. Most plants (75%, n = 40) were common, but 10 were rare. IUCN status was not evaluated for 95% of these plants. Conventional and traditional drug use in Gulu and Mpigi districts was different (χ2 = 24; p < 0.001). The scientific, English, Luganda and Acholi names of all plants and their availability within the communities are documented herein.
This is the first detailed livestock-related ethnopharmacological study in Gulu district. Farmers in Uganda are still using a variety of practices to treat livestock ailments. Scientific validation and evaluation of conservation status are urgently needed to ensure future availability and knowledge about these plant resources.
Ethnopharmacological practices; Herbarium; ITK; Plants; Medicine; Helminthosis; Conservation
This paper constitutes an important ethnobiological survey in the context of utilizing biological resources by residents of Kala Chitta hills of Pothwar region, Pakistan. The fundamental aim of this research endeavour was to catalogue and analyse the indigenous knowledge of native community about plants and animals. The study is distinctive in the sense to explore both ethnobotanical and ethnozoological aspects of indigenous culture, and exhibits novelty, being based on empirical approach of Multinomial Logit Specifications (MLS) for examining ethnobotanical and ethnozoological uses of specific plants and animals.
To document the ethnobiological knowledge, the survey was conducted during 2011–12 by employing a semi-structured questionnaire and thus 54 informants were interviewed. Plant and animal specimens were collected, photographed and properly identified. Distribution of plants and animals were explored by descriptive and graphical examination. MLS were further incorporated to identify the probability of occurrence of diversified utilization of plants and animals in multipurpose domains.
Traditional uses of 91 plant and 65 animal species were reported. Data analysis revealed more medicinal use of plants and animals than all other use categories. MLS findings are also in line with these proportional configurations. They reveal that medicinal and food consumption of underground and perennial plants was more as compared to aerial and annual categories of plants. Likewise, medicinal utilization of wild animals and domestic animals were more commonly observed as food items. However, invertebrates are more in the domain of medicinal and food utilization. Also carnivores are fairly common in the use of medicine while herbivores are in the category of food consumption.
This study empirically scans a good chunk of ethnobiological knowledge and depicts its strong connection with indigenous traditions. It is important to make local residents beware of conservation status of species and authentication of this knowledge needs to be done in near future. Moreover, Statistically significant findings impart novelty in the existing literature in the field of ethnobiology. Future conservation, phytochemical and pharmacological studies are recommended on these identified plants and animals in order to use them in a more sustainable and effective way.
Ethnobotany; Ethnozoology; Multinomial logit; Kala Chitta hills; Pothwar region; Pakistan
Data from an ethnobotanical study were analyzed to see if they were in agreement with the biochemical basis of the apparency hypothesis based on an analysis of a pharmacopeia in a rural community adjacent to the Araripe National Forest (Floresta Nacional do Araripe - FLONA) in northeastern Brazil. The apparency hypothesis considers two groups of plants, apparent and non-apparent, that are characterized by conspicuity for herbivores (humans) and their chemical defenses.
This study involved 153 interviewees and used semi-structured interviews. The plants were grouped by habit and lignification to evaluate the behavior of these categories in terms of ethnospecies richness, use value and practical and commercial importance. Information about sites for collecting medicinal plants was also obtained. The salience of the ethnospecies was calculated. G-tests were used to test for differences in ethnospecies richness among collection sites and the Kruskal-Wallis test to identify differences in the use values of plants depending on habit and lignifications (e.g. plants were classes as woody or non-woody, the first group comprising trees, shrubs, and lignified climbers (vines) and the latter group comprising herbs and non-lignified climbers). Spearman’s correlation test was performed to relate salience to use value and these two factors with the commercial value of the plants.
A total of 222 medicinal plants were cited. Herbaceous and woody plants exhibited the highest ethnospecies richness, the non-woody and herbaceous plants had the most practical value (current use), and anthropogenic areas were the main sources of woody and non-woody medicinal plants; herbs and trees were equally versatile in treating diseases and did not differ with regard to use value. Trees were highlighted as the most commercially important growth habit.
From the perspective of its biochemical fundamentals, the apparency hypothesis does not have predictive potential to explain the use value and commercial value of medicinal plants. In other hand, the herbaceous habit showed the highest ethnospecies richness in the community pharmacopeia, which is an expected prediction, corroborating the apparency hypothesis.
Bapedi traditional healers play a vital role in the primary health care of rural inhabitants in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. However, literature profiling their social and demographic variables, as well as their traditional healing practices is lacking.
Convenience sampling were used to identify and select two traditional healers from 17 municipalities (resulting in 34 healers being used in this pilot survey) of the Limpopo Province in South Africa. Information on the social and demographic variables, and traditional healing practices of these healers was gathered from January 2013 to July 2013, using a semi-structured questionnaire, supplemented by field surveys for plant identification and collection used in the preparation of remedies.
Males constituted nearly two-thirds of the participants. Forty eight percent of them became healers through the mentoring of another healer, while 38% acquired their traditional healing knowledge from parents and 14% from grandparents. In contrast to this, 62% of the females obtained theirs from their parents, 30% from fellow traditional healers, and 8% from grandparents. A total of 154 plant species were indicated as used by healers in the treatment of 52 health-related problems. A vast majority (89%) of these practitioners reported that prepared herbal remedies do expire, which is a temperature-dependent process. Determinations of the efficacy of remedies by most healers (67%) were via consultation with ancestors (90%). This study also found that none of the interviewees had any knowledge of provincial or national environmental legislation.
The current study has shown that Bapedi traditional healers could play a leading role in both the preservation of indigenous knowledge and the primary health care sector. However, of concern is the traditional methods (via consulting ancestors) employed by most of these healers in determining efficacy of remedies, thus indicating a need for a scientific investigations to establish their safety and effectiveness. Equally, there is a need to educate traditional practitioners’ regarding the significance of various conservation legislations in their traditional healing. By addressing these, the national and provincial legislators, medical fraternity as well as environmental agencies will be able to better integrate them in primary health care systems and environmental management.
Bapedi; Limpopo Province; Profile; Plant use; Traditional healers
We can conserve cultural heritage and gain extensive knowledge of plant species with pharmacological potential to cure simple to life-threatening diseases by studying the use of plants in indigenous communities. Therefore, it is important to conduct ethnobotanical studies in indigenous communities and to validate the reported uses of plants by comparing ethnobotanical studies with phytochemical and pharmacological studies.
Materials and methods
This study was conducted in a Tamang community dwelling in the Makawanpur district of central Nepal. We used semi-structured and structured questionnaires during interviews to collect information. We compared use reports with available phytochemical and pharmacological studies for validation.
A total of 161 plant species belonging to 86 families and 144 genera to cure 89 human ailments were documented. Although 68 plant species were cited as medicinal in previous studies, 55 different uses described by the Tamang people were not found in any of the compared studies. Traditional uses for 60 plant species were consistent with pharmacological and phytochemical studies.
The Tamang people in Makawanpur are rich in ethnopharmacological understanding. The present study highlights important medicinal plant species by validating their traditional uses. Different plant species can improve local economies through proper harvesting, adequate management and development of modern techniques to maximize their use.
Makawanpur district; Medicinal plants; Pharmacology; Phytochemistry; Tamang community
Homegardens are ecologically and culturally important systems for cultivating medicinal plants for wellbeing by healers and farmers in Naxi communities of the Sino Himalayan region. The cultivation of medicinal plants in Naxi communities and associated ethnomedical knowledge base for maintaining and utilizing these resources is at risk with expanded commercialization of natural resources, development policies and rapid socio-economic change in China. Research is needed to understand the medicinal plant species maintained in Naxi homegardens, their use and contribution to community wellbeing, and how these practices and knowledge base varies between Naxi healers and farmers in order to develop plans for biodiversity conservation and preservation of ethnomedical practices. The main objective of this study is to document and compare medicinal plant species in Naxi homegardens and associated ethnomedical knowledge between Naxi healers and farmers.
Ethnobotanical homegarden surveys were conducted with three Naxi healers and 28 farmer households in two Naxi communities in Lijiang Prefecture in Northwest Yunnan Province of China. Surveys included inventories of medicinal plants in homegardens and semi-structured interviews with homegarden managers to document traditional medicinal uses of inventoried plants. Inventoried plants were classified into 13 ‘usage categories’ of medical condition groupings that impact a system of the body. Finally, plant species richness was calculated for each homegarden and species richness was compared between healers and farmers as well as between study sites using a Least Square Means Tukey HSD function.
Ethnobotanical surveys at the study sites found that 13% of households rely exclusively on traditional Naxi medicine, 26% exclusively use Western medicine and 61% use a combination of traditional Naxi and Western medicine. A total of 106 medicinal plants were inventoried in Naxi homegardens representing 50 botanical families. Over 85% of inventoried medicinal plants were herbaceous. The most represented families were Asteraceae (12.8%), Ranunculaceae (8.3%), Apiaceae (8.3%), and Polygonaceae (7.3%). The primary medical functions of inventoried plants were to treat inflammation (73 species), circulatory system disorders (62), nervous system disorders (41), detoxification (39), digestive system disorders (33), muscular-skeletal system disorders (26), genitourinary system disorders (26), skin conditions (23), respiratory systems disorders (22), and cold and flu (20). Local herbal experts maintained greater medicinal plant species richness in their homegardens compared to local farmers as well as had greater knowledge of medicinal functions of plants. Healers maintained medicinal plants primarily for healing while farmer households maintained approximately 90% of the medicinal plants in their homegardens for commercialization and the remaining for household healthcare.
This study highlights the importance of biodiversity and traditional ecological and medical knowledge for human wellbeing and livelihoods in Naxi communities. Conservation efforts and policies are necessary to preserve the ecological and cultural base that maintains medicinal plant use by both healers and farmers in Naxi homegardens of the Sino Himalayan region.
Homegardens; Medicinal plants; Naxi; Ethnomedicine; Healers
Local ecological knowledge (LEK) has been discussed in terms of its similarities to and its potential to complement normative scientific knowledge. In this study, we compared the knowledge of a Brazilian quilombola population regarding the habitat use and life habits of large mammals with in situ recordings of the species. We also tested the hypothesis that quilombola LEK has a special focus on the anthropogenic portion of the landscape.
The habitats investigated were anthropogenic secondary forests and mature forests in the southeastern Atlantic coast of Brazil. We conducted the faunal survey using the camera-trap method. The sampling effort consisted of deploying 1,217 cameras/day in the mature forests and 1,189 cameras/day in the secondary forests. Statistical comparisons regarding the habitat use of the species were based on the randomization procedure. We interviewed 36 men who were more than 40 years old in the three communities studied. Informal, semi-structured and structured interviews were used. Two variables were considered in the LEK analyses: level of internal agreement and level of convergence with the scientific data.
The camera trap sampling resulted in a total of 981 records. Animals such as opossums, tayras, armadillos and deer showed a non-selective pattern in the use of habitats. In contrast, the coati was more common in mature forests. We found that nearly 40% of the interviewees’ responses converged with the scientific data on the use of habitats. However, the LEK on the species’ life habits was highly convergent with the scientific data. The hypothesis that secondary forests would have a greater relevance for local knowledge was validated for four of the five analyzed species.
We suggest two principal considerations of ecological and ethnoecological interest: (1) In the Atlantic Forest of the Ribeira Valley, the secondary forests resulting from shifting cultivation were as attractive to the species as the mature forests; (2) The LEK has a special focus on the more anthropogenic portion of the landscape studied. Finally, we argue that this environmental focus in LEK is part of what makes it different from scientific knowledge and unique in its approach toward local environments.
Ethnoecology; Local ecological knowledge; Quilombola populations; Shifting cultivation; Medium and large-bodied mammals; Camera trap; Secondary forest; Brazilian atlantic forest
Investigations into knowledge about food and medicinal plants in a certain geographic area or within a specific group are an important element of ethnobotanical research. This knowledge is context specific and dynamic due to changing ecological, social and economic circumstances. Migration processes affect food habits and the knowledge and use of medicinal plants as a result of adaptations that have to be made to new surroundings and changing environments. This study analyses and compares the different dynamics in the transmission of knowledge about food and medicinal plants among Tyrolean migrants in Australia, Brazil and Peru.
A social network approach was used to collect data on personal networks of knowledge about food and medicinal plants among Tyroleans who have migrated to Australia, Brazil and Peru and their descendants. A statistical analysis of the personal network maps and a qualitative analysis of the narratives were combined to provide insight into the process of transmitting knowledge about food and medicinal plants.
56 personal networks were identified in all (food: 30; medicinal plants: 26) across all the field sites studied here. In both sets of networks, the main source of knowledge is individual people (food: 71%; medicinal plants: 68%). The other sources mentioned are print and audiovisual media, organisations and institutions. Personal networks of food knowledge are larger than personal networks of medicinal plant knowledge in all areas of investigation. Relatives play a major role as transmitters of knowledge in both domains.
Human sources, especially relatives, play an important role in knowledge transmission in both domains. Reference was made to other sources as well, such as books, television, the internet, schools and restaurants. By taking a personal network approach, this study reveals the mode of transmission of knowledge about food and medicinal plants within a migrational context.
Social network analysis; Personal networks; Knowledge transmission; Food knowledge; Medicinal plant knowledge; Migration; Knowledge traditions
Ethnoveterinary knowledge is highly significant for persistence of traditional community-based approaches to veterinary care. This is of particular importance in the context of developing and emerging countries, where animal health (that of livestock, especially) is crucial to local economies and food security. The current survey documents the traditional veterinary uses of medicinal plants in the Lesser Himalayas-Pakistan.
Data were collected through interviews, focus groups, participant observation, and by administering questionnaires. A total of 105 informants aged between 20–75 years old who were familiar with livestock health issues (i.e. farmers, shepherds, housewives and herbalists) participated in the study.
A total of 89 botanical taxa, belonging to 46 families, were reported to have ethnoveterinary applications. The most quoted families were Poaceae (6 taxa), Fabaceae (6), Asteraceae (5), and Polygonaceae (5). Adhatoda vasica was the most cited species (43%), followed by Trachyspermum ammi (37%), and Zanthoxylum armatum var. armatum (36%). About 126 medications were recorded against more than 50 veterinary conditions grouped into seven categories. The highest cultural index values were recorded for Trachyspermum ammi, Curcuma longa, Melia azedarach, Zanthoxylum armatum var. armatum and Adhatoda vasica. The highest informant consensus factor was found for pathologies related to respiratory and reproductive disorders. Comparison with the local plant-based remedies used in human folk medicine revealed that many of remedies were used in similar ways in local human phytotherapy. Comparison with other field surveys conducted in surrounding areas demonstrated that approximately one-half of the recorded plants uses are novel to the ethnoveterinary literature of the Himalayas.
The current survey shows a remarkable resilience of ethnoveterinary botanical knowledge in the study area. Most of the species reported for ethnoveterinary applications are wild and under threat. Thus, not only is it imperative to conserve traditional local knowledge of folk veterinary therapies for bio-cultural conservation motives, but also to assist with in-situ and ex-situ environmental conservation initiatives, which are urgently needed. Future studies that focus on the validation of efficacy of these ethnoveterinary remedies can help to substantiate emic concepts regarding the management of animal health care and for rural development programs.
Medicinal plants; Ethnobotany; Ethnoveterinary; Lesser Himalayas; Pakistan
Liáng chá (“cooling tea”, “herbal tea” or “cool tisane” in Chinese) are herbal drinks widely produced in southern China and consumed by billions of people worldwide to prevent and treat internal heat as well as a range of associated health conditions. Globalization and renewed interest in botanical remedies has attracted growing attention in cooling herbal drinks by industry, scientists and consumers. However, there is a knowledge gap on the plant species used and commercialized for cooling herbal drinks in southern China and their associated ethnobotanical use, habitat and conservation status. This is the first study to document plant species used and commercialized as liáng chá in southern China’s Lingnan region and associated ethnomedical function, preparation methods, habitat and conservation status.
Three hundred market surveys were conducted between 2010-2012 in the largest herbal drink producing region of China to record plants used for liáng chá and to document knowledge on their medicinal function, habitat and conservation status. Product samples and voucher specimens were collected for taxonomic identification.
All informants harvest and cultivate plants for preparing herbal drinks for their medicinal, cultural and economic values. A total of 222 ethnotaxa corresponded to 238 botanical taxa (species, varieties or subspecies) belonging to 86 families and 209 genera were recorded as liáng chá to treat health conditions in the study area. Recorded remedies consisted of one or several plant species to treat conditions classified into 27 major health conditions with clearing internal heat being the most common medicinal function. The habitat types of plants documented for use as liáng chá include 112 wild harvested species, 51 species that are either wild harvested or cultivated, 57 cultivated species, and 2 naturalized species. According to China’s Red List and CITES on conservation status, one of these species is endangered, one species is critically endangered, eight species are vulnerable, one is listed in CITES II, three are listed in Regional Red Data Book and the remaining 224 species are in the least concerned conservation category.
The liáng chá industry of southern China reflects the plant species richness and cultural diversity of the region. Future research on safety and efficacy of herbal drinks as well as ecological and cultural conservation efforts are needed for the sustainable growth of China’s botanical industry.
liáng chá; Cooling tea; Ethnomedicine; Botanical industry
Common sense [CS], especially that of the non-scientist, can have predictive power to identify promising research avenues, as humans anywhere on Earth have always looked for causal links to understand, shape and control the world around them. CS is based on the experience of many individuals and is thus believed to hold some truths. Outcomes predicted by CS are compatible with observations made by whole populations and have survived tests conducted by a plethora of non-scientists. To explore our claim, we provide 4 examples of empirical insights (relevant to probably all ethnic groups on Earth) into causal phenomena predicted by CS: (i) “humans must have a sense of time”, (ii) “at extreme latitudes, more people have the winter blues”, (iii) “sleep is a cure for many ills” and (iv) “social networks affect health and disease”. While CS is fallible, it should not be ignored by science – however improbable or self-evident the causal relationships predicted by CS may appear to be.
The shifting baseline syndrome is a concept from ecology that can be analyzed in the context of ethnobotanical research. Evidence of shifting baseline syndrome can be found in studies dealing with intracultural variation of knowledge, when knowledge from different generations is compared and combined with information about changes in the environment and/or natural resources.
We reviewed 84 studies published between 1993 and 2012 that made comparisons of ethnobotanical knowledge according to different age classes. After analyzing these studies for evidence of the shifting baseline syndrome (lower knowledge levels in younger generations and mention of declining abundance of local natural resources), we searched within these studies for the use of the expressions “cultural erosion”, “loss of knowledge”, or “acculturation”.
The studies focused on different groups of plants (e.g. medicinal plants, foods, plants used for general purposes, or the uses of specific important species). More than half of all 84 studies (57%) mentioned a concern towards cultural erosion or knowledge loss; 54% of the studies showed evidence of the shifting baseline syndrome; and 37% of the studies did not provide any evidence of shifting baselines (intergenerational knowledge differences but no information available about the abundance of natural resources).
Discussion and conclusions
The general perception of knowledge loss among young people when comparing ethnobotanical repertoires among different age groups should be analyzed with caution. Changes in the landscape or in the abundance of plant resources may be associated with changes in ethnobotanical repertoires held by people of different age groups. Also, the relationship between the availability of resources and current plant use practices rely on a complexity of factors. Fluctuations in these variables can cause changes in the reference (baseline) of different generations and consequently be responsible for differences in intergenerational knowledge. Unraveling the complexity of changes in local knowledge systems in relation to environmental changes will allow the identification of more meaningful information for resource conservation.
Traditional ecological knowledge; Ethnoecology; Intra-cultural variation; Environmental perception
Selection criteria are important for analyzing domestication of perennial plant species, which experience a selection pressure throughout several human generations. We analyze the preferred morphological characteristics of Crescentia cujete fruits, which are used as bowls by the Maya of Yucatan, according to the uses they are given and the phenotypic consequences of artificial selection between one wild and three domesticated varieties.
We performed 40 semi-structured interviews in seven communities. We calculated Sutrop’s salience index (S) of five classes of ceremonial and daily life uses, and of each item from the two most salient classes. We sampled 238 bowls at homes of people interviewed and compared their shape, volume and thickness with 139 fruits collected in homegardens and 179 from the wild. Morphology of varieties was assessed in fruit (n = 114 trees) and vegetative characters (n = 136 trees). Differences between varieties were evaluated through linear discriminant analysis (LDA).
Use of bowls as containers for the Day of the Dead offerings was the most salient class (S = 0.489) with chocolate as its most salient beverage (S = 0.491), followed by consumption of daily beverages (S = 0.423), especially maize-based pozol (S = 0.412). The sacred saka’ and balche' are offered in different sized bowls during agricultural and domestic rituals. Roundness was the most relevant character for these uses, as bowls from households showed a strong selection towards round shapes compared with wild and homegarden fruits. Larger fruits from domesticated varieties were also preferred over small wild fruits, although in the household different sizes of the domesticated varieties are useful. LDA separated wild from domesticated trees (p < 0.001) according to both fruit and vegetative variables, but domesticated varieties were not different among themselves.
The association between C. cujete bowls and traditional beverages in ritual and daily life situations has driven for centuries the selection of preferred fruit morphology in this tree. Selection of fruit roundness and volume has allowed for the differentiation between the wild variety and the three domesticated ones, counteracting gene flow among them. By choosing the best fruits from domesticated varieties propagated in homegardens, the Maya people model the domestication process of this important tree in their culture.
Calabash; Crescentia; Domestication; Gourd tree; Maya; Mesoamerica; Morphology; Phenotypic variation
The Tehuacán Valley is one of the areas of Mesoamerica with the oldest history of plant management. Homegardens are among the most ancient management systems that currently provide economic benefits to people and are reservoirs of native biodiversity. Previous studies estimated that 30% of the plant richness of homegardens of the region are native plant species from wild populations. We studied in Náhuatl communities the proportion of native plant species maintained in homegardens, hypothesizing to find a proportion similar to that estimated at regional level, mainly plant resources maintained for edible, medicinal and ornamental purposes.
We analysed the composition of plant species of homegardens and their similarity with surrounding Cloud Forest (CF), Tropical Rainforest (TRF), Tropical Dry forest (TDF), and Thorn-Scrub Forest (TSF). We determined density, frequency and biomass of plant species composing homegardens and forests through vegetation sampling of a total of 30 homegardens and nine plots of forests, and documented ethnobotanical information on use, management, and economic benefits from plants maintained in homegardens.
A total of 281 plant species was recorded with 12 use categories, 115 ornamental, 92 edible, and 50 medicinal plant species. We recorded 49.8 ± 23.2 (average ± S.D.) woody plant species (shrubs and trees) per homegarden. In total, 34% species are native to the Tehuacán Valley and nearly 16% are components of the surrounding forests. A total of 176 species were cultivated through seeds, vegetative propagules or transplanted entire individual plants, 71 tolerated, and 23 enhanced. The highest species richness and diversity were recorded in homegardens from the CF zone (199 species), followed by those from the TRF (157) and those from the TDF (141) zones.
Homegardens provide a high diversity of resources for subsistence of local households and significantly contribute to conservation of native biodiversity. The highest diversity was recorded in homegardens where the neighbouring forests had the least diversity, suggesting that management of homegardens aims at compensating scarcity of naturally available plant resources. Cultivated species were markedly more abundant than plants under other management forms. Diversity harboured and management techniques make homegardens keystones in strategies for regional biodiversity conservation.
Biodiversity conservation; Domestication; Homegardens; Náhuatl people; Plant management; Sustainable use; Tehuacán Valley
The country of Madagascar is renowned for its high level of biodiversity and endemism, as well as the overwhelming pressures and threats placed on the natural resources by a growing population and climate change. Traditional medicine plays an important role in the daily lives of the Malagasy for various reasons including limited access to healthcare, limited markets and traditional values. The objective of this study was to assess the modern utitilization of the Agnalazaha Forest by the local population in Mahabo-Mananivo, Madagascar, for medicinal plants used by women, and to establish a list of medicinal plants used by women sourced from Agnalazaha Forest.
Ethnobotanical studies were conducted over a period of five months in 2010 to determine the diversity of medicinal plants used by women in the commune of Mahabo-Mananivo. In all, 498 people were interviewed, both male and female ranging age from 15 to over 60 years old.
152 medicinal plants used by local people were collected during the ethnobotanical studies. Among the recorded species, eight native species are widely used by women. These species are known for their therapeutic properties in treating placental apposition and complications during childbirth as well as tropical illnesses such as malaria, filariasis, and sexual diseases like gonorrhea and syphilis.
Littoral forests are rare ecosystems that are highly threatened on the island nation of Madagascar. Our investigation into the use of medicinal plants sourced from and around the Agnalazaha Forest by the women of Mahabo-Mananivo reinforces the need for this natural resource as a first line of health care for rural families.
Medicinal plants; Madagascar; Littoral forest; Traditional medicine; Women’s traditional knowledge
We test whether traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) about how to make an item predicts a person’s skill at making it among the Tsimane’ (Bolivia). The rationale for this research is that the failure to distinguish between knowledge and skill might account for some of the conflicting results about the relationships between TEK, human health, and economic development.
We test the association between a commonly-used measure of individual knowledge (cultural consensus analysis) about how to make an arrow or a bag and a measure of individual skill at making these items, using ordinary least-squares regression. The study consists of 43 participants from 3 villages.
We find no association between our measures of knowledge and skill (core model, p > 0.5, R
While we cannot rule out the possibility of a real association between these phenomena, we interpret our findings as support for the claim that researchers should distinguish between methods to measure knowledge and skill when studying trends in TEK.
Plants have widely been used and documented for their therapeutic potential in many parts of the world. There are, however, few reports on the use of plants for the treatment of diseases of equines. To this end, participatory epidemiology and rapid rural appraisal techniques were used to document the plants having pharmacotherapeutic significance against different ailments of equines in selected population of Punjab, Pakistan.
A survey was conducted to interview a total of 450 respondents (150 from each of the districts of Faisalabad, Lahore and Sargodha of Pakistan) to collect information about disease recognition of the equines and their treatment on a well − structured questionnaire. A total of 60 plants belonging to 40 families were documented. An inventory was developed depicting detailed information of plants used in treatment of different conditions of equines.
The top ten species of plants used were: Allium cepa, Zingiber officinale, Vernonia anthelmintica, Capsicum annum, Brassica campestris, Trachyspermum ammi, Anethum graveolens, Picrorhiza kurroa, Azadirachta indica, and Citrullus colocynthis. Seeds were the most frequently used (n = 16/60) parts, followed by leaves (n = 12/60) and fruits (n = 11/60) of plants. Based on the combination of different parts of plants used in different ratios and variation in their dose or mode of preparation led to a large number of recipes/remedies against wounds, lameness, bronchitis, colic, anorexia, dermatitis, weakness, parasitism (internal & external), fever, heat stress, urine retention, swelling, toxemia, and indigestion.
This study generated lot of data on phytomedicinal approach for the treatment of ailments in the equines in some selected areas. It would, therefore, be imperative to expand similar studies in other parts of Pakistan and elsewhere. Moreover, use of the documented plants may be validated employing standard scientific procedures, which may have their application in the drug discovery/development by the pharmaceutical industry.
Phytotherapy; Plants; Equines; Indigenous; Ethnobotanicals; Punjab; Pakistan
This essay, which is the third in the series “Recollections, Reflections, and Revelations: Ethnobiologists and their First Time in the Field”, is a personal reflection by the researcher on his experience and involvement in kinship and friendship networks while conducting agrobiodiversity research in southern Appalachia, USA. Vignettes are given from moving moments spent with Native spiritual leaders, backcountry mountain people, and local co-collaborators in the research process. The author demonstrates how lasting field friendships have helped lead to groundbreaking ethnoecological research.
Agrobiodiversity; Appalachia; Cherokee; Ethnoecology; Ethnography
This paper reports an ethnobotanical study that focused on the traditional medicinal plants used by local communities to treat human and livestock ailments. A cross-sectional study was undertaken from September 2009 to June 2010 in Wayu Tuka District of Oromia Region, Ethiopia. The aim of the study is to document medicinal plants used by local people of the study area and the threats currently affecting medicinal plants.
Ethnobotanical data were collected using semi-structured interviews, field observations and group discussion in which 63 (41 men & 22 women) randomly selected informants participated. Of which, 11 (10 male and 1 female) were local healers. Paired comparison method, direct matrix ranking and Informant consensus factors (ICF) were used to analyze the importance of some plant species.
A total of 126 medicinal plant species, distributed in 108 genera and 56 families, were collected together with their medicinal uses. Of the 126 species of medicinal plants collected from the study area, eighty six (68%) were obtained from the wild whereas thirty three (26%) were from homegardens. The Fabaceae came out as a leading family with 15 medicinal species while the Solanaceae followed with eight species. Seventy eight (62%) of the medicinal plants were reported as being used for treating human ailments, 23 (18.2%) for the treatment of livestock ailments and 25 (20%) for both. The most frequently used plant parts were leaves (43%), followed by roots (18.5%) while crushing, which accounted for (29%) and powdering (28%) were the widely used methods of preparation of traditional herbal medicines.
The number of reported medicinal plants and their uses by the local people of the District indicate the depth of the local indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants and their application. The documented medicinal plants can serve as a basis for future investigation of modern drug.
Despite the widespread use of medicinal plants in Mali, knowledge about how traditional practitioners (TPs) treat pregnant and lactating women is lacking.
Aim of the study
The aim of this study was to investigate how traditional practitioners in Mali treat common diseases and ailments during pregnancy.
Data was collected through structured interviews of traditional practitioners in one urban (Bamako) and two rural areas (Siby and Dioila) in Mali. The TPs were interviewed about how they treat common diseases and ailments during pregnancy. They were also asked to name harmful plants in pregnancy and plants that could affect breast milk production. In addition, we asked about nine specific medicinal plants commonly used in Mali; Opilia amentacea (syn. Opilia celtidifolia), Ximenia americana, Cola cordifolia, Combretum glutinosum, Parkia biglobosa, Trichilia emetica, Combretum micranthum, Lippia chevalieri and Vepris heterophylla.
A total of 72 traditional practitioners (64% women, age: 34 to 90 years) were interviewed during an eight week period October 2011 to December 2011. They treated between 1 and 30 pregnant women with medicinal plants per months. We found a relatively high consensus for treatment of pregnant women with common diseases and ailments like nausea and dermatitis. The highest informer consensus was found for the treatment of malaria during pregnancy. TPs generally recommended pregnant women to avoid medicinal plants with bitter tastes like stem and root bark of Khaya senegalensis and Opilia amentacea (syn. Opilia celtidifolia). TPs distinguished between oral (potentially unsafe) and dermal use (safe) of Opilia amentacea (syn. Opilia celtidifolia). Cola cordifolia was used to facilitate labor.
Experience and knowledge about treatment of pregnant women with medicinal plants was broad among the traditional practitioners in the three investigated regions in Mali. Collaborating with traditional practitioners on the safe use of medicinal plants in pregnancy may promote safer pregnancies and better health for mothers and their unborn infants in Mali.
Traditional medicine; Pregnancy; Breast feeding; Mali; Traditional practitioner
The association among food and health is momentous as consumers now demand healthy, tasty and natural functional foods. Knowledge of such food is mainly transmitted through the contribution of individuals of households. Throughout the world the traditions of using wild edible plants as food and medicine are at risk of disappearing, hence present appraisal was conducted to explore ethnomedicinal and cultural importance of wild edible vegetables used by the populace of Lesser Himalayas-Pakistan.
Data was collected through informed consent semi-structured interviews, questionnaires, market survey and focus group conversation with key respondents of the study sites including 45 female, 30 children and 25 males. Cultural significance of each species was calculated based on use report.
A total of 45 wild edible vegetables belonging to 38 genera and 24 families were used for the treatment of various diseases and consumed. Asteraceae and Papilionoideae were found dominating families with (6 spp. each), followed by Amaranthaceae and Polygonaceae. Vegetables were cooked in water (51%) followed by diluted milk (42%) and both in water and diluted milk (7%). Leaves were among highly utilized plant parts (70%) in medicines followed by seeds (10%), roots (6%), latex (4%), bark, bulb, flowers, tubers and rhizomes (2% each). Modes of preparation fall into seven categories like paste (29%), decoction (24%), powder (14%), eaten fresh (12%), extract (10%), cooked vegetable (8%) and juice (4%). Ficus carica was found most cited species with in top ten vegetables followed by Ficus palmata, Bauhinia variegata, Solanum nigrum, Amaranthus viridis, Medicago polymorpha, Chenopodium album, Cichorium intybus, Amaranthus hybridus and Vicia faba.
Patterns of wild edible plant usage depend mainly on socio-economic factors compare to climatic conditions or wealth of flora but during past few decades have harshly eroded due to change in the life style of the inhabitants. Use reports verified common cultural heritage and cultural worth of quoted taxa is analogous. Phytochemical analysis, antioxidant activities, pharmacological applications; skill training in farming and biotechnological techniques to improve the yield are important feature prospective regarding of wild edible vegetables.
Ethno-medicinal; Cultural values; Wild edible vegetables; Lesser Himalayas
The Ethiopian people have been dependent on traditional medicine, mainly medicinal plants, from time immemorial for control of human and animal health problems, and they still remain to be largely dependent on the practice. The purpose of the current study was to conduct ethnobotanical study to document medicinal plants used to treat diseases of human and domestic animals in Kilte Awulaelo District in the Tigray Region of Ethiopia.
Ethnobotanical data were collected between July and September 2011 through semi-structured interviews, ranking exercises and field observations. For the interviews, 72 knowledgeable informants were sampled using purposive sampling method. For the different ranking exercises, key informants were identified with the help of elders and local administrators from informants that were already involved in the interviews.
The study revealed 114 medicinal plant species belonging to 100 genera and 53 families. The plants were used to treat 47 human and 19 livestock diseases. Of the species, the majority (74%) were obtained from the wild. Herbs were the most utilized plants, accounting for 44% of the species, followed by shrubs (29%). Leaf was the most commonly used plant part accounting for 42.98% of the plants, followed by roots (25.73%). Preference ranking exercise on selected plants used against abdominal pain indicated the highest preference of people for Solanum marginatum. Direct matrix ranking showed Cordia africana as the most preferred multipurpose plant in the community. Preference ranking of selected scarce medicinal plants indicated Myrica salicifolia as the most scarce species, followed by Boscia salicifolia and Acokanthera schimperi. According to priority ranking, drought was identified as the most destructive factor of medicinal plants, followed by overgrazing and firewood collection.
Medicinal plants are still playing significant role in the management of various human and livestock diseases in the study area with herbs taking the lead in the number of plants used in the preparation of remedies, which may be an indication of their relatively better abundance as compared to other life forms. Recurrent drought was reported to have seriously threatened medicinal plant resources in the District. Awareness is thus needed be raised among local people on sustainable utilization and management of plant resources. Ex situ and in situ conservation measures should be taken to protect the medicinal plants of the District from further destruction and special attention should be given to the medicinal plants that were indicated by preference ranking exercise as the most threatened ones.
Ethnobotany; Medicinal plants; Kilte Awulaelo District; Eastern Tigray; Ethiopia