2013 - Volume 11 : Ethnobotany Research and Applications

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    Plumerias the Color of Roseate Spoonbills' - Continuity and transition in the symbolism of Plumeria L. in Mesoamerica
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Zumbroich, Thomas Josef
    This study explores the complex symbolism which the genus Plumeria L. engendered from around the beginning of the common era to the present time in Mesoamerica. In much of this cultural area an intense interest in sensory pleasures can be traced to great antiquity, and, consequently, flowers became a central metaphor in the Mesoamerican cosmological discourse. In the Maya pantheon, plumeria was associated with deities representing life force and fertility and therefore plumeria flowers became strongly connected with a wide range of expressions of female sexuality. Among Nahuatl speaking people of central Mexico, especially during the height of the Aztec empire, the most prominent association of plumeria was to signify élite status, with plumeria trees planted in the gardens of the nobility, the blooms exchanged at feasts, or the stylized image of plumeria flowers inscribed on ceramics and codices. This high appreciation for plumerias was also reflected in the number of different varieties that were distinguished by name. Ethnomedical applications, especially of the lactiferous sap of plumeria, show continuity from pre-conquest times to the present. In the context of the hybridized religious systems that developed in response to the introduction of Christianity across Mesoamerica, plumerias developed new meanings, e.g., as elaborate decorations for the worship of the Virgin Mary. When in the sixteenth century plumeria was dispersed beyond the Americas into Southeast Asia, likely through Spanish hands and by way of the Philippines, it gained a wide-spread association with grave yards as a plant promoting contact with the deceased.
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    Local Knowledge of Plants and Their Uses Among Women in the Bale Mountains, Ethiopia
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Luizza, Matthew Wayne ; Young, Heather ; Kuroiwa, Christina ; Evangelista, Paul ; Worede, Aserat ; Bussmann, Rainer ; Weimer, Amber
    Women’s local ecological knowledge (LEK) is noted by many scholars to be unique and important for local conservation and development planning. Although LEK integration is inherent to ethnobotanical research, in Ethiopia, the knowledge-gender link has not been fully explored, and few studies focus on women’s distinct plant knowledge. We catalogued rural women’s knowledge of a wide range of plant uses in south-central Ethiopia, conducted through picture identification of 337 local plants. Fifty-seven plant species were identified, constituting 38 families, with the top five families being Lamiaceae, Solanaceae, Asteraceae, Rosaceae, and Pteridaceae. An array of uses were identified ranging from food, livestock and wildlife forage, to honey production and cosmetics. The most prevalent use noted (nearly 70%) was human medicine. This study reveals the important contribution of rural women’s plant knowledge in the Bale Mountains, and the potential benefits of including this gender-distinct understanding of local flora in community-based conservation planning.
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    Herbal-based Traditional Medicinal Knowledge of Local Inhabitants in Rudraprayag District of Uttarakhand, India
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Chandra, Kailash ; Nautiyal, Bhagwati Prasad ; Nautiyal, Mohan Chandra
    Traditional medicinal knowledge has gained much attention recently due to rejuvenation of faith in traditional system of medicines. The Indian Himalaya is a source of plant based indigenous medicinal knowledge based on local plant diversity. Surveys were conducted in Rudraprayag district of Uttarakhand, India to collect indigenous information on primary health care. 29 formulations using 159 plant species were recorded treating 119 ailments in 13 broad therapeutic classes. Results have been compared with traditional knowledge from other parts of India.
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    Ethnomedical Survey of Herbs for the Management of Malaria in Karnataka, India
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Prakash, Bangalore Nagendrappa ; Payyappallimanaa, Unnukrishnan
    Herbs used by traditional healers for malaria management were documented in the Tumkur district of Karnataka, India. In total, 31 species of plants in 20 families were used. 30% of the herbal remedies contained species in only three plant families; Fabaceae, Piperaceae, and Zingiberaceae. Leaves were the most commonly used plant part (29%). Eight plant species used in the study area, were documented for the first time for their use in the treatment of malaria. Ethnomedical and antiplasmodial activity of documented species was assessed by comparison with published literature.
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    Economic Contribution of Gum and Resin Resources to Household Livelihoods in Selected Regions and the National Economy of Ethiopia
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Mekonnen, Zenebe ; Worku, Adefires ; Yohannes, Temsgen ; Bahru, Tinsae ; Mebratu, Trehas ; Teketay, Demel
    Ethiopia has one of the largest dry forest and woodland resource bases in the Horn of Africa, predominated by diverse Acacia, Boswellia, Commiphora, and Sterculia species, with an estimated annual production potential of over 300,000 tonnes of commercial gums and resins. However, until recently, less than 1% of this potential has been tapped and traded while the resource bases are degrading fast. Shortage of locality-specific case studies typifying the state of gum and resin production and marketing systems and nationwide socio-economic significance of the resources has delayed development of value-added commercialization of the commodities and integrated management of the resource bases. A study aimed at exploring the value chain of traded gums and resins and their contribution to rural livelihood and national economy was conducted in 11 purposively selected localities in five National Regional States within the major gum-belts in Ethiopia. Two major cities, central for product processing and marketing, were also assessed. A questionnaire survey was administered to 135 randomly selected households, and key stakeholder interviews, group discussions, and field observations were carried out following the value chain (from producers to exporters). Results showed that one or more of the seven gums and resins (frankincense, myrrh, opopanax, hagar, gum arabic, gum talha, and gum gumero) were produced and traded at the studied districts. While frankincense marketing dominated the northern part, gum arabic, myrrh, and opopanax are most popular in the south and southeastern part of the country. About 93% of the interviewed households engaged in collecting, marketing, or both activities. Gums and resins contributed up to 14% of the average annual cash income of the households. However, a significant difference (P < 0.001) was found in the amount collected and income generated per household and locality. Strong correlation was observed between cash income from gums and resins and off-farm activities (R = 0.74) and other types of non-timber forest products like honey (R = 0.72, α = 0.01). However, weak correlation was observed between incomes from gums and resins and crop and livestock production. Despite the observed inefficient value chain, the gum and resin resources have considerable contributions to the national economy. For instance, the annual average revenue from three districts in Tigray National Regional State was USD 882,000 in 2010. Between 2002 and 2010, about 2,306 tonnes of different gums and resins were traded and average revenue of USD 3,220,542 was obtained in one district in the same region. At the national level, between 1997 and 2010 about 6,174 tonnes of gum arabic and about 33,865 tonnes of other gums and resins were exported, and more than USD 72 million were generated. Responding to what sort of institutional arrangement governs the value chain and use of gums and resins resources at the present situations, about 41% of the respondents asserted customary and national legal arrangements, while 56% mentioned alternative systems as means of conflict resolution. Key policy and development interventions that could enhance the socio-economic importance of the gum and resin value chain at the local and national levels, while also increasing responsibility and commitment towards long-term management of the resource bases, have been recommended.