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.
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    The Role of Wild and Semi-wild Edible Plants to Household Food Sovereignty in Hamar and Konso Communities, South Ethiopia
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Addis, Getachew ; Asfaw, Zemede ; Woldu, Zerihun
    Population based survey was conducted to investigate incidence of food shortage and coping mechanisms; knowledge, attitude and practice on consumption, conservation and management of wild and semi-wild edible plant species (WEPS) by Hamar and Konso communities of Ethiopia. The research used different ethnobotanical data collection methods and statistical tools. Irrespective of their social and economic strata, all study participants reported consumption of WEPS with increasing frequency, quantity and number of species consumed during food scarcity. More WEPS with lower sensory acceptability, poor cooking quality, and inflicting some kind of health problems were consumed during famine. Leptadenia hastata was the most preferred WEPS sought after during food deficiency by both communities. Ninety three WEPS are managed by both communities mainly in the vicinity of human settlements and farmlands. The Konso community demonstrated long established cultural practices of conserving, managing and using WEPS. Planning on promotion, sustainable use and conservation of WEPS must take note of the knowledge and practices of local communities on account of the key roles they would play in food security-sovereignty initiatives. 
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    Contributions of Clarence Y.C. Wong and Current Updates on the Flora of Romonum Island, Chuuk Lagoon, Federated States of Micronesia
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Manner, Harley Ichiro
    Recent field work on Romonum (Ulalu) Island, a small volcanic island in Chuuk Lagoon, Federated States of Micronesia, found 45 new accounts of vascular plants. Fosberg, Sachet and Oliver’s (1979, 1982, 1987) geographical checklists listed only 30 species for the island, although in 1965, Stone (1967) found 124 species of vascular plants there. This study acknowledges the work of Clarence Y. C. Wong, who in 1947 collected 142 species of vascular plants and discusses the botanic history of Romonum Island.  For unexplained reasons, his work has been largely ignored.  Much remains to be discovered in defining the biotic diversity of the Pacific Islands.  Finally, this study suggests that digital images may be a very appropriate tool for documenting the diversity of the islands.
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    Ethnobotanical Studies of the Tarai Region of Kumaun, Uttarakhand, India
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Mathur, Anjali ; Joshi, Hema
    An ethnobotanical study was conducted during 2008–2010 in the central tarai region of Kumaun (also known as Kumaon) Himalaya in Northern India to highlight the uses of the diverse flora. The study sites included Lalkuan in Nainital district and Kichha Tehsil (covering Pantnagar) of district Udham Singh Nagar, as these occupy the major part of central tarai and have undergone massive development and settlement of people of diverse culture. The entire study area consisted of three sites and eight communities. Interviews were conducted with knowledgeable persons in the study area. A total of 206 angiosperm species recorded in this study were found to be used for medicinal, economic (aromatic, timber, spices, fuel, condiments, cosmetics, etc.), fodder, firewood, timber, food, spiritual, or some other purpose. The information was collected both from migrant and local people.
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    Medicinal Plants Used Against Typhoid Fever in Bamboutos Division, Western Cameroon
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Tsobou, Roger ; Mapongmetsem, Pierre-Marie ; Van Damme, Patrick
    Typhoid fever is a serious infectious disease that has been a public health concern for millennia. An impressive number of plant species are traditionally used in the management of typhoid fever in the Bamboutos Division of the West Region of Cameroon. In the present ethnobotanical survey an attempt has been made to document the different medicinal plants used traditionally by traditional healers and elders to treat typhoid fever. Ethnobotanical interviews on medicinal plants used to treat typhoid fever were conducted with traditional healers and elderly persons using open-ended semi-structured questionnaires. Field trips were made to the sites where they harvest plants, and specimens were collected and identified. A total of 59 medicinal plant species belonging to 56 genera and 33 families were recorded during the study. The most commonly used plant families recorded were Asteraceae (17%); Fabaceae (7%); and Bignoniaceae, Malvaceae, and Moraceae (5.0% each). The most frequently utilized medicinal plant parts were leaves (48.6%), followed by bark (28.9%), stem (7.8%), whole plant (6.5%), roots (5.2%), and fruits (2.6%). while shrubs (35,5%) were the primary source of medicine, followed by herbs (32.2%) and trees (30.5%). Most of the medicinal plant species (40.6%) were harvested from the wild compared to 38.9% from cultivated land and 20.3% semi-cultivated. Decoction was the most common method of traditional drug preparation. Oral administration was the only mode of dispensing of herbal medicine. Most of the plants were used in combination to increase effectiveness in the treatment of the disease. Knowledge of the use of plants as medicines remains mostly with traditional healers and older generation who are illiterate. It is recommended that research institutes and university researchers carry out research on these species so as to conserve and improve their genetic constitutions. Also, attempts must be made to encourage the documentation of plants, so that they can be readily accessible to a larger number of populace.
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    Study on Uses and Trading of Huperzia squarrosa (G. Forst.) Trev. (Lycopodiaceae) in Manipur, India
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2013) Yumkham, Sanatombi Devi ; Singh, Potsangbam Kumar
    Huperzia squarrosa (G. Forst.) Trevis. (Lycopodiaceae), locally known as leishang in Manipur, India, serves as a potential subsistence for livelihood to many people. It is extensively used by three main communities: Meiteis for cultural purposes and Nagas and Kukis for beautification, handicraft, and medicinal purposes. A critical analysis on the trading system showed that womenfolk dominated the entire workflow of activities like harvesting, transportation of plant materials from forests, and even regulating seasonal market prices. Detailed morphological parameters along with the biological life cycle are briefly highlighted. Introduction of conservation plans, training local communities on harvesting methodologies, and formulation of systematic marketing strategies are highly recommended.