2011 - Volume 9 : Ethnobotany Research and Applications

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    Staple food choices in Samoa : Do changing dietary trends reflect local food preferences?
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Jones, Andrew Maxwell Phineas ; Dempewolf, Hannes ; Armstrong, Rebecca ; Gallucci, Kathy ; Tavana, Namulau’ulu Gaugau
    The prevalence of non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity and cardiovascular disease has become a considerable health problem throughout the South Pacific, including Samoa. The increase in these diseases is most often associated with changes in dietary intake; including increased consumption of fats and sugars concurrent with reduced consumption of fibre and complex carbohydrates. We conducted this study in order to better understand food preferences in the Samoan population. The study focuses on the following common staple foods available in Samoa: taro, banana, elephant ear, yam, breadfruit, tapioca, rice, bread, noodles and potatoes. Interviews were conducted with 51 volunteers to better understand what foods they prefer to eat, which items they viewed as healthy choices, and how they categorize and view these foods. Over all, the participants preferred the traditional foods over imported staples. The local foods were preferred because they are considered to be healthier choices and provide a longer lasting source of energy. The preference ranking assigned to the food items correlated with their documented glycemic indexes (GI). Although it appears that Samoans prefer low GI, fiber-rich staple foods, imported refined cereal products provide more calories for the same price which makes them more economical. We recommend that future public health policy in Samoa should focus on the preference for healthier, more sustainable local foods, and aim at making these foods more economically competitive.
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    Bamboo trade and future prospects in the Central Himalaya : A case study of the traditional artisans of Uttarakhand, India
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Sundriyal, Manju ; Sundriyal R.C.
    In India bamboo is valuable in the rural livelihoods. However, despite improvement efforts the conditions of bamboo resources and traditional artisans have been deteriorating over the years. To improvise the socio-economic status of the artisans, different state governments are looking for information on the resource as well as artisans’ skills so that necessary amendments could be accomplished in government policies and programs to develop this sector as an important vehicle for rural development. This article is based on an investigation that was conducted in Uttarakhand state, India using questionnaires. We report on bamboo species being used, indigenous knowledge of articles made from bamboo, resource utilization patterns, and management status of bamboo in Uttarakhand state. The paper also discusses major bottlenecks of the trade along with the potential interventions that could be used to enhance bamboo-based livelihoods in the region.
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    Ethnobotanical studies in the genus Sansevieria Thunb. (Asparagaceae) in Zimbabwe
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Takawira-Nyenya, Ratidzayi ; Stedje, Brita
    A study investigating ethnobotanical uses and ethnotaxonomy of the genus Sansevieria Thunb. (Asparagaceae) in Zimbabwe is presented. Direct observation of plant use by informants, open-ended and informal interviews covering questions on local names of species, uses, mode of administration and the specific plant part used were employed during the study. Ethnobotanical uses for four species; Sansevieria aethiopica Thunb., Sansevieria hyacinthoides (L.) Druce, Sansevieria kirkii Baker and Sansevieria pearsonii N.E.Br. were recorded from 60 informants. A total of 11 use categories were defined; ornamentals, medicinal use in humans, medicinal use in animals, food, play, processed fiber, unprocessed fiber, crafts, making whip ends, spiritual uses and other uses. Medicinal use in humans was the most prevalent category, contributing 33% of the total responses. Several uses of Sansevieria in Zimbabwe not previously documented in the literature are described for the first time in this study.
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    Ethnomedicinal plants of India with special reference to an Indo-Burma hotspot region : An overview
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Rai, Prabhat Kumar ; Lalramnghinglova, H.
    Ethnomedicines are widely used across India. Scientific knowledge of these uses varies with some regions, such as the North Eastern India region, being less well known. Plants being used are increasingly threatened by a variety of pressures and are being categories for conservation management purposes. Mizoram state in North East India has served as the location of our studies of ethnomedicines and their conservation status. 304 plants from 96 families were recorded as being used by the indigenous Mizo (and other tribal communities) over the last ten years. Analysis of distributions of species across plant families revealed both positive and negative correlations that are interpreted as evidence of consistent bases for selection.
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    Ancient Kaua`i Mapping Project : Using GIS to locate and map ancient Hawaiian agricultural landscapes on Kaua`i
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Burton, Erik
    GIS tools are used to develop a predictive model for identify the primary agricultural complexes on Kaua`i and conduct a systematic aerial survey for plants from transported landscapes. Comparisons were made to historical records and place names were matched to elements of the ancient agricultural landscape.  Results are recorded in a series of layers enabling spatial analysis and 3D visualization of the data in its environment. The resulting GIS layers and master model allows custom data views to be created by enabling selected layers so that desired aspects of the agricultural landscape can be visualized. The resulting layers are discussed as individuals and also how they interact to provide a view of the ancient integrated agricultural landscape. Conclusions about the predictive model for agricultural complex, the ethnobotanical surveys and the historical records are discussed.
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    Mango trees as cultural indicators in the Limahuli Valley, Kauai
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Stangeland, Torunn
    This paper describes the development of a new rapid method to age mango (Mangifera indica L.) trees using remote sensing data. The method is based on demonstrating that that crown width (CW) correlates positively with diameter at breast height (dbh). The data generated from this approach were used to assess the relative age of mango plantations in the Limahuli valley, Kaua`i, and to determine if the trees were planted in the latter half of the 1800s - a period of major social disruption on the island. Correlation between dbh and CW shows that these variables are positively correlated (R2 = 0.7014). The freely available Google Earth and GPS Visualizer were used to visualize the position and size of trees. Using high-quality aerial photographs of the island, it may thus be possible to spot and map large mango tree canopies, and thereby provide a starting point to search for sites that were still populated by Hawaiians at the end of the 1800’s. This method, in conjunction with aerial photographs or high-resolution satellite images, may be used to map and age human mango plantations and settlements in other regions, if combined with ground measurements and knowledge about tree growth at the site.
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    Ethnobotany of Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb. (Cupressaceae) in Iran
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Pirani, Atefeh ; Moazzeni, Hamid ; Mirinejad, Shahab ; Naghibi, Farzaneh ; Mosaddegh, Mahmoud
    Ethnobotanical data of Juniperus excelsa M. Bieb. in Iran is documented from various historical, religious, literary, linguistic and pharmacological viewpoints. Field trips were conducted to different habitats of J. excelsa in Iran during 2006-2010 to collect ethnobotanical information about the plant. The present study reveals that J. excelsa is considered as a multi-purpose tree by indigenous people of Iran, and has been used as medicine, incense, material for constructing buildings, fencing, different household articles and decoration. It is respected as a “holy” tree by some Turkmen and Kurdish tribes in Iran.
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    Etnoecología de las especies vegetales de los bosques estacionalmente secos del Estado Mérida
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Aranguren, Anairamiz ; Márquez, Nelson Jhonny
    An ethnological analysis aimed at evaluating traditional knowledge on useful plants in six adjacent locations to seasonally dry forests was proposed. Unstructured interviews and free listings were applied to evaluate quantity, uses and similarities between plants utilized by 49 local residents from El Corozo, El Rincón, El Salado, Quebrada Arriba, San Juan y El Vallecito, State of Mérida, Venezuela. Collected species were identified and a multivariate analysis was applied. As a result, 955 plants were listed, among them cinaro (Calycolpus moritzianus (O. Berg) Burret), cedro (Cedrela montana Moritz ex Turcz.), uvito (Acnistus arborescens (L.) Schltdl.), guayaba (Psidium guajava L.) and anime (Montanoa quadrangularis Sch. Bip.) listed as very important. Twenty-six uses were reported, most often as food, timber, medicine, fences, construction and fuel. There was a broad agreement on the information obtained, associated to each location and forest type, as well as to distant locations. Some species were proposed for reforestation purposes and to reduce pressure use on these forests.
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    Survivor Rongelap : Health issues and use of traditional medicine among the women of Rongelap Atoll
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Releford, Jodi Stevens ; McClatchey, Will C.
    The people of Rongelap atoll have always been survivors. For centuries they survived in one of the most extreme environments in the world by making the most of the resources available to them. Life was further complicated when they were exposed to fallout from nuclear testing by the U.S. Consequently they have suffered horrible medical ailments and exile from their island home. With plans now in the works for repatriation to Rongelap atoll, safety is the first concern. We believe that the risk of consuming traditional plant-based remedies on Rongelap has been underestimated. Women and infants are particularly at risk because they utilize far more traditional remedies than the rest of the community. Some returning Rongelap Islanders may be consuming more than 60 times the number of remedies than was previously thought. We make some suggestions of ways to make the consumption of traditional remedies safe while still maintaining important cultural traditions.
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    Assessing the contribution of local and traded biodiversity in community health care : A case study from Keelakodankulam village, South India
    (Botany Department, University of Hawaii at Manoa, 2011) Mary, D Ahino ; Franco, F Merlin ; Babu, Vivek
    The study aims to assess the contribution of local and traded biodiversity towards community health care. A total of 106 knowledge holders from the Aatha Pallar community were interviewed and medicinal uses for 70 local plants and 28 plant products purchased from the market were recorded. The Pharmacological Ethnobotanical index was found to be low suggesting knowledge erosion. About 13 plant species used by the community show high Use Value Indices. A majority of the plants used in the community’s medicinal system come from the immediate locality and only a minor part comes from the market, though ones from the market tend to have high use value indexes. The study illustrates that local medicinal plant diversity is important for community health care, which in turn, ensures conservation of the local medicinal plant diversity.