Historical Ethnobotany: Interpreting the Old Records 2.0

A special issue of Plants (ISSN 2223-7747). This special issue belongs to the section "Phytochemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 December 2024 | Viewed by 3196

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Environmental Sciences, Informatics and Statistics, Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Via Torino 155, Mestre, 30172 Venice, Italy
Interests: ethnobotany; ethnobiology; ecosemiotics; biocultural diversity; Eastern Europe; post-Soviet
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Guest Editor
Estonian Literary Museum, Vanemuise 42, 51003 Tartu, Estonia
Interests: ethnobiology; ethnobotany; science history; biocultural diversity; wild food plants
Special Issues, Collections and Topics in MDPI journals

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

History is the basis for our interpretation of humanity’s past. Indeed, new developments in digital humanities and the digitalization of archives can place historical sources in a new light. Systematized historical sources allow us to see the practical changes that occurred over centuries of ethnobotany and analyze (although sometimes solely hypothesize on) the causes of such changes. Studying history helps us to understand the influences on the evolution of local ecological knowledge regarding plant use. In ethnobotany, numerous understudied historical sources are awaiting modern interpretations. Old uses enhanced by the new possibilities offered by technology can enrich our everyday life. Yet, understanding historical sources, especially in ethnobotany, where several disciplines are involved, is not univocal. Mistakes introduced by misidentified plants or information misinterpreted from old languages can have negative, long-term consequences. This Special Issue aims to provide examples of the critical analysis of various historical sources, provide insights into ongoing historical and diachronic studies on plant use, and introduce the best practice guidelines for interpreting such data.

Potential topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Critical reviews on published historical ethnobotanical sources;
  • Analysis of archival data on plant uses;
  • Methodological papers on the best practice for working with archival and historical sources in ethnobotany;
  • Interpretational papers on plant identification in historical sources without herbarium specimens;
  • Possibilities in the modern applications of historical plant use;
  • Diachronic comparison of historical plant use with the current field of ethnobotany;
  • Examples of historical influences on specific and current plant use;
  • Analysis of the potential influence of books and historical media (newspapers, magazines) and/or governmental systems on the use of plants.

This Special Issue welcomes articles on all aspects of historical ethnobotany within all potential use categories, including (but not limited to) food, medicinal, ethnoveterinary, household, building, and those related to specialization (e.g., apiculture- or fishery-related plant uses).

Dr. Renata Sõukand
Dr. Raivo Kalle
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • history of ethnobotany
  • plant identification in historical sources
  • methodology in historical ethnobotany
  • from past to present
  • diachronic comparison
  • old herbals

Related Special Issue

Published Papers (3 papers)

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Research

14 pages, 973 KiB  
Article
Brazilian Environment and Plants as Seen by Japanese Eyes Two Hundred and Twenty Years Ago
by Natalia Hanazaki
Plants 2024, 13(2), 188; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13020188 - 10 Jan 2024
Viewed by 772
Abstract
In 2023, the Japanese migration to Brazil completed 115 years. However, the first time Japanese people arrived in Brazil and left a testimony of their experience was about two centuries ago. Their reports were registered in a historical document, handwritten during the Edo [...] Read more.
In 2023, the Japanese migration to Brazil completed 115 years. However, the first time Japanese people arrived in Brazil and left a testimony of their experience was about two centuries ago. Their reports were registered in a historical document, handwritten during the Edo period when Japan was adopting a closed-door policy. The episode of their visit to Brazil is only a small part of the odyssey of these four Japanese sailors who departed from Ishinomiya to Tokyo at the end of the 18th century, but unexpectedly traveled around the globe. After a storm, they were adrift for six months until shipwrecking on the Aleutian Islands; from the Russian Aleutian Islands, they crossed the whole of Russia and boarded, in Saint Petersburg, on the first Russian expedition to circumnavigate the world. Their only stop in South America was at Santa Catarina Island, southern Brazil, and this is the first analysis of this episode from an ethnobiological perspective. Their reports described both the forest environment and the plants they observed and included at least 23 taxa of plants, mostly cultivated. These descriptions of plants and the environment are in contrast with other reports from the same period and to the current environment found in Santa Catarina Island, inspiring reflections on the construction of Brazil’s image in Japan before the 20th century. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Historical Ethnobotany: Interpreting the Old Records 2.0)
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19 pages, 2351 KiB  
Article
Traditional Knowledge Evolution over Half of a Century: Local Herbal Resources and Their Changes in the Upper Susa Valley of Northwest Italy
by Naji Sulaiman, Dauro M. Zocchi, Maria Teresa Borrello, Giulia Mattalia, Luca Antoniazzi, S. Elisabeth Berlinghof, Amber Bewick, Ivo Häfliger, Mia Schembs, Luisa Torri and Andrea Pieroni
Plants 2024, 13(1), 43; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants13010043 - 22 Dec 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 889
Abstract
Susa Valley, located in the Italian Western Alps, has served as a meeting point for cultural, spiritual, and commercial exchange for a long period of history. The valley’s role as one of the main connecting routes between south and southwestern Europe resulted in [...] Read more.
Susa Valley, located in the Italian Western Alps, has served as a meeting point for cultural, spiritual, and commercial exchange for a long period of history. The valley’s role as one of the main connecting routes between south and southwestern Europe resulted in its acquisition of a rich traditional ecological knowledge. However, like other Italian mountainous valleys, this valley has suffered from abandonment and depopulation in the past 50 years. Our study aims to investigate the current ethnobotanical medicinal knowledge in the valley and to compare our findings with a study conducted over 50 years ago in the same area. In 2018, we conducted 30 in-depth semi-structured interviews on medicinal plants and food-medicines used in the Susa Valley. We documented 36 species, of which 21 species were used for medical purposes and 15 species were used as food-medicine. The comparison with the previous study on medicinal herbs conducted in 1970 in the valley demonstrated a significant decrease in both the knowledge and use of medicinal plants, which could be attributed to socioeconomic, cultural, and possibly environmental changes that occurred in the past half-century. Our study highlights several promising species for future use as nutraceuticals, food, and medicinal products, such as Taraxacum officinale, Urtica dioica, and Artemisia genipi. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Historical Ethnobotany: Interpreting the Old Records 2.0)
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13 pages, 2726 KiB  
Article
Companion Plants of Tea: From Ancient to Terrace to Forest
by Huan Wu, Xiaofeng Long and Yanfei Geng
Plants 2023, 12(17), 3061; https://doi.org/10.3390/plants12173061 - 25 Aug 2023
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1107
Abstract
China is one of the origins of ancient tea gardens, with a long history of tea culture and tea cultivation. Guizhou Province is an important tea production place in southwest China with rich forest tea resources. The purpose of this study is to [...] Read more.
China is one of the origins of ancient tea gardens, with a long history of tea culture and tea cultivation. Guizhou Province is an important tea production place in southwest China with rich forest tea resources. The purpose of this study is to obtain historical information on companion plants in historical tea gardens and provide a theoretical basis for the sustainable development of forest tea gardens in Guizhou Province. We conducted a statistical analysis and comparison of plant species among ancient tea gardens, terrace tea gardens, and forest tea gardens from a diachronic perspective, based on 21 ancient tea literature studies, 116 terrace tea garden documents, and 18 sampled plots of forest tea gardens in Guizhou. A total of 24 companion plants species belonging to 16 families and 22 genera were found in ancient tea gardens, 81 species were found in terrace tea gardens belonging to 37 families and 74 genera, and 232 species were found in sample plots of forest tea gardens belonging to 90 families and 178 genera. Companion plants can be divided into three categories. Most of the plant families recorded in the literature also appeared in the forest tea garden we surveyed. In ancient tea gardens, terrace tea gardens, and forest tea gardens, Poaceae, Fabaceae, and Rosaceae were the most dominant families, respectively. The intercropping of tea gardens has been practiced since ancient times. Companion plants in natural forest tea gardens not only provide important insights into intercropping of terrace gardens but also hold significant implications for the conservation of existing forest tea gardens and the sustainable development of tea gardens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Historical Ethnobotany: Interpreting the Old Records 2.0)
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