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Uncultivated plants and livelihood support: A case study from the Chepang people of Nepal


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This study documents the use of uncultivated plants, their status and contribution to the livelihoods of Chepang people in the mid-hills of Nepal. Diversity fairs, key informant surveys, group discussions and individual household surveys were conducted. The plants identified were used as food, vegetables, medicine, and for cultural and economic reasons. The uses of 85 uncultivated plant species were documented of which 72% had multiple functions. The uncultivated foods contributed significantly to food requirements of the households (mean 2.6 months a year). Fifteen species were stored for future use, e.g., Dioscorea species. Almost all species (87%) were also culturally important or medicinal (43%). The availability of these species has declined over time. However, people have started in-situ conservation and domestication of several important species, e.g., Asparagus racemosus Willd., Dioscorea bulbifera L., and Diploknema butyracea (Roxb.) H.J. Lam, but these resources are neglected in research and development activities.
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Ethnobotany Research & Applications 7:409-422 (2009)
Kamal Prasad Aryal, International Centre for Integrated Moun-
tain Development (ICIMOD), GPO Box 3226, Kathmandu, NE-
Åke Berg, Swedish Biodiversity Centre (CBM), SLU, SE-750 07
Uppsala, SWEDEN.
Britta Ogle, Department of Rural and Urban Development, SLU,
SE-750 07, Uppsala, SWEDEN.
For instance, Shore (2000) indicated that in Bangladesh
uncultivated foods such as leafy greens, tubers and wild
fruits constituted nearly 40% of food requirements of
communities. In rural India local people consumed uncul-
tivated foods at least 50-80 days in a year (DDS 2002).
In addition to providing food directly, uncultivated plants
provide an opportunity for cash generation (Harris & Mo-
hammed 2003). Many uncultivated plant resources have
signicant economic value derived from their collection
and sale (Melnyk 1994). Moreover, uncultivated food is
an important component of the local society and culture,
and loss of those means a loss of important components
of culture and religion (Akhtar 2001). Uncultivated plants
are also used as folk medicines for common ailments
such as headache, swellings, wounds, scabies, and di-
gestion problems (DDS 2002).
Over 90% of the Nepalese people live between farmland
and forest, and they depend on natural resources for their
basic needs. In particular, the hill people depend on a
combination of forest products, livestock and agricultural
products, and their livelihoods would not be sustainable
without these resources (Manandhar 1995, 2002). Ary-
Uncultivated Plants and
Livelihood Support –
A case study from the
Chepang people of Nepal
Kamal Prasad Aryal, Åke Berg and Britta Ogle
This study documents the use of uncultivated plants, their
status and contribution to the livelihoods of Chepang peo-
ple in the mid-hills of Nepal. Diversity fairs, key informant
surveys, group discussions and individual household sur-
veys were conducted. The plants identied were used as
food, vegetables, medicine, and for cultural and economic
reasons. The uses of 85 uncultivated plant species were
documented of which 72% had multiple functions. The un-
cultivated foods contributed signicantly to food require-
ments of the households (mean 2.6 months a year). Fif-
teen species were stored for future use, e.g., Dioscorea
species. Almost all species (87%) were also culturally
important or medicinal (43%). The availability of these
species has declined over time. However, people have
started in-situ conservation and domestication of several
important species, e.g., Asparagus racemosus Willd., Di-
oscorea bulbifera L., and Diploknema butyracea (Roxb.)
H.J. Lam, but these resources are neglected in research
and development activities.
Throughout the world, wild or uncultivated plants provide
a ‘green social security’ to hundreds of millions of people
in the form of food, materials for clothes and shelter (Cun-
ningham 2001). These plants add diversity to local food
systems, reinforce culture and contribute with diversity to
farming systems, and could be important for household
food security, health, and nutrition and income generation
(Machakaire 2001, Scoones et al. 1992, Warinwa 2000).
Foods from uncultivated species forms an integral part of
the daily diets of many rural households (Cromwell 1997,
Shrestha 2001). Between 60-70% of populations in devel-
oping countries living between agricultural and forest land
areas collect various parts of uncultivated plants such as
roots, leaves, fruits, and nuts (Heywood 1999, Hladik &
Dounias 1993).
Published: December 2, 2009
Ethnobotany Research & Applications410
al & Awasthi (2004) showed that about two thirds of the
households in hill districts of Nepal suffer from food short-
ages due to insufcient agricultural production on avail-
able land.
Shifting cultivation is the traditional land-use for farm-
ers from various ethnic groups in Nepal, and is practiced
in about 20 districts (Regmi et al. 2003). The Chepang
of central Nepal are one of the ethnic groups known for
practicing shifting cultivation, but also for being among
the most marginalized communities (Kerkhoff & Shar-
ma 2006). Food security is a major concern, and a study
in Kharsang village, where 47% of the population were
Chepang, showed that 97% of the people suffered from
varying degrees of food deciency during 3-9 months per
year (Balla et al. 2002). Because the land is hardly t for
permanent cultivation, the ability to practice shifting cul-
tivation contributes to their subsistence, but this practice
might lead to periods of food insecurity. The search for
wild and uncultivated foods might therefore be an impor-
tant supplement for livelihood support (Aryal et al. 2007).
Diversity of uncultivated plant species, their occurrence
and relationship with cultivated species and their use by
humans has rarely been studied systematically (Grivetti &
Ogle 2000, Vázquez-García et al. 2004). The value and
potential of uncultivated foods in the food security and nu-
trition of rural people is also neglected in agricultural and
environmental programs (Gari 2002, Ogle 2001, Ogle et
al. 2003). Little is known about the large variety of land
use types, cultural knowledge of indigenous people and
the vast number of uncultivated plant species associated
with shifting cultivation by policy makers, authorities and
scientists (Kerkhoff & Sharma 2006). Some uncultivated
plant species are probably used by many rural house-
holds in Nepal in the daily life. However, detailed studies
about their availability, status, and contribution in the liveli-
hood support are few (Regmi et al. 2006, Shrestha 2001,
Shrestha & Dhillion 2006).
In this study we investigated the use of uncultivated plants
for foods, medicines, cultural purposes and their impor-
tance as income generation sources among Chepang
communities in the Dhading district of Nepal. The prin-
ciple aim was to identify uncultivated plant species and
understand their status and contribution to the livelihood
support of the Chepang people. We hypothesized that un-
cultivated plants were important for livelihood support and
income for the Chepang community.
Materials and methods
Study site and study population
The eld research was conducted in Bumrang village
of Dhusa Village Development Committee (VDC) in the
Dhading districts of Nepal (Figure 1). Dhading is situated
in the central development regions of Nepal between 27o
Figure 1. Location of the study area (Dhusa Village
Development Committee) in the Dhading district in the
middle hills of Nepal. Modied from map prepared by
ICIMOD April, 2007 used in Aryal 2007.
40’ to 28o 14’ N and 84o 0’ to 85o 1’ E (Rimal et al. 2002).
The study site is situated at elevations of 450 to 1400 m
above sea level with warm sub-tropical to temperate cli-
mate. The area is sensitive to erosion due to steep hill
slopes. The number of households of the VDC is 1012
(CBS 2003).
The population of Chepangs in Nepal total about 52,000
(0.23% of Nepal’s population) and are considered to be
one of the less developed communities with only 13.9%
being literate (CBS 2003). Chepangs are the ancient set-
tlers of the study area with 350 households recorded in
the VDC (Chepang District Prole 2006). Chepangs have
traditionally lived as semi-nomads depending on shift-
ing cultivation farming systems supplemented with hunt-
ing and gathering of uncultivated foods (Chepang 2006,
Manandhar 2002). The major crops are maize (Zea mays
L.) and nger millet (Eleusine coracana (L.) Gaertn.). The
household production is generally sufcient for about 5
months subsistence per year and only 1% of the Chepang
have sufcient food for the whole year from their own ag-
ricultural production (Gurung 2006). During the rest of the
year they depend on wage labor work and uncultivated
foods (Regmi et al. 2006).
Aryal et al. - Uncultivated Plants and Livelihood Support –
A case study from the Chepang people of Nepal
The main methods used for identication of uncultivated
plants that were being used were 1) diversity fairs, 2) key
informants interviews and group discussions, and 3) indi-
vidual household surveys.
Diversity fairs of uncultivated foods were organized in the
study site with the objective of quickly assessing the gen-
eral richness and status of uncultivated plants. Diversi-
ty fairs provided unique opportunities for individuals and
community members to display their local plant materi-
al, as well as to share and document associated knowl-
edge (Rijal et al. 1998, Sthapit et al. 2003). During the fair,
specimens of uncultivated plant species were collected,
identied, and vouchers were deposited at the district of-
ce of Nepal Chepang Association (NCA), Chepang San-
grahalaya (Chepang Museum), Dhading. These fairs were
useful for identifying the uncultivated species, and their
use values. Important species were collected for group
discussions about different species habitat and, uses as
foods, vegetables, medicines, or in cultural ceremonies.
Ten key informants (seven farmers and three people from
the staff at local institutions) were selected for interviews.
The community people identied the farmers whereas
the researchers identied the informants from local in-
stitutions. Key informants were considered to have good
knowledge about the local people in general and about
use of uncultivated plants in particular. All initially select-
ed key-informants agreed to participate in the study. Key
informants were interviewed about their perceptions and
experience concerning the role of uncultivated foods in
sustainable livelihoods, and conservation actions taken
to maintain these species. During repeated visits to the
study site further group discussions (8-12 people) were
held with: i) old-age key informants, and ii) with women
who the key-informants knew were especially skilled in
the use of uncultivated plants.
Sixty-two households (18% of the households) were se-
lected for interviews by using random sampling of all
households. All households were visited at least once for
approximately three hours (some household were visit-
ed twice for verication). The household survey was de-
signed to get data on farming practices, subsistence, use
of uncultivated plants and their management, as well as
personal demographic features. The household survey
questionnaire consisted of four sections. The rst section
consisted of demographic and socio-economic informa-
tion on the household, including variables such as sex,
age, wealth categories, education, household size, major
occupation, food sufciency, and household income. The
second section concerned information about the shifting
cultivation practices and the third section concerned un-
cultivated plant species. The nal section concerned in-
formation about the conservation and management of un-
cultivated plant species.
In addition, eld visits were made with the key informants
to areas where the respondents collected the uncultivat-
ed species. During the visits, harvesting methods, parts
used, harvest quantity as well as treatment and storage
of different species for future use was discussed in semi-
structured and open-ended interviews.
Results and Discussion
General features of the respondents
The farmers in the study site live under different socio-
economic conditions in terms of education, income sourc-
es, food sufciency levels, family size, age and occu-
pation. The number of interviewed persons was 62 (37
men and 25 women). The mean age of the respondents
was 39 years (44.5% of the respondents were older than
41 years and 42% were 26-40 years old.) The average
household size of the study site was 6.5 people, which
is somewhat higher than the national average of 5.4 per-
sons (CBS 2003). In general, the literacy rate was very
low; 73% of the respondents were illiterate and only 27%
could write their own name. This can be compared to the
national literacy rate of 54% (CBS 2003). The average
yearly household income was $209. Food sufciency was
a major problem in the area; about 70% of the house-
holds could only live 7-10 months on products from their
own agricultural production and 16% of the households
could live less than 6 months a year on their own agri-
cultural production. During the food decit periods, these
households depended on multiple coping strategies such
as share cropping, i.e., growing of crops on land owned by
others, (40% of the households), wage labour (90%), col-
lection of wild foods (92%), and selling of products (24% of
the households). All households used uncultivated plants
however, the quantity and forms of use differed widely be-
tween the households due to socio-economic and cultural
factors (see below).
Richness of uncultivated plants and their status
Uncultivated plants in this study include all plant resourc-
es that are collected for human consumption from natu-
ral and semi-natural environments (e.g., slash and burn
areas, agriculture elds, grasslands with natural vegeta-
tion). However, the term ‘uncultivated’ does not neces-
sarily imply a total absence of human inuence because
plants may be collected from common property areas in
some regions but protected and managed in home gar-
dens in other areas (Cromwell et al. 1997).
Diversity fairs in the area recorded a total of 85 uncultivat-
ed plant species (see Appendix 1). Of these, 61 species
(72%) had multiple functions as food, medicine, or had cul-
tural or economic importance. Most of the recorded spe-
cies are also used in other parts of the country (Manand-
har 2002, Shrestha 2001, Shrestha & Dhillion 2006).
Ethnobotany Research & Applications412
The availability of most uncultivated plants (62%) was
classied as intermediate (medium availability and pos-
sible to use on a daily basis). For 20% of the species, the
status in the wild was classied as scarce (difcult to nd,
and could not be used as much as desired), and 18% of
the species as abundant in their natural habitat (sufcient-
ly available and could be used as much as desired regu-
larly). Interestingly, almost all the species with low avail-
ability were those used for medicinal purposes or species
used for their food value. The collection and marketing
of Asparagus racemosus Willd., Cissampelos pareira L.,
Dioscorea bulbifera L., Juglans regia L., Swertia chirayita
(Roxb. ex Fleming) Karsten, Tectaria macrodonta (Fée)
C. Chr., Terminalia chebula Retz., and Tinospora sinensis
(Lour.) Merr. have been shown to have good protability
(Manandhar 2002). However, over-exploitation and illegal
harvesting and trading are threatening some of these spe-
cies (Chaudhary 1999). Similarly, uncultivated plants are
over-exploited in other parts of the worlds (Balemie & Ke-
bebew 2006, Begossi et al. 2002, Gari 2002, Tabuti et al.
2004). During group discussions, decreasing forest cover,
heavy dependency of people on these resources and il-
legal harvesting and trade were suggested as the major
causes for perceived declining abundance of these spe-
Use of uncultivated foods
All respondents reported that they use uncultivated re-
sources in their daily life. 94% of all households responded
that they used uncultivated foods due to insufciency and
because they are freely available. Medicinal value (43% of
all households) and nutritional aspects (32% of all house-
holds) were also mentioned by a relatively large propor-
tion of the respondents. A conclusion from the group dis-
cussions was that the use of medicinal plants for health
care is declining. An important reason for this change is
that the traditional healers, who used to treat people, are
few at present and the transfer of knowledge and practice
to prepare such medicines is low. The younger generation
is not interested in studying such traditional ways of medi-
cation (Bista 2004, Ladio & Lozada 2004).
The uncultivated foods contributed signicantly to the food
requirements of the households. A majority (58%) of the
households used food from uncultivated sources more
than 3.5 months per year (Figure 2). Similar contribu-
tions from uncultivated foods have been found by Balla et
al. (2002) in the Tanahun and Chitwan districts of Nepal.
Shrestha (2001) reported that 20-30% of the food require-
ments in rural communities of Nepal were met by unculti-
vated food crops.
The importance of uncultivated foods is supported by
studies in other countries. For instance, a study carried
out in India, reported that the poor consumed uncultivated
crops at least 50-80 days in a year, but also that these re-
sources used to have larger importance in the past (DDS
Contribution of uncultivated foods in food support in Dhading study sites (in motnhs/year)
0-1.4 months
1.5- 3.4 months
3.5-4.5 months
>4.5 months
0-1.4 Months
1.5-3.4 Months
>4.5 Months
3.5-4.5 Months
2002). Similarly, Shore (2000) reported that in commu-
nities in Bangladesh 40% of the food requirement came
from uncultivated foods, and in a study in Burkina Faso
Smith et al. (1995) reported that 20% of all food items
were from the wild. Cromwell et al. (1997) showed that the
value of all wild plant resources to rural communities was
calculated to be more than 8% of the agricultural gross
domestic product (GDP) in Tanzania. Thus, contributions
to the food supply by uncultivated plants are considerable
but they vary between regions and ethnic groups (Hey-
wood 1999).
In our study, uncultivated foods were less important as
a source for income (only about 4% of the households
reported that uncultivated foods contributed signicant-
ly to their income), but people have started to sell some
species with potential market value. In fact, 11.3% of the
households had started to sell A. racemosus, Castanop-
sis indica (Roxburgh ex Lindl.) A.DC., Diploknema butyra-
cea (Roxb.) H.J. Lam, Dryopteris cochleata (D. Don) C.
Chr., Phyllanthus emblica L., Tamarindus indica L., and
Thysanolaena maxima (Roxb.) Kuntze although in small
amounts at present but with signicant potential in the fu-
ture as the demand rises in the market. The selling of un-
cultivated foods is not new in this area however; there
were people who used to collect and sell products origi-
nating from other areas with a tradition of marketing wild
foods and products. Other studies have shown that many
uncultivated plant resources have signicant economic
value by preventing the need for cash expenditures, and
income derived from the collection and sale of these re-
Contribution of uncultivated foods in food support in Dhading study sites (in motnhs/year)
0-1.4 months
1.5- 3.4 months
3.5-4.5 months
>4.5 months
Contribution of uncultivated foods in food support in Dhading study sites (in motnhs/year)
0-1.4 months
1.5- 3.4 months
3.5-4.5 months
>4.5 months
Figure 2. Contribution of uncultivated foods to food
support in Dhading District, Nepal study site. Percentage
of households (n= 62) depending on uncultivated food
crops for time periods of different length during a year.
Aryal et al. - Uncultivated Plants and Livelihood Support –
A case study from the Chepang people of Nepal
sources could be important for poor people as a source of
cash (Guinand & Lemessa 2001, Melnyk 1994).
Frequently used species and their use
The most frequently used species reported by informants
and their uses are presented in Table 1. These include
trees, shrubs and herbs that were mainly used as veg-
etables and other foods.
Table 1. Frequently used uncultivated plant species in Dhading District, Nepal study site.
Species Plant types Uses Parts used
Fresh Fruit
Stable Food
Arundinaria falcata Nees Short type bamboo X Stem
Asparagus racemosus Willd. Straggling, slender shrub X X Tender shoots
Castanopsis indica (Roxburgh
ex Lindl.) A.DC.
Evergreen tree X Cotyledons
Crataeva unilocularis Buch.
Deciduous tree X Tender leaves
& buds
Dioscorea bulbifera L. Perennial herbaceous
X Tubers
Dioscorea deltoidea Wall.
ex Griseb.
Climbing herb X X Tubers
Diploknema butyracea (Roxb.)
H.J. Lam
Deciduous tree X X X Juicy pulp, seed
Dryopteris cochleata (D. Don)
C. Chr.
Terrestrial fern X Tender shoots
Phyllanthus emblica L. Deciduous tree X X Fruits
Rubus ellipticus Sm. Straggling shrub X Ripe fruits
Schima wallichii (DC.) Korth. Evergreen tree X Fruits, leaves
Urtica dioica L. Perennial herb X Tender shoots
& leaves
Table 2. Proportion of households with different frequency of harvest/
use of important food species each month in Dhading District, Nepal
study site.
Species Frequency of harvest/use per month
1-6 7-12 13-18 19-24 > 25
Dioscorea bulbifera L. 31/0 37/5 23/8 8/32 2/55
Dioscorea deltoidea Wall.
ex Griseb.
44/5 27/27 18/21 6/27 2/16
Dioscorea pentaphylla L. 71/39 42/44 13/26 3/21 0/0
Dryopteris cochleata (D.
Don) C. Chr.
40/19 10/27 5/6 2/3 0/0
Urtica dioica L. 0/0 10/11 31/27 31/32 21/21
Information on the frequency of harvest and
use was compiled for species that were of-
ten used (Table 2). Species used as staple
foods were harvested from one to more than
25 times per month. D. bulbifera and D. del-
toidea were harvested regularly and used
more than 20 times a month by a large pro-
portion of the households. Other Dioscorea
species were harvested and used on a reg-
ular basis although not as frequently as the
two species above (Table 2). Several of the
species can be stored for future use and
therefore the frequency of harvest was lower
than the frequency of use (Table 2). The most
commonly stored species were D. bulbifera
(95% of the households) and D. deltoidea (42%). Both
species were prioritized food crops in the area. Collection
of these species has shown that people used to harvest
up to 50 kg per harvest. The analysis on the quantity per
harvest showed that 71% of the household used to har-
vest 11-30 kg per harvest.
People in the study site also stored uncultivated staple
foods, vegetables and medicines for future use. The un-
cultivated starchy foods and vegetables were processed
Ethnobotany Research & Applications414
in local ways for storage to prolong their availability. Some
uncultivated starchy foods like D. bulbifera are cut into
small slices and dried either under sun light or hung above
a re place to dry before storing in an airtight container
for future use. Similarly, vegetables were sun dried when
fresh while others are boiled or blanched, for later use
during the dry season (see also Dhillion & Shrestha n.d.,
Gautam et al. 2006, Ngugi 2000, Regmi et al. 2006, Sul-
livan 2000).
Conservation and management practices
The focus group discussion and interviews of key infor-
mants suggested that the availability of the uncultivated
foods from the area has declined during the last 40 years.
During the group discussions 90% of the people had the
opinion that 40 years ago, i.e., in 1965, uncultivated food
availability was not a problem the availability of uncultivat-
ed foods since then has been halved. More than 70% of
the informants mentioned that the major reasons for such
changes were the depletion of natural vegetation and un-
controlled harvesting due to heavy dependency of local
people on uncultivated plants. These factors are also of-
ten cited as underlying causes of the decline in use of un-
cultivated resources in other studies (Akhtar 2001, Fouere
et al. 2000).
98% of respondents reported that they are involved in
management of uncultivated plant species. Moreover,
90% mentioned that they are doing in-situ conservation
of wild populations and 71% mentioned domestication
as a major way of maintaining these uncultivated food
resources. However, farmers also suggested two other
factors to facilitate sustainable use of uncultivated food
plants: i) increased awareness (17% of the households),
and ii) restrictions in the use of these plant resources
(36%). Fewer households suggested technical solutions
or increased cooperation between households. A general
conclusion from group discussions and key informant in-
terviews was that participatory natural resources manage-
ment programs are needed to encourage local people to
work with conservation and management of these natural
This study showed that people in the study site have
been using uncultivated resources for generations and,
because of their close associations with nature and nat-
ural system, have developed sophisticated knowledge
systems (Etkin 2002) about the plants and their ecosys-
tems. However, the present trends in harvesting of some
of the species are probably not sustainable and the way
of harvesting negatively impacts the species availability in
the future (see also Chaudhary 1999, Dhillion & Shrest-
ha n.d., Shrestha & Dhillion 2003). Policy support mecha-
nisms, especially on effective management and conserva-
tion of uncultivated species, are lacking (Kerkhoff & Shar-
ma 2006, Shrestha 2001). It would be a tragedy if people
such as the Chepang who maintain their livelihoods by
the combination of different strategies such as gathering
of uncultivated foods, hunting, wage labouring and sub-
sistence agriculture (shifting cultivation) lost a key compo-
nent of their food, i.e., uncultivated plants.
This study has revealed that the Chepang people of Ne-
pal continue to rely on uncultivated plant species for con-
sumption at times of food shortage and that these species
have the potential to become valuable staple foods and
important alternatives to the usual food crops cultivated by
farmers. Analysis of the use of species such as Dioscorea
showed that there is a growing pressure on wild plant re-
sources, which suggests that there is an urgent need for
an awareness program among the local people. There is
a need of integrated research and development programs
for forest dwelling communities such as the Chepang in
Nepal who have food sufciency problems, where unculti-
vated foods provide key supplements to the main diet and
are of considerable medicinal and cultural importance.
Without an understanding of the relationship between sta-
ple crop foods and uncultivated food intake, agricultural
planning will continue to be dominated by few major crops
and exclude diverse and important resources. The con-
tribution of uncultivated plants needs to be taken into ac-
count in planning. Rural families in the study site involved
in the use of such species are specically poor, so invest-
ment in the development of these resources will make a
major contribution to the alleviation of poverty.
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Ethnobotany Research & Applications418
Appendix1. Uncultivated plant species used by Chepang in the Dhading district, Nepal. Plant names are given in Nepali
(commonly used local Nepali name given by key informants). Parts used: Ba=Bark, Bu=Buds, B=Bulb, Fl=Flower,
F=Fruits, L=Leaf, La=Latex, S=Seeds, Sh=Shoots, S=Stem, R=Root, W=Whole plant, O=Others; Availability: 1=Fairly
enough, 2=Medium, 3=Low. Specimens of uncultivated plant species were collected, identied, and vouchers were
deposited at the district ofce of Nepal Chepang Association (NCA)
Scientic name
Parts used
Lyangsai Raspberry Rubus acuminatus Sm.
P 3 X F
Ainselu Lyangsai Raspberry Rubus ellipticus
Sm. Rosaceae
P 2 X F
Amala Amala Emblic
Phyllanthus emblica L.
P 2 X X X F
Amaro Pakmaru Golden
Spondias cytherea
Sonn. Anacardiaceae
P 3 X X F
Amrisho Phek Broom
maxima (Roxb.)
Kuntze Poaceae
P 2 X X S
Badhar Dhausi Monkey
Artocarpus lokoocha Roxb.
P 2 X X F
Ban kera Ban maisai Banana Musa balbisiana Colla.
P 3 X F
Ban tarul Brangoi Wild yam Dioscorea bulbifera L.
P 3 X X X B
Bankakri Banaisai -Solena heterophylla
A 2 X X F
Bans Chyas Bamboo Bambusa nepalensis
P 2 X X X Sh
Bayar Bayar Bayar Zizyphus mauritiana Lam.
P 2 X X F
Bel Bel Wood
Aegle marmelos (L.) Corrêa
A 2 X X F,
Bethe sag Bethu Lamb’s
Chenopodium album
L. Chenopodiaceae
A 1 X Sh
Bhakyamlo Rusai Nepalese
Rhus javanica L.
P 3 X X F
Goihomro Buttery
Buddleja asiatica Lour.
P 2 X X L
Bhorla Maklo Camel’s
foot climber
Bauhinia vahlii Wight & Am.
A 2 X X F,
Bhuin kafal Salyangsai -Fragaria daltoniana J. Gay
A 2 X F
Bhyakur Pass Cush-cush
Dioscorea deltoidea Wall.
ex Griseb. Dioscoreaceae
2 X X B
Bojho Bojo Sweet Flag Acorus calamus
L. Acoraceae
A 2 X C
Aryal et al. - Uncultivated Plants and Livelihood Support –
A case study from the Chepang people of Nepal
Scientic name
Parts used
Camuna Camuna -Syzygium cerasoides
(Roxb.) Raizada Myrtaceae
P 2 X X F
Bannelau China
Boehmeria platyphylla
Buch.-Ham. ex D.
Don Urticaceae
P 2 X X L
Chariamilo - Creeping
Oxalis corniculata L.
A 3 X X L
Chilaune Kyangsi Needle
Schima wallichii (DC.) Korth.
P 3 X X B
Chiraito Chiraito Chiretta Swertia chirayita (Roxb.
ex Fleming) Karsten
A 3 X W
Chiuri Yosai Butter tree Diploknema butyracea
(Roxb.) H.J. Lam
P 2 X X X F
Dante okhar - Thin-
Juglans regia L.
P 2 X X F
Dumri Dumri Cluster g Ficus racemosa
L. Moraceae
P 2 X X F
Ganja Banjorok Indian
Cannabis sativa L.
A 3 X X Se
Ghod tapre Tokre jhar Water
Centella asiatica (L.) Urb.
P 2 X R
Gayo Rabe ghas Gambles
Bridelia retusa (L.) A. Juss.
P 2 X X S
Ghiukumari - Indian Aloe Aloe vera (L.) Burm.f.
P 2 X X L
Githa Lak Air potato Dioscorea bulbifera
L. Dioscoreaceae
A 2 X X X B
Gogan Omsi -Saurauia napaulensis DC.
P 2 X
Gujargano Gujargano Velvet leaf Cissampelos pareira L.
P 3 X W
Gurjo ko
Jyumra Guancha Tinospora sinensis
(Lour.) Merr.
P 2 X X W
Hadchur - Mistletoe Viscum album L.
P 2 X W
Harro Lisai -Terminalia chebula
P 2 X X F
Imli, Titri - Tamarind Tamarindus indica
L. Fabaceae
P 1 X X F
Jaluko Fyaksa -Remusatia vivipara (Roxb.)
Schott Araceae
A 1 X Sh
Ethnobotany Research & Applications420
Scientic name
Parts used
Jamun - Black plum Eugenia formosa Wall.
P 2 X F
- Indian
Syzygium cumini (L.) Skeels
P 2 X X F
Bantaksai Wild
Mangifera indica L.
P 3 X X F
Jaringo - Poker
Phytolacca acinosa
3 X L
Kabro Kabra Elephant
Ficus lacor Buch.-Ham.
P 2 X X Bu
Kali nieuro Galo
Fern Tectaria macrodonta (Fée)
C. Chr. Aspidiaceae
A 3 X X Sh
Kansi amala - Star
Phyllanthus acidus (L.)
Skeels Phyllanthaceae
P 3 X F
Kaphal Kaphal Box myrtle Myrica esculenta Buch.-
Ham. ex D. Don Myrtcaceae
A 1 X F
Katus Ekai Chestnut Castanopsis indica (Roxb.
ex Lindl.) A. DC. Fagaceae
P 2 X X F
Koksai -Ficus semicordata Buch.-
Ham.ex Sm. Moraceae
P 1 X X F
Kharane Kharane -Viburnum cylindricum
Buch.-Ham. ex D.
Don Caprifoliaceae
P 2 X X Sh
Khasreto Cheksi Hairy g Ficus hispida L.f. Moraceae P 2 X X L
Khirro Miktalang -Sapium insigne (Royle)
Benth. & Hook.f.
P 2 X X L,
Khole sag Simsag Brooklime Veronica beccabunga L.
A 1 X L
Kimbu Nemaksai Mulberry Morus alba L. Moraceae P 2 X X F
Koiralo Rimsi -Bauhinia purpurea
L. Fabaceae
P 1 X X Bu
Kurilo Jyordum Wild
Asparagus racemosus Willd.
3 X X X Sh
Kutilkosa Nakatisai Clover
Vicia angustifolia L. ex
Reichard Fabaceae
A 1 X X F
Lapsi Lapsi Monbin Choerospondias axillaris
(Roxb.) B.L. Burtt & A.W. Hill
P 2 X X F
Latte sag Dakhinsag Amaranth Amaranthus spinosus L.
A 1 X X Sh
Lunde Armulya Pigweed Amaranthus viridis L.
A 1 X Sh
Aryal et al. - Uncultivated Plants and Livelihood Support –
A case study from the Chepang people of Nepal
Scientic name
Parts used
Michyano Iron weed Vernonia cinerea (L.) Less.
A 1 X X L
Mel Mayal Wild pear Pyrus pashia Buch.-Ham.
ex D.Don Rosaceae
P 3 X X X F
Nigalo Monyanro Himalayan
Arundinaria falcata Nees
P 2 X X S
Nimaro Nemsi Eve’s
Ficus auriculata Lour.
P 2 X X F
Niuro Niuro Edible fern Dryopteris cochleata
(D. Don) C. Chr.
A 3 X X Sh
Pakhanbed Pakhanbed Rock foil Bergenia ciliata
(Haw.) Sternb.
P 2 X W
Pandel Yausi -Ziziphus incurva Roxb.
P 2 X X F
Pani amala Tisai Fern Nephrolepis cordifolia (L.)
C. Presl. Nephrolepidaceae
P 2 X F
Pudina Pudina Mint Mentha arvensis
L. Lamiaceae
P 1 X X L
Raikhanyu Koksi Nepal
fodder g
Ficus semicordata
ex Sm. Moraceae
P 2 X X F
Ratigeri Ratigeri Bead vine Abrus precatorius
L. Fabaceae
P 2 X X F
Rudilo Nampuni -Pogostemon glaber Benth.
P 2 X W
Sal Raksi Sal Shorea robusta Gaertn.
P 2 X X La
Periploca calophylla (Wight)
Falc. Apocynaceae
P 2 X W
Shiplican Dyoyaisag Garlic pear Crataeva unilocularis
Buch.-Ham. Capparaceae
P 1 X X Bu
Sim sag Papinja Water
Rorippa nasturtium-
aquaticum (L.) Hayek
A 2 X L
Simali Glausigoi Orange
Murraya paniculata (L.)
Jack Rutaceae
P 2 X S
Sisno Nelau Nettle Urtica dioica L. Urticaceae P 1 X X L
Siundi Kituki -Euphorbia sp.
P 2 X X F
Tanki Saga Pink
Bauhinia purpurea
L. Fabaceae
P 1 X X Bu
Ethnobotany Research & Applications422
Scientic name
Parts used
Thirjo Khirsi -Aeschynanthus
parviorus (D. Don)
Spreng. Gesneriaceae
P 2 X W
Timoor Umpur Nepal
Zanthoxylum armatum DC.
P 2 X X F
Tindu Tindu Tindu Diospyros malabarica
Kostel. Ebenaceae
A 2 X F
Titepati Pati Mug wort Artemisia indica
Wild. Asteraceae
P 1 X X L
Tyaguna - - Dioscorea pentaphylla L.
A 2 X X B
... Forests represent a crucial resource stock for local people [1]. They supply a diverse array of foods, vegetables, medicines, firewood, timber, handicraft materials, etc. to communities [2,3]. Wild Edible Plants (WEPs) are plant species that are harvested for human consumption: they are critical for inclusive world food security [4]. ...
... In other words, a species presence verification was conducted along with the questionnaire survey. Herbarium specimens of unfamiliar plants were collected, later identified using The Flora of Bhutan [75] and other literature [2,[76][77][78], and stored in the Life Science Museum of Sherubtse College, Royal University of Bhutan, Trashigang. Other key information on plant parts used, season of harvest, type of plant (life form), and consumption was also recorded. ...
... where, X is the weighted average mean, x i is the multiset of data, and w i is the weights (1)(2)(3)(4)(5) assigned to each of the data sets. The generated Kruskal-Wallis test by ranks were plotted along with the calculated weighted averages so that comparisons could be made. ...
Full-text available
Definition Wild edible plants (WEPs) grow naturally in self-maintaining ecosystems. WEPs are harvested for consumption, sale, and medicinal uses. We hypothesize that WEPs play a major role in supplying food and generating income for the rural people in a world that is increasingly recognising its emerging conservation issues. We tested this hypothesis by identifying the reasons for harvest, consumption, and conservation of WEPs using focus group discussion, field observations and questionnaire surveys in south eastern Bhutan in late 2019. Methods Focused group discussions were held with the local people to identify reasons for harvest and consumption of WEPs. Data on the identified reasons for harvest, consumption, and conserving WEPs were determined using a questionnaire survey with ranking scales for a set of 76 randomly selected households. Representative field-observations and questionnaire surveys were carried out in villages close to forests. Parts of the plant used, how these were consumed, harvest season, and plant (life form) were recorded. The data was subjected to a Kruskal-Wallis rank sum test and weighted averages calculated. Result and conclusion A total of 120 WEPs belonging to 63 families (including Agaricaceae) were reported. Most of the WEPs recorded were trees (45.0%) then herbs (25.8%), vines (13.3%) and shrubs (10.8%). The commonly consumed plant parts were the fruit (43.3%), shoots (28.3%) and leaves (20.8%). The purposes for harvesting and consumption, conservation of WEPs were significantly (P<0.001) different, while the motivations for collecting WEPs were not. The motivation for collecting WEPs were family consumption > sale > medicinal uses > preservation for future use > insufficient food from cultivated source’s. The two most important strategies for conservation were to domesticate the WEPs and cultivate in forests. The findings reveal valuable lessons and insights about the reasons for harvesting, collection, consumption, and conservation of WEPs.
... Especially during scarcity of food and vegetables, people collect wild and underutilized vegetables from their natural habitats (Dangol, 2003). Wild vegetables like Dioscorea species are still being used as a daily source of energy and micronutrients by the Chepang community and other isolated communities (Aryal et al.,2009). These vegetables contribute to the health and well-being of thousands of indigenous people and local communities in Nepal (Manandhar, 2002). ...
... In the present context, the availability of underutilized species is decreasing at an alarming rate in rural areas consequently causing large genetic, cultural and religious erosion (Aryal et al.,2009). The main reasons behind this rapid decline are overexploitation, monocropping, introduction of high yielding hybrid varieties, intensive and mechanized agriculture, population pressure and habitat destruction (Manandhar, 2002). ...
... Limbu and Thapa (2011) found majority of Chepang people residing in the hilly areas of Nepal highly dependent on wild fruits and vegetables as shifting cultivation was insufficient to feed their families throughout the year. Another study carried out in a Chepang community reported that 58% of households were depended on wild and underutilized plants for vegetables for up to 5 months a year (Aryal et al., 2009). Bhattarai et al. (2013) reported that75% of the respondents were depending exclusively on wild and underutilized plants for 1-3 months and 10% for more than 3 months to meet their daily vegetable requirements in Darchula District. ...
Full-text available
Wild and underutilized vegetables are important sources of food, nutrition, and income for rural communities and indigenous people. Cultivation of high-yielding hybrid varieties, change in food habits, climate change and over-harvesting have resulted in genetic erosion of these vegetables. In addition to this, their availability, distribution and uses are poorly documented. This study aims to document the wild, neglected, and underutilized vegetable species in Jaimini Municipality of Baglung District, Western Nepal. Complete information on wild and underutilized vegetables were collected using semi-structured interviews, guided field walks, and field observation. We recorded 64 species of wild and underutilized vegetables belonging to 27 different families in the study area. Leaf was the most used plant part (26 species) and majority of the plants species were herbs (33 species). Most of these vegetables were consumed in rainy and summer seasons and their availability decreased during winter season. Knowledge regarding their utilization, cultivation, and conservation were also gradually disappearing. Therefore, consumer awareness, evaluation of their nutritional value, and promotion for their commercial use should be emphasized for the inclusion of these vegetable species in our daily diet.
... Historically speaking, the growth of human civilization was heavily dependent on plant resources, and the first evidence of bamboo usage was reported during the period of Shang dynasty (16the11th century BC) in China (Mei et al., 2015). The most important traditional uses of bamboos include paper and pulp, housing (Jain & Borthakur, 1980;Thomas et al., 2014;Yuming et al., 2004), scaffolding, pipes, bridges, food (Borkataki et al., 2008;Cabuy et al., 2012;Zhang et al., 2016), fodder (Aryal et al., 2009;Dhyani & Dhyani, 2016), fishing (Santos et al., 2003;Lagade & Muley, 2018;Saha & Nath, 2013), medicine (Hariyadi & Ticktin, combining traditional ideas with modern concepts, thereby giving a classic modern look to the newly emerging bamboo based products like furniture. With improved processing techniques, these furnished bamboo furniture can compete with other wooden furniture in terms of durability and cost. ...
... In many parts of India, fodder is prepared from bamboo such as in upper Kedarnath valley of Garhwal (Dhyani & Dhyani, 2016) and Bhagirathi valley (Uniyal et al., 2002) (Table 24.2). Use of bamboo as fodder has also been recorded for Tibetans in Shangri-la region of Yunnan Province in China (Ju et al., 2013), Bhutia, Lepcha and Nepali community in Sikkim (Sharma et al., 2018), and Chepang tribes residing in Dhading district of Nepal (Aryal et al., 2009) (Table 24.2). ...
Bamboo is an economically important plant of the family Poaceae. India is very rich in bamboo diversity, and particularly the eight sister states of North-East India are major hotspots with respect to genera and species diversity of bamboo worldwide. The local ethnic people are heavily dependent on the bioresources available from bamboos for various purposes such as food, beverage and their processing, fodder, medicine, in construction of houses, fishing, and handicraft industry. In this chapter, examples have been drawn primarily from North-East India, but also from the rest of the world. Knowledge of such uses need to be documented for sustainable exploitation of the bamboo vegetation and genetic diversity. Considering the extensive ethnic diversity and genetic diversity of bamboos in India, it is highly possible that many important ethnobotanical utilities of bamboos remain unknown. Therefore, transdisciplinary studies are needed to extract the vast knowledge of unknown ethnobotanical information available with different tribal communities of India and elsewhere. Also advances of technologies, such as pathway engineering should be employed to improve traits for the better exploitation of this bioresource.
... Despite socio-economic changes, the Chepang people have preserved their identity by maintaining their traditional knowledge system [36]. The Chepang use various forest resources to support their livelihood [57]. Apart from fodder, timber and fuelwood, they collect wild vegetables and fruits that are used as dietary supplements and play a significant role in food security, as crop production is not sufficient for year-round sustenance [32]. ...
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Major socioeconomic changes over the last few decades have reduced Indigenous peo-ples' engagement in cultural practices, such as harvesting of forest resources. Nevertheless, some species remain important for culture, subsistence and livelihood, such as the chiuri tree (Diploknema butyracea (Roxb.) H. J. Lam) to the Chepang people of Central Nepal. Using the cultural keystone species framework, we conducted interviews within Chepang communities to assess the biocultural importance of the chiuri tree. It is central to the Chepang culture, and no other species could provide the same benefits. It also provides food and habitat for a number of wildlife species, including bats, which are themselves culturally important. Strictly observed tree ownership rules, as well as a cultural ban on tree cutting and branch lopping, have so far contributed to chiuri conservation. However, these rules are increasingly less adhered to. Other threats to chiuri sustainability are excessive flower foraging by bees (reducing pollen production) and bat hunting (reducing pollen transport). Further studies are needed to quantify these threats and to adjust forest and wildlife management practices so that the cultural landscape continues to provide multiple benefits to the Chepang people. Our study of the chiuri case attests to the usefulness of the cultural keystone species framework in landscape assessment for management and conservation.
... These plants are vital to the livelihoods of rural households and forest dwellers in many underdeveloped countries (Jadihav et al., 2011). 60-70 percent of people in developing nations that live in agricultural and forest areas collect various plant parts and meals from forest species such roots, leaves, fruits, and nuts, which are an important component of their daily diets (Aryal et al., 2009). These wild edible vegetables can be used as a supplement to a nutritionally balanced diet as well as a replacement for staple foods during times of food scarcity (Narzary et al., 2013). ...
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The assessment of Ikom people on wild edible vegetables (WEVs) was undertaken by interviews utilizing a semi-structured questionnaire matrix in the four local governments of Cross River State. Focused, conversational, and two-way interviews were conducted. Each of the detected WEVs' therapeutic value was also determined. Despite the fact that the majority of the respondents were females over the age of 25, illiterates, of low socioeconomic position, and engaged in agricultural activities, these socioeconomic classifications were not prerequisites to their awareness of the WEVs. In the study area, a total of 20 WEVs from 17 families were appreciated for medicine and nutrition, with the Asteraceae family having the most species. The leaves were the most common component in the WEVs discovered. The diseases that these WEVs controlled and/or avoided were identified. It was determined that the WEVs must be sustainable in order to enhance the dietary and health conditions of the indigenous peoples in the study area
... The majority of rural communities living in *Correspondence: Revathi, P., PG and Research Department of Botany, Kongunadu Arts and Science College, Coimbatore -641029, Tamil Nadu, India. E.mail: mountain and hill regions use wild and noncultivated edible plant species for food, medicine and other purposes [3,4,5]. Both in anthropology and ecology, a now classical distinction has been made between hunter gatherers and agriculturalists. ...
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Due to the civilization, the core environmental changes has been observed in city where still documentation of cultivated and wild species has yet to be done for future studies over the seasonal changes and study of relationship between human and plants in recent scenario. Based on this fundamental concept, the study area has been chosen for the documentation of plant species in north Coimbatore city area to accomplish the project. The planned study area comprises of Periyanaicken palayam, Annur, Karamadai, Sarcarsamakulam. There are hundred plant species documented in this floristic study. Out of which 62 are domesticated plants as ornamental or other consumption purposes and 37 are wild plants around the residing area. This analysis indicated that the documented plant species comes under 40 taxonomic families. Highest species found in the family Fabaceae (15), Apocyanaceae (7), Solanaceae (5), Malvaceae (5), Acanthaceae (5). It is also revealed that the documented domesticated plant species are with the high number of Tree habits (40%) whereas documented wild plant species are with the high number of Herb habits (46%) than other habits. Among which most of the plants are used for domestic consumption, ornamentation and few are medicine. In this survey, no rare status plants have been observed and the area is completely civilized and the land area around the residence has been highly influenced by human beings. The wild species documented in this area are herbaceous weed plants blooming at every rainy season. This study concluded that the wild plants are highly destroyed for various purposes and lead to have only herbaceous weeds around us. Hence the cultivation of trees and protection management has to be initiated to increase the green cover of the study area to regain the misty, moderate climate as the identity of Coimbatore. It will definitely improve the wild fauna lives of the area and other ecological services from vegetation.
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The knowledge of Wild Edible Plants (WEPs) is as old as human civilization and still, they are playing a supplementary role in global food security. WEPs are an integral part of their traditional food systems and have nutritional and cultural values in their routine livelihood. WEPs are increasingly considered a potential source of a naturally healthy diet. But in many cases, the available WEPs resources are under threat of various kinds like overexploitation, overgrazing, forest fires, agricultural encroachment, etc.; the changing climate also negatively impacts on WEPs. Therefore, there is an urgent need for the conservation of the diversity of WEPs and their sustainable management. The present mini-review is an attempt to present the current scenario of WEPs, their importance, and a potential source of nutrients for future food security, ethnic knowledge associated with them, threats encountered by WEPs, and their possible sustainable management scheme.
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Ferns are used as traditional and fascinating foods in many countries. They are also considered to possess important ethnomedicinal values; however, ferns are one of the underutilized plant resources by both scientific and local communities. Pharmagonostical studies reveal that ferns and fern-allies possess several biological activities including antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal, antimalarial, antidiarrheal, anthelmintic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antidiabetic, anticancer, neuroprotective, nephroprotective, hepatoprotective, antifertility, etc. Flavonoids and terpenoids are major secondary metabolites present in ferns. Ugonins, particularly isolated from Helminthostachys zeylanica, have found diverse bioactivities. Ptaquiloside, a norsesquiterpene glucoside, found in Pteridium revolutum, Dryopteris cochleata and Polystichum squarrosum, is one of the hazardous metabolites of ferns which is responsible for the toxic effect. Alkaloids are reported to be present in the ferns; however, the qualitative data are uncertain. Some fern metabolites, such as cyanogenic glycosides and terpenoids, are considered to possess defensive activity against animal attacks. Some ferns are also used for manuring as biological alternative to pesticides. Nepalese have consumed at least 33 species of ferns and fern-allies belonging to 13 families, 20 genera as cooked vegetable foods. The aim of this review is compilation of information available on their distribution, ethnomecinal values, pharmcognosy, pharmacology and phytochemistry.
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Despite intensive and lengthy government efforts throughout the eastern Himalayan region to control shifting cultivation, the practice remains entrenched over large areas. The study presented here is based on the idea that shifting cultivation must make some sense, if hundreds of millions of farmers continue to practise it despite all incentives to stop. It was designed to take a fresh and unbiased look at the practice, and especially at innovations introduced by farmers in response to contemporary pressures and restraints. The hope was to find innovations that would help resolve the current situation, in which external development and policy interventions are not taking effect while the practice of shifting cultiva - tion is deteriorating as a result of the limitations imposed on it. The aim was to raise awareness on issues related to shifting cultivation, to establish a platform for exchange of ideas, and to develop detailed policy recommendations to support the work of governments. The research presented in this study identifies farmers' traditional practices and more recent indigenous innovations that contribute to the benefits this farming system has to offer. These benefits accrue both to the practitioners and to other stakeholders, including national governments. Shifting cultivation and the farmers' innovations in particular were found to contribute to forest cover and biodiversity conservation, while at the same time maintaining agricultural and forest productivity. Commercial niche products and organic farming contribute to economic development that is adjusted to mountain circumstances and builds on existing potential. The local institutions developed by shifting cultivation communities were found to be relatively strong, and to enhance social security and cultural integrity. Development ap- proaches that build on this existing potential and capacity are likely to be more acceptable to the farmers concerned and more achievable. Realising this potential, and the need for policy changes across the region, the Shifting Cultivation Re - gional Policy Dialogue Workshop for the Eastern Himalayas was held in October 2004 in Shillong, India, to discuss the research findings and formulate concrete policy recommendations. These recommendations were endorsed through the 'Shillong Declaration', which, in summary, envisages a re-examination of the policies in place, the removal of the explicit policies and instruments that discourage shifting cultiva - tion, and the stronger implementation of existing beneficial policies. Since the adoption of the Shillong Declaration, and advocacy for the recommendations, the issues related to shifting cultivation have gained renewed interest in policy debates as well as in research and development. The new perspective has been appreciated well beyond the initial countries of the study, including in Southeast Asia. The more appre - ciative and participatory approach, which has provided them with new options, has been welcomed by policy makers as well as development workers, researchers and government extension officers.
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Uncultivated foods have received little attention in the scientific literature and nutrition programs of Mexico because they are usually seen as complementary to agricultural activities, i.e., corn planting and harvesting. Using an ecosystem approach to human health, this article examines the availability, nutritional contribution, and consumption patterns by gender and age of such foods in Ixhuapan and Ocozotepec, two native communities of southern Veracruz, Mexico. The research shows important differences between both communities. Ixhuapan has a more uniform environment and its people have opted for commercial activities and land parceling. Land use changes have led to a decrease in the number of people engaged in subsistence agriculture, environmental degradation, lower corn yields, and the loss of traditional, uncultivated foods. These changes have had a negative impact on the nutritional status of Ixhuapan children and adults, particularly women. Within each community, however, there are also important differences in terms of access to resources based on gender and age. Men catch game and large fish while women catch shrimp. Men gather seasonal plants in the forest while women gather wild weeds in the cornfields and spices in their backyards. Boys, more often than girls, obtain fruits from trees located in their backyard or the towns public spaces. The article shows that womens food resources are frequently consumed and constitute good sources of micronutrients.
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This study focuses on knowledge of medicinal plants among the Caiaras (rural inhabitants of the Atlantic Forest coast, Brazil). In particular, we examine the use of medicinal plants according to sex and age to reveal general patterns of Caiara knowledge and use of plant resources. Data collected through 449 interviews at 12 Caiara communities (Rio de Janeiro and So Paulo coastal sites) include citations of 249 plants and identification of 227 species. We show the importance of introduced as opposed to native plants and of key individuals for the conservation of the Caiaras-Atlantic Forest.
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The importance of edible wild plants may be traced to antiquity but systematic studies are recent. Anthropologists, botanists, ecologists, food scientists, geographers, nutritionists, physicians and sociologists have investigated cultural aspects and nutrient composition of edible species. Important contributions to the diet from edible wild plants are well documented and numerous studies reveal roles played by 'lesser-known' species when meeting macro- and micronutrient needs of groups at risk, whether infants and children, pregnant and/or lactating women, or the elderly. The literature is vast and scattered but information on the macro- and micronutrient content of wild plants and their importance to the human diet appear in five kinds of publications: cultural works by social scientists, descriptions and inventories by botanists, dietary assessment studies by nutritionists, intervention programmes managed by epidemiologists and physicians, and composition data generally conducted by food scientists and chemists. Many macro- and micronutrient-dense wild species deserve greater attention but lack of adequate nutrient databases, whether by region or nation, limit educational efforts to improve diets in many Third World areas. Limited and uneven compositional data generally reflect factors of cost and personal interest in key nutrients. Whilst edible wild plants are regularly deprecated by policy makers and considered to be the 'weeds of agriculture', it would be tragic if this led to loss of ability to identify and consume these important available species.
This study documents wild food species in a locally managed forest by the inhabitants of nine villages in the Dolakha district, Nepal. It presents data on their diversity, and traditional knowledge on plant use, propagation and local domestication collected through household and key informant interviews, forest transects inventories and herbaria verifications. Sixty-two wild food plants belonging to 36 families were recorded; most of them (80%) have multiple uses. Many of the food plants are herbaceous (24 species) and produce fruits for consumption (46%). Most of the food plants are consumed by the local communities as snacks, and are supplementary and nutritionally important especially prior to the harvest of staple foods. Elder women (>35years) are the most knowledgeable group, being able to describe the use of 65% of all edibles as compared to only 23% described by young men (<35years). Many villagers also possess knowledge on the modes of propagation for the food plants that may be used in the process of domestication. The local communities expressed a strong desire for the establishment of community enterprises based on the wild food resources for long-term income generation sources. To accomplish this, development of collective co-operative strategies based on assessments of the biology, size of harvestable population, sustainable harvesting techniques, and marketing value and demand of promising species would be required. Moreover domestication potential based on species identified in this paper and other species that local communities have knowledge on ought to be encouraged through incentive and policy interventions.
Because biodiversity is debated primarily from western perspectives, the significance of threatened taxa has not been properly assessed in the cultural and ecological contexts of their use. Instead, conservable species tend to be identified by outsiders who are culturally and politically detached from the threatened environments. However, over the last decade or so a growing number of studies document why and how indigenous knowledge and people can become part of development and sustainable conservation. Presented here is a Nigerian example that illustrates how formal conservation efforts are handicapped by their failure to take into account local environmental knowledge. I argue that the potential erosion of biodiversity in Hausaland has been checked by the varied management of cultivated and other lands, and by the use of plants in overlapping contexts—as medicines, foods, and the like.
Wild and cultivated fruits, leaves, nuts, seeds, spices and vegetables from southern Burkina Faso and Niamey, Niger, were analysed for their copper, iron, magnesium, manganese and zinc concentrations and compared to imported, exotic reference foods found within the study area. The species analysed covered a broad spectrum of local diet; 33 were wild and 16 were cultivated. The edible wild plants were often the highest in mineral concentrations. Five species analysed, exhibited consistently high mineral values, specifically, Adansonia digitata, Boerhavia diffusa, Cerathoteca sesamoides, Sclerocarya birrea and Xylopia sp. The latter was particularly high in zinc, an observation which suggests that there may be a solid rationale for local traditions which recommended its consumption during pregnancy and lactation. Respondents indicated that during times of drought, wild plants were not consumed in the volume they once were, due to changes of infrastructure and in famine relief programmes.