Understanding local traditional botanical knowledge concerning medicinal plants, food plants, plants in material culture and plants related to superstitions is essential to the development of a framework for land use practices and believes in isolated regions, and between different cultural groups. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to advance understanding of traditional uses of plants among three ethnic groups living in the southwestern region of Macedonia: Macedonians, Albanians and Turks. We aimed to record wild plant knowledge in southwestern region Macedonia, compare the data arising from the three considered ethnic groups, and compare this data with the other studies previously conducted in the Balkans.
Field work was conducted between January 2015 and March 2016. Information was gathered in 44 localities from 87 selected residents over 60 years using different techniques: face-to-face in depth interviews with knowledgeable elders’ with empirical knowledge; focus group discussions with farmers; face-to-face interviews with protected-areas managers; semistructured interviews with local healers and face-toface in depth interviews with local medicinal plant vendors.
A total of 109 plants species belonging to 86 different families were recorded. Rosaceae and Lamiaceae were the largest families. The study reveals that a total of 560 use(s) are being used in traditional medicinal or food practices as well in other cultural contexts of material culture and superstitions. The most popular ethnomedicinally reported plant species were used as decoctions for treating diseases related to the respiratory and digestive systems. Given the paucity of knowledge about Buglossoides purpurocaerulea (L.) I.M.Johnst., reported by locals to be very effective in urinary system treatment (kidney stones), we recommend phytochemical analysis to prove that there is scientific evidence in the treatment of above mentioned diseases. Documented data was evaluated using evaluative measures of Fidelity Level (FL), Informant Consensus Factor (ICF) and Relative Frequency of Citation (RFC).
This study shows that elderly residents of southwestern region Macedonia are comprehensive repositories of traditional botanical knowledge. The present study will be beneficial to understund importance of local knowledge in plant resources management and conservation, understand diet and its origins and evolution.
Keywords: Ethnobotany – Biocultural diversity – Medicinal plants – Food culture – Material Culture – Macedonia.
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