Ethnobotany

Ethnobotany

Ethnobotany is a study of inter-relationship of plants with humans. It relates the plant location with its use within a particular community. It basically involves documentation of traditional use of the plant, then studying the documented fact by defining, interpreting and finding its different roles.

The importance of ethnobotanical studies is that it helps to gather information related to plant existence and population and its use in ongoing diseases and problems. Father of ethnobotany Richard Evans Schultes described it as “investigating plants used by societies in various parts of the world”. Example of the ethnobotanical test is ‘De Materia Medica’ which is a compilation of 600 Mediterranean plants medical and culinary information documented by Greek physician Dioscorides.

In the modern world, ethnobotany has become interdisciplinary involving contribution and collaboration of anthropologists, archaeologists, botanists, economists, linguistics and pharmacologist. Botanist is required for authentication and preservation of specimens of plants. Anthropologists will give the information on the traditional utility of plants in an area. Pharmacologists are required to define the medical use of the plant. Example- these ethnobotanical studies lead to the development of important drugs like podophyllotoxin which is used as anti-cancer and reserpine used for hypertension etc.

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