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Chapter 8: Ethnobotany

American botanist J. W. Harshberger first defined the term “ethnobotany” in 1896 as “the studies of plants used by primitive and aboriginal people” (Balick and Cox 1996). Since then, many attempts have been made to provide a descriptive definition (Bennett 1997). In broad terms, ethnobotany is the study of the relationship and interactions between plants and people (Balick and Cox 1996). This field of study analyzes the results of indigenous manipulations of plant material together with the cultural context in which plants are used (Balick and Cox 1996). It includes collaboration with disciplines such as ecology, chemistry, anthropology, economics, and linguistics (Prance 1991). However, the amount of interdisciplinary work done in ethnobotany needs to be increased in the future (Martin 1995, Prance 1991).

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Author(s): Ana Lucrecia E. De Macvean, Elfriede Pöll

Publication: Tropical Tree Seed Manual

Section: Chapter 8