This is an indispensable guide to agaves. The uses of agaves are as many as the arts of man have found it convenient to devise. At least two races of man have invaded Agaveland during the last ten to fifteen thousand years, where, with the help of agaves, they contrived several successive civilizations. The region of greatest use development is Mesoamerica. Here the great genetic diversity in a genus rich in use potential came into the hands of several peoples who developed the main agricultural center of the Americas. Perhaps, as the Aztec legends suggest, it was the animals that first showed man the edibility of agave. Evolution in use ranges all the way from the coincidental and spurious, through tool and food-drink subsistence with mystical overlay, to the practical specialties of modem industry and art. The historic period of agave will be outlined here as briefly as that complicated development will allow.
Winner of the Society for Economic Botany’s Klinger Book Award
The Akimel O'odham, or Pima Indians, of the northern Sonoran Desert continue to make their home along Arizona's Gila River despite the alarming degradation of their habitat that has occurred over the past century. The oldest living Pimas can recall a lush riparian ecosystem and still recite more than two hundred names for plants in their environment, but they are the last generation who grew up subsisting on cultivated native crops or wild-foraged plants. Ethnobiologist Amadeo M. Rea has written the first complete ethnobotany of the Gila River Pima and has done so from the perspective of the Pimas themselves.
At the Desert's Green Edge weaves the Pima view of the plants found in their environment with memories of their own history and culture, creating a monumental testament to their traditions and way of life. Rea first discusses the Piman people, environment, and language, then proceeds to share their botanical knowledge in entries for 240 plants that systematically cover information on economic botany, folk taxonomy, and linguistics. The entries are organized according to Pima life-form categories such as plants growing in water, eaten greens, and planted fruit trees. All are anecdotal, conveying the author's long personal involvement with the Pimas, whether teaching in their schools or learning from them in conversations and interviews.
At the Desert's Green Edge is an archive of otherwise unavailable plant lore that will become a benchmark for botanists and anthropologists. Enhanced by more than one hundred brush paintings of plants, it is written to be equally useful to nonspecialists so that the Pimas themselves can turn to it as a resource regarding their former lifeways. More than an encyclopedia of facts, it is the Pimas' own story, a witness to a changing way of life in the Sonoran Desert.
The Baboquivari Mountains, long considered to be a sacred space by the Tohono O’odham people who are native to the area, are the westernmost of the so-called Sky Islands. The mountains form the border between the floristic regions of Chihuahua and Sonora. This encyclopedic work describes the flora of this unique area in detail. It includes descriptions, identifications, ecology, and extensive etymologies of plant names in European and indigenous languages. Daniel Austin also describes pollination biology and seed dispersal and explains how plants in the area have been used by humans, beginning with Native Americans.
The term “sky island” was first used by Weldon Heald in 1967 to describe mountain ranges that are separated from each other by valleys of grassland or desert. The valleys create barriers to the spread of plant species in a way that is similar to the separation of islands in an ocean. The 70,000-square-mile Sky Islands region of southeastern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and northwestern Mexico is of particular interest to botanists because of its striking diversity of plant species and habitats. With more than 3,000 species of plants, the region offers a surprising range of tropical and temperate zones. Although others have written about the region, this is the first book to focus exclusively on the plant life of the Baboquivari Mountains.
The book offers an introduction to the history of the region, along with a discussion of human influences, and includes a useful appendix that lists all of the plants known to be growing in the Baboquivari Mountain chain.
A Bedouin asking a fellow tribesman about grazing conditions in other parts of the country says first simply, “Fih hayah?” or “Is there life?” A desert Arab’s knowledge of the sparse vegetation is tied directly to his life and livelihood.
Bedouin Ethnobotany offers the first detailed study of plant uses among the Najdi Arabic–speaking tribal peoples of eastern Saudi Arabia. It also makes a major contribution to the larger project of ethnobotany by describing aspects of a nomadic peoples’ conceptual relationships with the plants of their homeland.
The modern theoretical basis for studies of the folk classification and nomenclature of plants was developed from accounts of peoples who were small-scale agriculturists and, to a lesser extent, hunter-gatherers. This book fills a major gap by extending such study into the world of the nomadic pastoralist and exploring the extent to which these patterns are valid for another major subsistence type. James P. Mandaville, an Arabic speaker who lived in Saudi Arabia for many years, focuses first on the role of plants in Bedouin life, explaining their uses for livestock forage, firewood, medicinals, food, and dyestuffs, and examining other practical purposes. He then explicates the conceptual and linguistic aspects of his subject, applying the theory developed by Brent Berlin and others to a previously unstudied population. Mandaville also looks at the long history of Bedouin plant nomenclature, finding that very little has changed among the names and classifications in nearly eleven centuries.
An essential volume for anyone interested in the interaction between human culture and plant life, Bedouin Ethnobotany will stand as a definitive source for years to come.
Prehistoric plant use in the Late Woodland of central Indiana.
This book explores the extent to which foodways, an important marker of group identity, can be recognized in charred macrobotanical remains from archaeological sites. From analysis of mere bits of burned plants we can discern what ancient people chose to eat, and how they cooked it, stored it, and preserved it.
Leslie Bush compares archaeobotanical remains from 13 Oliver Phase sites in Indiana to other late prehistoric sites through correspondence analysis. The Oliver area is adjacent to the territories of three of the largest and best-known archaeological cultures of the region—Mississippian, Fort Ancient, and Oneota—so findings about Oliver foodways have implications for studies of migration, ethnogenesis, social risk, and culture contact. Historical records of three Native American tribes (Shawnee, Miami, and Huron) are also examined for potential insights into Oliver foodways.
The study determines that people who inhabited central Indiana during late prehistoric times had a distinctive signature of plant use that separates them from other archaeological groups, not just in space and time but also in ideas about appropriate uses of plants. The uniqueness of the Oliver botanical pattern is found to lie in the choice of particular crops, the intensity of growing versus gathering, and the use of a large number of wild resources.
Winner of the Society for Economic Botany's Mary W. Klinger Book Award.
Cultural Forests of the Amazon is a comprehensive and diverse account of how indigenous people transformed landscapes and managed resources in the most extensive region of tropical forests in the world.
Until recently, most scholars and scientists, as well as the general public, thought indigenous people had a minimal impact on Amazon forests, once considered to be total wildernesses. William Balée’s research, conducted over a span of three decades, shows a more complicated truth. In Cultural Forests of the Amazon, he argues that indigenous people, past and present, have time and time again profoundly transformed nature into culture. Moreover, they have done so using their traditional knowledge and technology developed over thousands of years. Balée demonstrates the inestimable value of indigenous knowledge in providing guideposts for a potentially less destructive future for environments and biota in the Amazon. He shows that we can no longer think about species and landscape diversity in any tropical forest without taking into account the intricacies of human history and the impact of all forms of knowledge and technology.
Balée describes the development of his historical ecology approach in Amazonia, along with important material on little-known forest dwellers and their habitats, current thinking in Amazonian historical ecology, and a narrative of his own dialogue with the Amazon and its people.
People have long used wild plants as food and medicine, and for a myriad of other important cultural applications. While these plants and the foraging activities associated with them have been dismissed by some observers as secondary or supplementary—or even backward—their contributions to human survival and well-being are more significant than is often realized. Eating on the Wild Side spans the history of human-plant interactions to examine how wild plants are used to meet medicinal, nutritional, and other human needs.
Drawing on nonhuman primate studies, evidence from prehistoric human populations, and field research among contemporary peoples practicing a range of subsistence strategies, the book focuses on the processes and human ecological implications of gathering, semidomestication, and cultivation of plants that are unfamiliar to most of us. Contributions by distinguished cultural and biological anthropologists, paleobotanists, primatologists, and ethnobiologists explore a number of issues such as the consumption of unpalatable and famine foods, the comparative assessment of aboriginal diets with those of colonists and later arrivals, and the apparent self-treatment by sick chimpanzees with leaves shown to be pharmacologically active.
Collectively, these articles offer a theoretical framework emphasizing the cultural evolutionary processes that transform plants from wild to domesticated—with many steps in between—while placing wild plant use within current discussions surrounding biodiversity and its conservation. Eating on the Wild Side makes an important contribution to our understanding of the links between biology and culture, describing the interface between diet, medicine, and natural products. By showing how various societies have successfully utilized wild plants, it underscores the growing concern for preserving genetic diversity as it reveals a fascinating chapter in the human ecology.
1. The Cull of the Wild, Nina L. Etkin
2. Agriculture and the Acquisition of Medicinal Plant Knowledge, Michael H. Logan & Anna R. Dixon
3. Ambivalence to the Palatability Factors in Wild Food Plants, Timothy Johns
4. Wild Plants as Cultural Adaptations to Food Stress, Rebecca Huss-Ashmore & Susan L. Johnston Physiologic Implications of Wild Plant Consumption
5. Pharmacologic Implications of "Wild" Plants in Hausa Diet, Nina L. Etkin & Paul J. Ross
6. Wild Plants as Food and Medicine in Polynesia, Paul Alan Cox
7. Characteristics of "Wild" Plant Foods Used by Indigenous Populations in Amazonia, Darna L. Dufour & Warren M. Wilson
8. The Health Significance of Wild Plants for the Siona and Secoya, William T. Vickers
9. North American Food and Drug Plants, Daniel M. Moerman Wild Plants in Prehistory
10. Interpreting Wild Plant Foods in the Archaeological Record, Frances B. King
11. Coprolite Evidence for Prehistoric Foodstuffs, Condiments, and Medicines, Heather B. Trigg, Richard I. Ford, John G. Moore & Louise D. Jessop Plants and Nonhuman Primates
12. Nonhuman Primate Self-Medication with Wild Plant Foods, Kenneth E. Glander
13. Wild Plant Use by Pregnant and Lactating Ringtail Lemurs, with Implications for Early Hominid Foraging, Michelle L. Sauther Epilogue
14. In Search of Keystone Societies, Brien A. Meilleur
What is a beautiful garden to southern Ethiopian farmers? Anchored in the author’s perceptual approach to the people, plants, land, and food, The Edible Gardens of Ethiopia opens a window into the simple beauty and ecological vitality of an ensete garden.
The ensete plant is only one among the many “unloved” crops that are marginalized and pushed close to disappearance by the advance of farming modernization and monocultural thinking. And yet its human companions, caught in a symbiotic and sensuous dialogue with the plant, still relate to each exemplar as having individual appearance, sensibility, charisma, and taste, as an epiphany of beauty and prosperity, and even believe that the plant can feel pain. Here a different story is recounted of these human-plant communities, one of reciprocal love at times practiced in an act of secrecy. The plot unfolds from the subversive and tasteful dimensions of gardening for subsistence and cooking in the garden of ensete through reflections on the cultural and edible dimensions of biodiversity to embrace hunger and beauty as absorbing aesthetic experiences in small-scale agriculture. Through this story, the reader will enter the material and spiritual world of ensete and contemplate it as a modest yet inspiring example of hope in rapidly deteriorating landscapes.
Based on prolonged engagement with this “virtuous” plant of southwestern Ethiopia, this book provides a nuanced reading of the ensete ventricosum (avant-)garden and explores how the life in tiny, diverse, and womanly plots offers alternative visions of nature, food policy, and conservation efforts.
This collection of essays is based on the 2005 Society for American Archaeology symposium and presents research that epitomizes Richard I. Ford’s approach of engaged anthropology. This transdisciplinary approach integrates archaeological research with perspectives from ethnography, history, and ecology, and engages the anthropologist with Native partners and with socio-natural landscapes. Research papers largely focus on the U.S. Southwest, but also consider other areas of North America, issues related to museums collections, and indigenous approaches to materials research.
In the mysterious and pristine forests of the tropics, a wealth of ethnobotanical panaceas and shamanic knowledge promises cures for everything from cancer and AIDS to the common cold. To access such miracles, we need only to discover and protect these medicinal treasures before they succumb to the corrosive forces of the modern world. A compelling biocultural story, certainly, and a popular perspective on the lands and peoples of equatorial latitudes—but true? Only in part. In The Ethnobotany of Eden, geographer Robert A. Voeks unravels the long lianas of history and occasional strands of truth that gave rise to this irresistible jungle medicine narrative.
By exploring the interconnected worlds of anthropology, botany, and geography, Voeks shows that well-intentioned scientists and environmentalists originally crafted the jungle narrative with the primary goal of saving the world’s tropical rainforests from destruction. It was a strategy deployed to address a pressing environmental problem, one that appeared at a propitious point in history just as the Western world was taking a more globalized view of environmental issues. And yet, although supported by science and its practitioners, the story was also underpinned by a persuasive mix of myth, sentimentality, and nostalgia for a long-lost tropical Eden. Resurrecting the fascinating history of plant prospecting in the tropics, from the colonial era to the present day, The Ethnobotany of Eden rewrites with modern science the degradation narrative we’ve built up around tropical forests, revealing the entangled origins of our fables of forest cures.
Myrtlewood is most often thought of as beautiful wood for woodworking, but to Native people on the southern Oregon coast it was an important source of food. The roasted nuts taste like bitter chocolate, coffee, and burnt popcorn. The roots of Skunk Cabbage provided another traditional food source, while also serving as a medicine for colds. In tribal mythology, the leaves of Skunk Cabbage were thought to be tents where the Little People sheltered.
Very little has been published until now on the ethnobotany of western Oregon indigenous peoples. Ethnobotany of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians documents the use of plants by these closely-related coastal tribes, covering a geographical area that extends roughly from Cape Perpetua on the central coast, south to the Coquille River, and from the Coast Range west to the Pacific shore. With a focus on native plants and their traditional uses, it also includes mention of farming crops, as well as the highly invasive Himalayan blackberry, which some Oregon coast Indians called the "white man's berry."
The cultures of the Coos Bay, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw are distinct from the Athabaskan speaking people to the south, and the Alsea to the north. Today, many tribal members are reviving ancient arts of basket weaving and woodworking, and many now participate in annual intertribal canoe events. Ethnobotany of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians contributes to this cultural renaissance by filling an important gap in the historical record. It is an invaluable resource for anyone who wishes to learn about the indigenous cultures of the central and southern Oregon coast, as well as those who are interested in Pacific Northwest plants and their cultural uses.
Winner of the Society for Economic Botany’s Mary W. Klinger Book Award
The seemingly inhospitable Sonoran Desert has provided sustenance to indigenous peoples for centuries. Although it is to all appearances a land bereft of useful plants, fully one-fifth of the desert's flora are edible.
This volume presents information on nearly 540 edible plants used by people of more than fifty traditional cultures of the Sonoran Desert and peripheral areas. Drawing on thirty years of research, Wendy C. Hodgson has synthesized the widely scattered literature and added her own experiences to create an exhaustive catalog of desert plants and their many and varied uses.
Food Plants of the Sonoran Desert includes not only plants such as gourds and legumes but also unexpected food sources such as palms, lilies, and cattails, all of which provided nutrition to desert peoples. Each species entry lists recorded names and describes indigenous uses, which often include nonfood therapeutic and commodity applications. The agave, for example, is cited for its use as food and for alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages, syrup, fiber, cordage, clothing, sandals, nets, blankets, lances, fire hearths, musical instruments, hedgerows, soap, and medicine, and for ceremonial purposes. The agave entry includes information on harvesting, roasting, and consumption—and on distinguishing between edible and inedible varieties.
No other source provides such a vast amount of information on traditional plant uses for this region. Accessible to general readers, this book is an invaluable compendium for anyone interested in the desert’s hidden bounty.
Gathering the Desert
Gary Paul Nabhan; Illustrations by Paul Mirocha University of Arizona Press, 1985 Library of Congress QK211.N33 1985 | Dewey Decimal 581.61097217
Winner of the John Burroughs Association’s John Burroughs Medal for natural history writing and a Southwest Book Award from the Border Regional Library Association
To the untrained eye, a desert is a wasteland that defies civilization; yet the desert has been home to native cultures for centuries and offers sustenance in its surprisingly wide range of plant life. Gary Paul Nabhan has combed the desert in search of plants forgotten by all but a handful of American Indians and Mexican Americans. In Gathering the Desert readers will discover that the bounty of the desert is much more than meets the eye—whether found in the luscious fruit of the stately organpipe cactus or in the lowly tepary bean.
Nabhan has chosen a dozen of the more than 425 edible wild species found in the Sonoran Desert to demonstrate just how bountiful the land can be. From the red-hot chiltepines of Mexico to the palms of Palm Springs, each plant exemplifies a symbolic or ecological relationship which people of this region have had with plants through history. Each chapter focuses on a particular plant and is accompanied by an original drawing by artist Paul Mirocha. Word and picture together create a total impression of plants and people as the book traces the turn of seasons in the desert.
Towering over deserts, arid scrublands, and dry tropical forests, giant cacti grow throughout the Americas, from the United States to Argentina—often in rough terrain and on barren, parched soils, places inhospitable to people. But as David Yetman shows, many of these tall plants have contributed significantly to human survival.
Yetman has been fascinated by columnar cacti for most of his life and now brings years of study and reflection to a wide-ranging and handsomely illustrated book. Drawing on his close association with the Guarijíos, Mayos, and Seris of Mexico—peoples for whom such cacti have been indispensable to survival—he offers surprising evidence of the importance of these plants in human cultures. The Great Cacti reviews the more than one hundred species of columnar cacti, with detailed discussions of some 75 that have been the most beneficial to humans or are most spectacular. Focusing particularly on northwestern Mexico and the southwestern United States, Yetman examines the role of each species in human society, describing how cacti have provided food, shelter, medicine, even religiously significant hallucinogens.
Taking readers to the exotic sites where these cacti are found—from sea-level deserts to frigid Andean heights—Yetman shows that the great cacti have facilitated the development of native culture in hostile environments, yielding their products with no tending necessary. Enhanced by over 300 superb color photos, The Great Cacti is both a personal and scientific overview of sahuesos, soberbios, and other towering flora that flourish where few other plants grow—and that foster human life in otherwise impossible places.
What do most career women do after a successful run on Madison Avenue? Catherine Finerty watched her friends settle into the country-club life. She opted instead for Mexico.
When the 60-year-old widow loaded up her car and headed south, what she found at the end of the road was far from what she expected. Finerty settled into a comfortable house just outside of Guadalajara and, although not a Catholic, she soon immersed herself in Franciscan volunteer work. It wasn't long before she found herself visiting small settlements hidden in the tropical mountains of western Mexico, and it was in Jesús María—so isolated that one could only get there by mule or small plane—that she found her new calling: the village nurse.
With its bugs and heat, no phones or running water, the tiny town was hardly a place to enjoy one's retirement years, but Finerty was quickly charmed by the community of Cora Indians and mestizos. Armed with modest supplies, a couple of textbooks, and common sense, she found herself delivering first aid, advising on public health, and administering injections. And in a place where people still believed in the power of shamans, providing health care sometimes required giving in to the magical belief that a hypodermic needle could cure anything.
Finerty's account of her eight years in Jesús María is both a compelling story of nursing under adverse conditions and a loving portrait of a people and their ways. She shares the joys and sorrows of this isolated world: religious festivals and rites of passage; the tragedy of illness and death in a place where people still rely on one another as much as medicine; a flash flood that causes such havoc that even less-than-pious village men attend Mass daily. And she introduces a cast of characters not unlike those in a novel: Padre Domingo and his airborne medical practice; the local bishop, who frowns on Finerty's slacks; Chela, a mestiza from whom she rents her modest two-room house (complete with scorpions); and the young Cora Indian woman Chuy, from whom she gains insight into her new neighbors.
Blending memoir and travel writing, In a Village Far from Home takes readers deep into the Sierra Madre to reveal its true treasure: the soul of a people.
For thirty years David G. Campbell has explored the Amazon, an enchanting terrain of forest and river that is home to the greatest diversity of plants and animals to have ever existed, anywhere at any time, during the four-billion-year history of life on Earth.
With great artistic flair, Campbell describes a journey up the Rio Moa, a remote tributary of the Amazon River, 2,800 miles from its mouth. Here he joins three old friends: Arito, a caiman hunter turned paleontologist; Tarzan, a street urchin brought up in a bordello; and Pimentel, a master canoe pilot. They travel together deep into the rainforest and set up camp in order to survey every woody plant on a two-hectare plot of land with about as many tree species as in all of North America.
Campbell introduces us to two remarkable women, Dona Cabocla, a widow who raised six children on that lonely frontier, and Dona Ausira, a Nokini Native American who is the last speaker of her tribe's ages-old language. These pioneers live in a land whose original inhabitants were wiped out by centuries of disease, slavery, and genocide, taking their traditions and languages with them. He explores the intimate relationship between the extinction of native language and the extirpation of biological diversity. "It's hard for a people to love a place that is not defined in words and thus cannot be understood. And it's easy to give away something for which there are no words, something you never knew existed."
In elegant prose that enchants and entrances, Campbell has written an elegy for the Amazon forest and its peoples-for what has become a land of ghosts.
Based on his study of the nearly vanished aquatic economy of Chimalhuacán in the Valley of Mexico, Parsons describes the surviving vestiges of aquatic insect collection and fishing and considers their developmental and archaeological implications within a broad context of historical, ethnographic, biological, ecological, and archaeological information from Mexico, North and South America, the Near East, and Africa. Activities, implements, artifacts, and landscapes are richly illustrated, in many cases with the author’s own photos and a number of vintage photographs. The study concludes that aquatic resources were fully complementary with agricultural products during prehispanic times in Mesoamerica where a pastoral economy was absent.
The southern Great Basin/northern Mojave desert region is home to several different Paiute and Shoshone peoples, all of whom speak languages in the Numic language family. These societies shared a way of life based mainly on harvesting wild plants, following an annual cycle of moving and gathering the seasonally abundant resources. Because of this, they were familiar with and used the full range of plant communities, from the warm-desert Mojave to the cold-desert Great Basin, becoming practiced botanists. They learned which plants and plant parts were useful for curing certain ailments, which produced colorful dyes, which would keep spirits away, and “which crops ripened when” in a particular locality.
Native Plants of Southern Nevada arranges that plant knowledge in a traditional field-guide fashion: trees, large shrubs and vines, small shrubs and subshrubs, yuccas and agaves, cacti, herbaceous plants, grasses and grasslike plants, and bulbs. It also lists the native names given by the Owens Valley Paiute, Southern Paiute, Timbisha Shoshone, and Western Shoshone peoples, includes plant description and habitat specifics, and discusses the native uses of each plant. It gathers and compiles the wealth of information buried and scattered in ethnographic notes and monographs, and combines that with good color photographs of the plants, making them easily identifiable in the field.
Nature and Status, published in 1978, is still a standard text of the discipline, with classic papers exploring theoretical issues, principles of plant utilization, prehistoric economics, and more. A reprint of this watershed volume includes all these classic papers, a new 30-page introduction by Ford, and pages of new references.
During the vast stretches of early geologic time, the islands of the Caribbean archipelago separated from continental land masses, rose and sank many times, merged with and broke from other land masses, and then by the mid-Cenozoic period settled into the current pattern known today. By the time Native Americans arrived, the islands had developed complex, stable ecosystems. The actions these first colonists took on the landscape—timber clearing, cultivation, animal hunting and domestication, fishing and exploitation of reef species—affected fragile land and sea biotic communities in both beneficial and harmful ways.
On Land and Sea examines the condition of biosystems on Caribbean islands at the time of colonization, human interactions with those systems through time, and the current state of biological resources in the West Indies. Drawing on a massive data set collected from long-term archaeological research, the study reconstructs past lifeways on these small tropical islands. The work presents a wide range of information, including types of fuel and construction timber used by inhabitants, cooking techniques for various shellfish, availability and use of medicinal and ritual plants, the effects on native plants and animals of cultivation and domestication, and diet and nutrition of native populations.
The islands of the Caribbean basin continue to be actively excavated and studied in the quest to understand the earliest human inhabitants of the New World. This comprehensive work will ground current and future studies and will be valuable to archaeologists, anthropologists, botanists, ecologists, Caribbeanists, Latin American historians, and anyone studying similar island environments.
People have always been attracted to foods rich in calories, fat, and protein; yet the biblical admonition that meat be eaten “with bitter herbs” suggests that unpalatable plants play an important role in our diet. So-called primitive peoples show a surprisingly sophisticated understanding of how their bodies interact with plant chemicals, which may allow us to rediscover the origins of diet by retracing the paths of biology and culture.
The domestication of the potato serves as the focus of Timothy Johns’s interdisciplinary study, which forges a bold synthesis of ethnobotany and chemical ecology. The Aymara of highland Bolivia have long used varieties of potato containing potentially toxic levels of glycoalkaloids, and Johns proposes that such plants can be eaten without harm owing to human genetic modification and cultural manipulation. Drawing on additional fieldwork in Africa, he considers the evolution of the human use of plants, the ways in which humans obtain foods from among the myriad poisonous and unpalatable plants in the environment, and the consequences of this history for understanding the basis of the human diet. A natural corollary to his investigation is the origin of medicine, since the properties of plants that make them unpalatable and toxic are the same properties that make them useful pharmacologically.
As our species has adapted to the use of plants, plants have become an essential part of our internal ecology. Recovering the ancient wisdom regarding our interaction with the environment preserves a fundamental part of our human heritage.
Originally published in hardcover as With Bitter Herbs They Shall Eat It: Chemical Ecology and the Origins of Human Diet and Medicine
"People of the Desert and Sea is one of those books that should not have to wait a generation or two to be considered a classic. A feast for the eye as well as the mind, this ethnobotany of the Seri Indians of Sonora represents the most detailed exploration of plant use by a hunting-and-gathering people to date. . . . Scholarship in the best sense of the term—precise without being pedantic, exhaustive without exhausting its readers."—Journal of Arizona History
"To read and gaze through this elegantly illustrated book is to be exposed, as if through a work of science fiction, to an astonishing and unknown cultural world."—North Dakota Quarterly
When Chris McCandless, immortalized in Into the Wild, headed into the Alaska wilderness, one of the books he took with him was Tanaina Plantlore, which he used to identify edible plants. While the book and subsequent movie has brought attention to the book for more than a decade, it draws on a thousand of years of knowledge. The Dena’ina (also called the Tanaina) Athabascan peoples in southcentral Alaska have made use of the varied plant life that grows in interior Alaska for generations and Tanaina Plantlore collects this extensve knowledge, giving phsycial and environmental descriptions with photographs to aid in identification.
This book is the culmination of more than a decade of ethnobotanical study and provides accounts of the traditional lore associated with these plants based on a wealth of interviews with Dena’ina people. This new edition includes new graphical content consolidating practical plant information and traditional uses.
The Itza’ Maya of the Petén in Guatemala preside over a unique rainforest biosphere in danger of disappearing. Equally at risk is their own botanical knowledge, from taxonomy to medicinal uses. This volume contains a history of the Petén Itza’ Maya; explanation of Itza’ taxonomy; tables and keys to plant usage; common names in English, Spanish, and several indigenous languages; and much more.
Plants That We Eat is a handy, easy-to-use guide to the abundant edible plant life of Alaska. Drawing on centuries of knowledge that have kept the Inupiat people healthy, the book uses photographs and descriptions to teach newcomers to the north how to recognize which plants are safe to eat. Organized by seasons, from spring greens through summer berries to autumn roots, the book also features an appendix identifying poisonous plants.
Paquimé (also known as Casas Grandes) and its antecedents are important and interesting parts of the prehispanic history in northwestern Mexico and the U.S. Southwest. Not only is there a long history of human occupation, but Paquimé is one of the better examples of centralized influence. Unfortunately, it is also an understudied region compared to the U.S. Southwest and other places in Mesoamerica.
This volume is the first large-scale investigation of the prehispanic ethnobotany of this important ancient site and its neighbors. The authors examine ethnobotanical relationships during Medio Period, AD 1200–1450, when Paquimé was at its most influential. Based on two decades of archaeological research, this book examines uses of plants for food, farming strategies, wood use, and anthropogenic ecology. The authors show that the relationships between plants and people are complex, interdependent, and reciprocal. This volume documents ethnobotanical relationships and shows their importance to the development of the Paquimé polity.
How ancient farmers made a living in an arid to semi-arid region and the effects their livelihood had on the local biota, their relations with plants, and their connection with other peoples is worthy of serious study. The story of the Casas Grandes tradition holds valuable lessons for humanity.
As Richard I. Ford explains in his preface to this volume, the 1980s saw an “explosive expansion of our knowledge about the variety of cultivated and domesticated plants and their history in aboriginal America.” This collection presents research on prehistoric food production from Ford, Patty Jo Watson, Frances B. King, C. Wesley Cowan, Paul E. Minnis, and others.
Based on a Conservation International conference in Panama, Sustainable Harvest and Marketing of Rain Forest Products brings together the world's leading experts on rain forest development and sustainability.
In this book, close to one hundred men and women from all over southwest Alaska share knowledge of their homeland and the plants that grow there. They speak eloquently about time spent gathering and storing plants and plant material during snow-free months, including gathering greens during spring, picking berries each summer, harvesting tubers from the caches of tundra voles, and gathering a variety of medicinal plants. The book is intended as a guide to the identification and use of edible and medicinal plants in southwest Alaska, but also as an enduring record of what Yup’ik men and women know and value about plants and the roles plants continue to play in Yup’ik lives.
A Zapotec Natural History is an extraordinary book that describe the people of a small town in Mexico and their remarkable knowledge of the natural world in which they live.
San Juan Gbëë is a Zapotec Indian community located in the state of Oaxaca, a region of great biological diversity. Eugene S. Hunn is a well-known anthropologist and ethnobiologist who has spent many years working in San Juan Gbëë, studying its residents and their knowledge of the local environment. Here Hunn writes sensitively and respectfully about the rich understanding of local flora and fauna that village inhabitants have acquired and transmitted over many centuries. In this village everyone, young children included, can identify and name hundreds of local plants, animals, and fungi, together with the details of their life cycles, habitat preferences, and functions in the economic, aesthetic, and spiritual lives of the town.
Part 1 of this two-part work describes the community, the subsistence farming practices of its residents, the nomenclature and classification of the local biological taxonomy, the use of plants for treating illnesses, and the ritual and decorative roles of flowers. Part 2 is available online, and includes detailed inventories of all plant, animal, and fungal categories recognized by San Juan’s people; a series of indexes; a library of more than 1,200 images illustrating the town’s plants, people, landscapes, and daily activities; and sounds of village life.