Frontiers of Biology in China

, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 151-157

First online:

Characteristics and functions of traditional homegardens: a review

  • Huyin HuaiAffiliated withCollege of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Yangzhou University Email author 
  • , Alan HamiltonAffiliated withPlantlife International

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Traditional agroecosystems play an important role in the conservation of biodiversity and in sustainable development. As a typical type of traditional agroecosystem, traditional homegardens have been receiving increasing attention from scientists, especially ethnobotanists. They are considered as germplasm banks for many crops and other economic plants. They are also a key site for domestication of wild plants. Current ethnobotanical studies on homegardens focus on their structures, floristic composition, and contributions to their owners. Traditional homegardens often show complicated structures, diverse floristic compositions, multiple functions, low input (including labor and money), and ecological and socioeconomic sustainability. The characteristics and functions of traditional homegardens are closely related to many factors, such as their geographic location and the cultural backgrounds and socioeconomic conditions of their owners. Many researches on homegardens are conducted in the tropics. There are few studies on the dynamics of traditional homegardens, especially those located in temperate, arid and semi-arid zones. The dynamics of homegardens and the factors affecting these processes will be a fruitful field for future research.


traditional agroecosystem homegarden ethnobotany conservation of biodiversity