, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 137-152
Date: 13 May 2014

Comparing Medicinal Uses of Eggplant and Related Solanaceae in China, India, and the Philippines Suggests the Independent Development of Uses, Cultural Diffusion, and Recent Species Substitutions

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Comparing Medicinal Uses of Eggplant and Related Solanaceae in China, India, and the Philippines Suggests the Independent Development of Uses, Cultural Diffusion, and Recent Species Substitutions

Comparing Medicinal Uses of Eggplant and Related Solanaceae in China, India, and the Philippines Suggests the Independent Development of Uses, Cultural Diffusion, and Recent Species Substitutions. The ways in which geographically separate communities use crops reflect the agricultural and cultural influences on each community. The eggplant (Solanum melongena L.; Solanaceae), which was domesticated in South and Southeast Asia, has long been used in a variety of medicinal and culinary preparations across many different Asian ethnolinguistic groups. Here, we report the total uses for eggplant and sixteen related species in three regions, India, southern China, and Malesia, and conduct a comparative analysis in order to form hypotheses about how influences on plant use in one region could have affected use and evolutionary trajectories in other regions. Results from literature review and 101 interviews show a total of 77 medicinal attributes for eggplant, with few similar attributes mentioned in different regions, leading us to hypothesize that largely pristine (i.e., without influence from other regions) development of uses, which could serve as selection pressures, occurred for eggplant in India, southern China, and Malesia. Results also show that many Solanum species have been fluidly adopted into uses developed for other species in a single region.

1Received 24 June 2013; accepted 17 January 2014; published online _______.