Advertisement

Economic Botany

, Volume 50, Issue 1, pp 71–107 | Cite as

Ethnobotany of the garífuna of Eastern Nicaragua

  • Felix G. Coe
  • Gregory J. Anderson
Article

Abstract

We report the diversity of plants used by the Garifuna focusing on medicinals. Garifuna plants documented in this study are distributed among 75 families, 193 genera, and 254 species. Included are 229 medicinals, 93 food plants, and 94 species for other uses. Garifuna medicinals treat more than 30 human ailments and most are native (74%) to eastern Nicaragua. About 70% of the medicinals have some bioactive principle, most are herbs (37%) or trees (34%), and leaves are the most frequently utilized plant part. Most are prepared as decoctions and are administered orally. Most food plants are domesticates, and only 14 of 51 domesticated food species are native to the NW tropics with only three to Mesoamerica. Garifuna culture is changing rapidly as a result of contact with immigrating mestizos from central Nicaragua. This study provides a written record of folk medicine and ethnobotany for the people of eastern Nicaragua.

Key Words

ethnobotany medicinal plants Garífuna eastern Nicaragua 

La etnobotánica de los Garífuna de Nicaragua oriental

Resumen

Presentamos un informe sobre la diversidad de plantas usadas por los Garífunas con enfoque en aplicaciones medicinales. Las plantas Garífunas documentadas en este estudio (1992–1993) representan 75 familias, 193 géneros y 254 especies. De éstas, 229 son médicinales, 93 comestibles y 94 de usos anciliares. La farmacopea Garífuna se utiliza para tratar más de 30 dolencias humanas. El 74% de las plantas medicinales son nativas de Nicaragua oriental, aproximadamente el 70% tienen algún principio bioactivo, 37% son hierbas o árboles (34%) y la hoja es la parte más utilizada. Los remedios medicinales son preparados preferiblemente en decoción y administrados oralmente. La mayoría de las plantas comestibles son domesticadas y sólo l4 de 51 son nativas del neotrópico y sólo tres de Mesoamerica. Los Garífunas estan sujetos a una rápida aculturación debido a la inmigración de mestizos del área central de Nicaragua. Por consiguiente, este estudio documenta la etnomedicina y la etnobotánica para la población del oriente Nicaragüense.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Barrett, B. 1994. Medicinal plants of Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast. Economic Botany 48:8–20.Google Scholar
  2. Bell, C. N. 1989. Tangweera: life and adventures among gentle savages. University of Texas Press, Austin, TX. (Originally published in 1899).Google Scholar
  3. Bhat, R. B.,E. O. Etejere, andV. T. Oladipo. 1990. Ethnobotanical studies from Central Nigeria. Economic Botany 44:382–390.Google Scholar
  4. Bhattarai, N. K. 1992. Medical ethnobotany in the Karnali Zone, Nepal. Economic Botany 46(3):257–261.Google Scholar
  5. Bolanos, D. 1974. La medicina indfgena pre-colombina de Nicaragua. Editorial “La Imprenta,” Estelí, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  6. Boom, B. M. 1987. Ethnobotany of the Châcobo Indians, Beni, Bolivia. Advances in Economic Botany 4:1–68.Google Scholar
  7. Bossert, T. J. 1981. Health policy making in a revolutionary context: Nicaragua, 1979–1981. Social Science and Medicine 15C:225–231.Google Scholar
  8. Briggs, C. L. 1986. Learning how to ask. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, Great Britain.Google Scholar
  9. Burns, R. E. 1964. Field screening of lupines and other plants for alkaloid content. Agronomy Journal 56:246.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Bye, R. A. 1986. Medicinal plants of the Sierra-Madre: comparative study of the Tarahumara and Mexican market plants. Economic Botany 40:103–124.Google Scholar
  11. —, andE. Linares. 1983. The role of plants found in the Mexican markets and their importance in ethnobotanical studies. Journal of Ethnobiology 3:1–13.Google Scholar
  12. Cambie, R. C., andJ. Ash. 1994. Fijian medicinal plants. CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation), Australia.Google Scholar
  13. CIDCA (Centra de Investigatión y Documentatión de la Costa Atlântica). 1982. Demografia costeña. CIDCA,Managua, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  14. —. 1986. Diccionario elemental: Miskito-Español /Español-Miskito. Editado e impreso en MIDINRA, Managua, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  15. —. 1989. Diccionario elemental del Ulwa: Sumu Meridional. Centro de Ciencia Cognitiva, Instituto Tecnolℷico de Massachusetts, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  16. Coe, F. G. 1994. Ethnobotany of the Garífuna of eastern Nicaragua. Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT.Google Scholar
  17. Coelho, R. 1955. The black Caribs of Honduras: a study in acculturation. Ph.D. Dissertation,Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.Google Scholar
  18. Conzemius, E. 1928. Ethnographical notes on the Black Carib (Garif). American Anthropologist 30: 183–205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Cook, A. H.,H. M. Bunbury, andD. H. Hey. 1965. Dictionary of organic compounds, Vols. I–V. Oxford University Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  20. Cosminsky, S. 1979. Medicinal plants of the Black Caribs. Actes du XLII Congrés International des Américanistes, Vol. VI:535–552. Société des Américanistes, Musée de l’Homme, Paris, France.Google Scholar
  21. —,and I. Harrison. 1984. Traditional medicine, Vol. II, 1976–1981. Garland Publishers, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  22. Cox, P. A., andS. A. Banack. 1991. Island, plants, and Polynesians: an introduction to Polynesian ethnobotany. Dioscorides Press, Portland, OR.Google Scholar
  23. Crane, J. G., andM. V. Angrosino. 1992. Field projects in anthropology. 3rd ed. Waveland Press, Inc., Prospect Heights, IL.Google Scholar
  24. Crawford, M. 1984. Current development in anthropological genetics: Black Caribs: a case study in biocultural adaptation. Plenum Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  25. Cronquist, A. 1981. An integrated system of classification of flowering plants. Columbia University Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  26. Croom, E. M. 1983. Documenting and evaluating herbal remedies. Economic Botany 37:13–27.Google Scholar
  27. Davidson, W. V. 1979. Dispersal of the Garifuna in the Western Caribbean. Actes du XLII Congrés International des Américanistes, Vol. VI:467–474. Société des Américanistes, Musée de l’Homme, Paris, France.Google Scholar
  28. — 1980. The Garífuna of Pearl Lagoon: ethnohistory of an Afro-American enclave in Nicaragua. Ethnohistory 27:31–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Dennis, P. A. 1981. Grisi siknis among the Miskito. Medical Anthropology 5:445–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. — 1984. Kinship among the Miskito. American Ethnologist 11:718–737.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. — 1988. Herbal medicine among the Miskito of eastern Nicaragua. Economic Botany 42:16–28.Google Scholar
  32. Duke, J. A. 1972. Isthmian ethnobotanical dictionary. 8210 Murphy Road, Fulton, MD.Google Scholar
  33. —. 1994. Chemical composition of Belizean plants discussed in rainforest remedies: one hundred healing herbs of Belize.New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.Google Scholar
  34. Ellsberg, M. 1982. Experiencias de educatión y participation popular en salud, Zelaya Sur. DECOPS, MINSA-RAAS, Bluefields, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  35. Garcia-Barriga, H. 1992. Flora medicinal de Colombia. Tomo I–III. Tercer Mundo Editores, Bogota, Colombia.Google Scholar
  36. Guerrero, J. N., andL. SorianodeGuerrero. 1985. Diccionario Nicaragüense: geográfico e histórico. Editorial Somarriba, Masaya, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  37. Hadel, R. E. 1975. A dictionary of Central America Carib. 3 vols. BISRA, Belize.Google Scholar
  38. Hale, C., andE. T. Gordon. 1987. Costeño demography: historical and contemporary demography of Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast. Pages 7–31in CIDCA, ed., Ethnic groups and the nation state: the case of the Atlantic Coast in Nicaragua. University of Stockholm, Stockholm, Sweden.Google Scholar
  39. Harborne, J. B. 1988. Phytochemical methods: a guide to modern techniques of plant analysis. Chapman and Hall, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  40. Harwood, A. 1971. The hot-cold theory of disease: implications for treatment of Puerto Rican patients. Journal of the American Medical Association 216: 1153–1158.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Hegnauer, R. 1962. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 1. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  42. — 1963. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 2. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  43. — 1964. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 3. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  44. — 1966. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 4. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  45. — 1969. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 5. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  46. — 1973. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 6. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  47. — 1986. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 7. Birkhauser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  48. — 1989. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 8. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  49. — 1990. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 9. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  50. — 1992. Chemotaxonomie der Pflanzen. Vol. 10. Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, Switzerland.Google Scholar
  51. Heiser, C. B. 1990. Seed to civilization: the story of food. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  52. Helms, M. 1971. Asang: adaptations to culture contact in a Miskito community. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, FL.Google Scholar
  53. — 1983. Miskito slaving and culture contact: ethnicity and opportunity in an expanding population. Journal of Anthropological Research 39:179–197.Google Scholar
  54. Hodgson, R. 1967. ElP UMAR y el desarrollo socioeconómico de las comunidades rurales de los municipios de Bluefields y Rama, Departamento de Zelaya. Tesis de Doctoramiento, Facultad de Ciencias Médicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, León, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  55. Holm, J. 1978. The Creole English of Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast: its sociolinguistic history and a comparative study of its lexicon and syntax.Ph.D. Dissertation, University of London, London, Great Britain.Google Scholar
  56. Howes, F. N. 1974. A dictionary of useful and everyday plants and their common names. Cambridge University Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  57. Incer, J. 1985. Toponomías indígenas de Nicaragua. Libro Libre, San José, Costa Rica.Google Scholar
  58. Johns, T., andE. K. Kimanani. 1990. Herbal remedies of the Luo of Siaya district, Kenya: establishing quantitative criteria for consensus. Economic Botany 44:369–381.Google Scholar
  59. Lal, S. D., andK. Lata. 1980. Plants used by the Bhat community for regulating fertility. Economic Botany 34:273–275.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  60. —, andB. K. Yadav. 1983. Folk medicines of Kurukshetra District (Haryana), India. Economic Botany 37:299–305.Google Scholar
  61. Lentz, D. L. 1986. Ethnobotany of the Jicaque of Honduras. Economic Botany 40:210–219.Google Scholar
  62. — 1993. Medicinal and other economic plants of the Paya of Honduras. Economic Botany 47: 358–370.Google Scholar
  63. Lewis, W. H., andM. P. F. Elvin-Lewis. 1977. Medical botany: plants affecting man’s health. John Wiley and Sons, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  64. Loveland, F. O. 1975a. Snakebite cure among the Rama Indians of Nicaragua. Pages 81–102in H. Haley and F. Grollig, eds., Medical Anthropology. Mouton Publishers, The Hague.Google Scholar
  65. — 1975b. Dialectical aspects of natural symbols: order and disorder in Rama Indian cosmology. Ph.D. Dissertation, Duke University, Durham, NC.Google Scholar
  66. — 1976. Tapirs and manatees: cosmological categories and social process among Rama Indians of eastern Nicaragua. Pages 67–82in M. Helms and F. Loveland, eds., Frontier adaptations in Lower Central America. Institute for the Study of Human Issues, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  67. — 1982. Watch that pot or the Waksuk will eat you up: an analysis of male and female roles in Rama Indian myth. Pages 124–141in C. Loveland and F. Loveland, eds., Sex roles and social change. University of Illinois Press, Urbana, IL.Google Scholar
  68. Martínez, M. 1991. Catálogo de nombres vulgares y científicas de plantas mexicanas. Fondo de Cultura Economica. Mexico, D.F., Mexico.Google Scholar
  69. MINSA/RAAS (Ministerio de Salud/Region Autónoma Atlantico Sur). 1988. Rescate de la medicina popular en la Costa Atlántica. MINSA/RAAS, Bluefields, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  70. —. 1989. Análisis y evaluatión de la división de docencia e investigatión. MINSA/RAAS, Bluefields, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  71. —. 1990. Plan de docencia regional de salud 1990. MINSA/RAAS, Bluefields, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  72. Miranda, E. 1967. Folklore médico nicaragiüense. Editorial Hospicio, Leon, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  73. Moore, P. D. 1994. Trials in bad taste. Nature 370: 410–411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Morton, J. F. 1981. Atlas of medicinal plants of Middle America. Charles C. Thomas Publisher, Springfield, IL.Google Scholar
  75. — 1987. Fruits of warm climates. Media Incorporated, Greensboro, NC.Google Scholar
  76. Nietschmann, B. Q. 1969. The distribution of Miskito, Sumu, and Rama Indians, Eastern Nicaragua. Bulletin of the International Committee on Urgent Anthropological and Ethnological Research, No. 11, p. 91–102.Google Scholar
  77. —. 1972. Hunting and fishing focus among the Miskito Indians, Eastern Nicaragua. Journal of Human Ecology 1:41–67.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  78. — 1973. Between land and water: the subsistence ecology of the Miskito Indians, Eastern Nicaragua. Seminar Press, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  79. — 1979. Caribbean edge: the coming of modern times to isolated people and wildlife. Bobbs-Mer-rill, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  80. — 1990. Conservation by conflict in Nicaragua. Natural History, (September 1990):42–17. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  81. Peña Hernández, E. 1968. Folklore de Nicaragua. Editorial Unión, Masaya, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  82. Pijoan, M. 1944. The Miskito Indians: some remarks concerning their health and the lay health program. América Indígena 4:255–263.Google Scholar
  83. — 1946a. The health and customs of the Miskito Indians of northern Nicaragua: interrelationships in a medical program. América Indígena 6: 41–66.Google Scholar
  84. — 1946b. The health and customs of the Miskito Indians of northern Nicaragua: interrelationships in a medical program. América Indígena 6: 157–183.Google Scholar
  85. Raffauf, R. F. 1962. A simple field test for alkaloidcontaining plants. Economic Botany 16:171–172.Google Scholar
  86. Roberts, O. W. 1827. Narrative of voyages and excursions on the East Coast and the Interior of Central America. 1965 reprint, a facsimile of the 1827 edition. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, FL.Google Scholar
  87. Robinson, T. 1974. Metabolism and function of alkaloids in plants. Science 184:430–435.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Salas, J. B. 1981. Investigaciones sobre las plantas medicinales en el Departamento de Managua. Section de Ecología Forestal, IRENA, Managua, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  89. Schultes, R. E. 1988. Where the Gods reign: plants and peoples of the Colombian Amazon. Synergetic Press, Inc., Oracle, AZ.Google Scholar
  90. —, andF. Raffauf. 1990. The healing forest medicinal and toxic plants of the Northwest Amazonia. Dioscorides Press, Portland, OR.Google Scholar
  91. Smutko, G. 1985. La Mosquitia: historia y cultura de la Costa Atlántica. Editorial La Ocarina, Managua, Nicaragua.Google Scholar
  92. Stahl, E. 1969. Thin-layer chromatography: a laboratory handbook. Springer-Verlag, Berlin, Germany.Google Scholar
  93. Stermitz, F. R.,G. N. Belovsky,E. Ng, andM. C. Singer. 1989. Quinolizidine alkaloids obtained byPedicularis semibarbata (Scrophulariaceae) fromLupinus fulcratus (Leguminosae) fail to influence the specialist herbivoreEuphydryas editha (Lepi-doptera). Journal of Chemical Ecology 15:2521–2530.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  94. Sutton, S. Y. 1989. Floristic inventory of tropical countries. New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, NY.Google Scholar
  95. Taylor, D.M. 1951. The Black Carib of British Honduras. Viking Fund Publications in Anthropology No. 17. Wenner-Gren Foundation, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  96. Tyler, V. E.,L. R. Brady, andJ. E. Robbers. 1985. Pharmacognosy. Lea and Febiger, Philadelphia, PA.Google Scholar
  97. Uphof, J. C. Th. 1968. Dictionary of economic plants. Verlag Von J. Cramer, New York, NY.Google Scholar
  98. Vilas, C. M. 1989. State, class, and ethnicity in Nicaragua: capitalist modernization and revolutionary change on the Atlantic Coast. Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc., Boulder, CO.Google Scholar
  99. Weiss, E. A. 1979. Some indigenous plants used domestically by East African coastal fishermen. Economic Botany 33:35–51.Google Scholar
  100. Wenger, W. D. 1945. A study of the Ruth C. S. Thaeler Hospital. Bachelor of Divinity Thesis, School of History, Moravian Theological Seminary, Bethlehem, PA.Google Scholar
  101. Willaman, J. J., andB. G. Schubert. 1961. Alkaloid-bearing plants and their contained alkaloids. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Technical Bulletin No. 1234, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  102. —, andHui-Lin Li. 1970. Alkaloid-bearing plants and their contained alkaloids. Lloydia 33:1–286.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Felix G. Coe
    • 1
  • Gregory J. Anderson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of ConnecticutStorrs

Personalised recommendations