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Local plant resources in the ethnobotany of Theth, a village in the Northern Albanian Alps

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An ethnobotanical field study was carried out in one of the most remote and poorest areas of Europe: the village of Theth, which is located in the upper Shala Valley in the Northern Albanian Alps. In this study, seventy-nine botanical taxa known and used by the local population were recorded in interviews with thirty-two informants. Among the local food species recorded, the most highly sought after were Prunus cerasifera Ehrh. and Cornus mas L. fruits, which are used for producing home-made raki. A few elderly women in the village still gather wild greens (Urtica, Chenopodium, Amaranthus, and Rumex species), which are used as fillings for home-made pies (byrekë and laknur). Diverse vegetables (cabbage, turnips, tomatoes, peppers, and egg plants) are cultivated and harvested in spring and summer, and are conserved mainly via lacto-fermentation for consumption during the winter. Despite an almost total lack of medical assistance, the villagers of Theth gather only a few medicinal herbs on a regular basis, which they use internally to treat diverse minor ailments. These include the aerial parts of Origanum vulgare L., Hypericum maculatum Crantz, Agrimonia eupatoria L., and the roots of Gentiana lutea L. The findings from this field study could eventually stimulate sustainable plant gathering and harvesting activities in Theth for small-scale trade of a few food, medicinal, and handicraft products.

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Special thanks are due to all the inhabitants of Theth, whose kind hospitality will be never forgotten; to Prek Harusha (the head of village of Theth) and his family for their wonderful field assistance; to Gjorgj Kurti (Shkodër), for the simultaneous translations; to Marash Djegsina, our very competent guide on the ride across the most isolated Alpine chains between Albania and Montenegro; to Antonia Young (albanologist, University of Bradford) for her logistic support, her excellent analysis of Northern Albania culture, and the many long and fruitful discussions we had together; and to Lindsay Lyons, for editing a previous version of this manuscript.

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Correspondence to Andrea Pieroni.

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Pieroni, A. Local plant resources in the ethnobotany of Theth, a village in the Northern Albanian Alps. Genet Resour Crop Evol 55, 1197–1214 (2008).

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