Local knowledge of medicinal plants and wild food plants among Tatars and Romanians in Dobruja (South-East Romania)

Abstract

Ethnobiological studies in South-Eastern Europe are gaining the interest of scholars and stakeholders, given that they are increasingly considered crucial for the evaluation and valorisation of local bio-cultural heritage. An ethnobotanical survey focusing on local wild food and wild and non-wild medicinal plant uses was conducted in six villages of Dobruja, Eastern Romania, among 44 elderly participants belonging to Tatar and Romanian communities. We recorded and identified 77 plant taxa, corresponding to 93 plant (use) reports. Only approximately half of the plants and one-third of the plant reports were common to both Tatars and Romanians. This demonstrates that the ethnobotanies of the two communities have remained somewhat different, despite the common history that these communities have shared over many centuries within the same social and environmental space. This finding can be explained by their different religious affiliations (Romanians are Orthodox, while Tatars are Muslims), which has limited intermarriages and relevant exchanges of knowledge, practices, and beliefs related to plants. In particular, nettle (Urtica dioica) is quite commonly used for food by Romanians, but is ignored by Tatars. Our study may be of interest to rural development programs aimed at fostering community-based management strategies of natural resources, as well as ecological and gastronomic tourism.

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Acknowledgments

Special thanks are due to all the study participants, who generously shared their knowledge regarding local plants and provided marvellous hospitality. A minor part of the fieldwork was conducted with the financial support of the University of Gastronomic Sciences (to AP).

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Correspondence to Andrea Pieroni.

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Pieroni, A., Nedelcheva, A. & Dogan, Y. Local knowledge of medicinal plants and wild food plants among Tatars and Romanians in Dobruja (South-East Romania). Genet Resour Crop Evol 62, 605–620 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10722-014-0185-3

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Keywords

  • Ethnobotany
  • Dobruja
  • Romania
  • Tatars
  • Romanians