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Ethnobotanical study and traditional use of autochthonous pear varieties (Pyrus communis L.) in southwest Serbia (Polimlje)

Abstract

This work represents an ethnobotanical and ethnomedicinal study focused on recording autochthonous pear varieties of the Polimlje region in southwest Serbia. The purpose of the study was to highlight genetic resources of pear varieties in situ and emphasize aspects of ethnodiversity and traditional knowledge. A special feature of the research area is the great diversity of indigenous varieties of pear, which have been cultivated for hundreds of years. Forty-six respondents from 25 to 78 years of age residing in 23 villages were interviewed, and 26 autochthonous pear varieties were recorded in the field. Among them 11.5% are widely available, 26.9% are rare, and 61.5% are very rare. For ethnomedicinal purposes, pear is used as a remedy against hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and constipation; for reduction of body mass; as a uroseptic and/or an antirheumatic; and for cancer prevention. Pears are consumed as fresh fruit and in numerous food products. Depopulation of the investigated rural area is directly responsible for depletion of the gene pool of pear varieties and for loss of traditional knowledge. Preservation can be achieved by in situ methods such as raising awareness of the local inhabitants and ensuring support of the State.

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Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Bora Milićević for drawings of Pyrus varieties. They are also grateful to Mr. Raymond Dooley for proofreading the text and improving the English. This work was supported by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development of Serbia (Grants 173018, 173029, TR 31005).

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Correspondence to Aleksandra Savić.

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The ethnobotanical research “Ethnobotanical study and traditional use of autochthonous pear varieties (Pyrus communis L.) in Southwest Serbia (Polimlje)” and related activities, including collecting of plants, compiling databases, images, data recordings, gathering information on the uses of traditional knowledge or other elements of biocultural heritage found in the study area, were undertaken in compliance with the ISE Code of Ethics (http://ethnobiology.net/code-of-ethics/).

No harmful consequences (biological or cultural) for the local people and local communities arose from this research and its related activities. Each information has been recorded with the approval of the informants. During research, all principles of the Code of Ethics were adhered to including intellectual property rights and support to the development of local people’s cultures.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the research “Ethnobotanical study and traditional use of autochthonous pear varieties (Pyrus communis L.) in Southwest Serbia (Polimlje)”. Each information has been recorded with the approval of the informants.

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Savić, A., Jarić, S., Dajić-Stevanović, Z. et al. Ethnobotanical study and traditional use of autochthonous pear varieties (Pyrus communis L.) in southwest Serbia (Polimlje). Genet Resour Crop Evol 66, 589–609 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10722-018-00734-w

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Keywords

  • Diversity of pear varieties
  • Ethnobotany
  • Ethnomedicine
  • Traditional knowledge