Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum Gaertn.) landraces cultivated by Yi people in Liangshan, China

  • Yingjie Song
  • Yumei Dong
  • Jing Wang
  • Jinchao FengEmail author
  • Chunlin LongEmail author
Research Article


The cultivation of Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricum Gaertn.) has a long history in Liangshan, China. Tartary buckwheat serves as a staple food for Yi people. Various ethnic culture, traditional knowledge and local seed systems contribute to maintaining the diversity of Tartary buckwheat landraces. Thirty-five villages in two counties were investigated, and one of the villages was selected for this case study. The landraces and local names, field management, associated rituals on festivals associated, and seed systems were investigated. Market surveys were also conducted. Thirteen Tartary buckwheat landraces were recorded with vernacular names. Folk nomenclature and taxonomy were mainly based on the seed shape, size, color and maturation period. Depending on their indigenous knowledge and experiences, the Yi people select multiple landraces for cultivation to cope with climate changes and different altitudes. Planting different Tartary buckwheat landraces also staggers the harvest, and meets different taste preferences. The Yi use various seed sources and traditional seed systems. In addition, Tartary buckwheat plays an important role in many Yi rituals in the study area. All landraces of Tartary buckwheat were made into the same simple product for the marketplaces due to inadequate understanding of their characteristics. This homogenization of Tartary buckwheat is not beneficial for the conservation of Tartary buckwheat landraces. Overall, local Yi people conserve Tartary buckwheat landraces and cultivate multiple landraces to maintain their diversity. The traditional knowledge, folk seed system and sociocultural norms contributed great influence on the diversity and on-farm conservation of Tartary buckwheat landraces.


Tartary buckwheat (Fagopyrum tataricumLandrace diversity Tradition knowledge Cultural uses 



Prof. Dr. Edward Kennelly from the Lehman College, City University of New York, USA, helped edit the English. Financial support for this study came from the National Nature Science Foundation of China (31761143001 & 31870316), Biodiversity Survey and Assessment Project of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China (2019HJ2096001006), Key Laboratory of Ethnomedicine (Minzu University of China) of Ministry of Education of China (KLEM-ZZ201906 & KLEM-ZZ201806), Minzu University of China (Collaborative Innovation Center for Ethnic Minority Development & yldxxk201819), Ministry of Education of China and State Administration of Foreign Experts Affairs of China (B08044). We are very grateful to the Yi people who provided valuable information, traditional knowledge and culture about Tartary buckwheat, and provided seed of Tartary buckwheat for experimental purposes.

Author contributions

JCF and CLL conceived this study. YJS carried out the field investigations, analyzed and interpreted the data, and drafted the manuscript. CLL, YMD and JW participated in the interviews and provided comments. LCL finalized the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Consent for publication

Subjects in Fig. 4 have provided permission for publication.


  1. Alexiades MN, Sheldon JW (1996) Selected guidelines for ethnobotanical research: A field manual. New York Bot Garden, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  2. Assogba P, Ewedje EEBK, Dansi A, Loko YL, Adjatin A, Dansi M, Sanni A (2015) Indigenous knowledge and agromorphological evaluation of the minor crop Kersting’s groundnut (Macrotyloma geocarpum (Harms) Maréchal et Baudet) cultivars of Benin. Genet Resour Crop Evol 63:513–529. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bao TN, Peng SL, Zhou ZZ, Li BG (2003) Chemical constituents of Fagopytum tataricum (Linn.) Gaertn. Nat Prod Res Dev 15:24–26Google Scholar
  4. Bellon MR (2009) Do we need crop landraces for the future? Realizing the global option value of in situ conservation. In: Kontoleon A, Pascual U, Smale M (eds) Agrobiodiversity and economic development. Routledge, New York, pp 51–59Google Scholar
  5. Bellon MR, Gotor E, Caracciolo F (2014) Conserving landraces and improving livelihoods: how to assess the success of on-farm conservation projects? Intl J Agr Sustainv 12:167–182. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bisht IS, Mehta PS, Bhandari DC (2007) Traditional crop diversity and its conservation on-farm for sustainable agricultural production in Kumaon Himalaya of Uttaranchal State: a case study. Genet Resour Crop Evol 54:345–357. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brenda BL (2011) Resilience in agriculture through crop diversification: adaptive management for environmental change. Bioscience 61(3):183–193. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brush SB (2004) Farmers’ bounty, Locating crop diversity in the contemporary world. Yale University, New HavenCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Campbell C (1997) Buckwheat, Fagopyrum esculentum Moench, Promoting the conservation and use of underutilized and neglected crops 19. Institute of Plant Genetics and Crop Plant Research, Gatersleben/International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, RomeGoogle Scholar
  10. Choi JY, Cho EJ, Lee HS, Yoon YH, Lee S (2012) Tartary buckwheat improves cognition and memory function in an in vivo amyloid-beta-induced Alzheimer model. Food Chem Toxicol 53:105–111. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Costantini L, Luksic L, Molinari R, Kreft I, Bonafaccia G, Manzi L, Merendino N (2014) Development of gluten-free bread using Tartary buckwheat and chia flour rich in flavonoids and omega-3 fatty acids as ingredients. Food Chem 165:232–240. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. Engels JMM, Dempewolf H, Henson-Apollonio V (2011) Ethical considerations in agro-biodiversity research, collecting, and use. J Agric Environ Ethics 24:107–126. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Folke C (2006) Resilience: the emergence of a perspective for socio-ecological system analysis. Global Environ Change 16:253–267. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gepts P (2006) Plant genetic resources conservation and utilization: the accomplishments and future of a societal insurance policy. Crop Sci 46:2278–2292CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Giménez-Bastid JA, Zielinski H, Piskula M, Zielinska D, Szawara-Nowak D (2016) Buckwheat bioactive compounds, their derived phenolic metabolites and their health benefits. Mol Nutr Food Res 61(7):1600475. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Guo XN, Yao HY (2010) Anti-proliferative effect of Tartary buckwheat protein fraction TBWSP31 on breast cancer cells. Food Sci 31:317–320Google Scholar
  17. Guo XD, Ma YJ, Parry J, Gao JM, Yu LL, Wang M (2011) Phenolics content and antioxidant activity of Tartary buckwheat from different locations. Molecules 16:9850–9867. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  18. Hu YY, Zhao Y, Ren DY, Guo JJ, Luo YY, Yang XB (2015) Hypoglycemic and hepatoprotective effects of D-chiro-inositol-enriched Tartary buckwheat extract in high fructose-fed mice. Food Funct 6:3760–3769. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. Jackson LE, Pascual U, Hodgkin T (2007) Utilizing and conserving agrobiodiversity in agricultural landscapes. Agric Ecosyst Environ 121(3):196–210. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Jarvis DI (1993) Pollen evidence of changing Holocene monsoon climate in Sichuan Province, China. Quat Res 39:325–337. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Jarvis DI, Hodgkin T, Sthapit B, Fadda C, Lopez-Noreiga I (2011) An heuristic framework for identifying multiple ways of supporting the conservation and use of traditional crop varieties within the agricultural production system. Crit Rev Plant Sci 30:125–176. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jones MK, Liu XY (2009) Origins of agriculture in East Asia. Science 324:730. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  23. Kawa JM, Taylor CG, Przybylski R (2003) Buckwheat concentrate reduces serum glucose in streptozotocin-diabetic rats. J Agric Food Chem 51:7287–7291. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  24. Kuwabara T, Han KH, Hashimoto N, Yamauchi H, Shimada KI, Sekikawa M, Fukushima M (2007) Tartary buckwheat sprout powder lowers plasma cholesterol level in rats. J Nutr Sci Vitaminol 53:501–507. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Lee JM, Lee KH, Yoon YH, Cho EJ, Lee S (2013) Identification of triterpenoids and flavonoids from the seeds of Tartary buckwheat. Nat Prod Sci 19:137–144Google Scholar
  26. Li SK (1996) Buckwheat and Yi people folk customs. Agric Cult Res 1:134–135Google Scholar
  27. Loko LEY, Toffa J, Adjatin A, Akpo AJ, Orobiyi A, Dansi A (2018) Folk taxonomy and traditional use of common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris L.) landraces by the sociolinguistic groups in the central region of the Republic of Benin. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 14:52. CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. Lotti A (2010) The commoditization of products and taste: slow food and the conservation of agrobiodiversity. Agric Hum Values 27:71–83. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Lu BR (1998) Diversity of rice genetic resources and its utilization and conservation. Chin Biodivers 6(1):63–72Google Scholar
  30. Maffi L (2005) Linguistic, cultural and biological diversity. Ann Rev Anthropol 29:599–617. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mauricio RB, Elisabetta G, Francesco C (2014) Conservation landraces and improving livelihoods: how to assess the success of on-farm conservation projects? Int J Agric Sustain 12:167–182. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Nautiyal S, Bisht V, Rao KS, Maikhuri RK (2008) The role of cultural values in agrobiodiversity conservation: a case study from Uttarakhand. Himalaya. J Hum Ecol 23(1):1–6. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Negi VS, Maikhuri RK (2013) Socio-ecological and religious perspective of agrobiodiversity conservation: issues, concern and priority for sustainable agriculture, Central Himalaya. J Agric Environ Ethics 26:491–512. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Ohnishi O (2016) Discovery of new Fagopyrum species and its implication for the studies of evolution of Fagopyrum and of the origin of cultivated buckwheat. In: Matano T, Ujihara A (eds) Current Advances in Buckwheat Research, vol I–III. Shinshu University Press, Nagano, pp 75–190Google Scholar
  35. Olango TM, Tesfaye B, Catellani M, Pè ME (2014) Indigenous knowledge, use and on-farm management of enset (Ensete ventricosum (Welw) Cheesman) diversity in Wolaita. Southern Ethiopia. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 10:41. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  36. Pan SJ, Chen QF (2010) Genetic mapping of common buckwheat using DNA protein and morphological markers. Hereditas 147:27–33. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. Perfecto I, Vandermeer J (2010) The agroecological matrix as alternative to the landsparing/agriculture intensification model. PNAS 107(13):5786–5791. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  38. Pressior G, Berthaud J (2004) Patterns of population structure in maize landraces from the Central Valleys of Oaxaca in Mexico. Heredity 92:88–94. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pu TJ (1996) Bi religion of Yi people. J Yunnan Univ Natl 3:66–72Google Scholar
  40. Rengalakshmi R (2005) Folk biological classification of minor millet species in Kolli Hills. India. J Ethnobiol 25(1):59–70.;2 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Saxena VK, Samaiya GC (1987) A new flavonoid from Fagopyrum tataricum. Fitoterapia 58:283Google Scholar
  42. Shen S, Wilkes A, Qian J, Yin L, Ren JA, Zhang FD (2010) Agrobiodiversity and biocultural heritage in the Dulong valley, China. Mount Res Develop 30:205–211. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Shepherd CJ (2010) Mobilizing local knowledge and asserting culture: the cultural politics of in situ conservation of agricultural biodiversity. Curr Anthropol 51:629–654. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Thomas M, Dawson JC, Goldringer I, Bonneuil C (2011) Seed exchanges, a key to analyze crop diversity dynamics in farmer-led on-farm conservation. Genet Resour Crop Evol 58:321–338. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Van de WM, Kik C, Van HT, Van TR, Visser B (2010) Genetic erosion in crops: concepts, research results and challenges. Plant Genet Resour-C 8:1–15. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Wang H, Chen RF, Takashi L, Shen RF, Ma JF (2015) Physiological characterization of aluminum tolerance and accumulation in tartary and wild buckwheat. New Phytol 205:273–279. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  47. Westengen OT et al (2014) Ethnolinguistic structuring of sorghum genetic diversity in Africa and the role of local seed systems. PNAS 111(39):14100–14105. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  48. Yang H, Yu HM (2004) The agricultural biodiversity and it protection in Liangshan area. J Xichang Teach Coll 3(16):135–138. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Zeven A (1998) Landraces: a review of definitions and classification. Euphytica 104:127–139CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Zheng CJ, Hu CL, Ma XQ, Peng C, Zhang H, Qin LP (2012) Cytotoxic phenylpropanoid glycosides from Fagopyrum tataricum (L.) Gaertn. Food Chem 132:433–438. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  51. Zhu F (2016) Chemical composition and health effects of Tartary buckwheat. Food Chem 203:231–245. CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  52. Zimmer KS (2010) Biological diversity in agriculture and global change. Annu Rev Environ Resour 35:137–166. CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life and Environmental SciencesMinzu University of ChinaBeijingChina
  2. 2.Dian-Tai Engineering Research Center for Characteristic Agriculture Industrialization of YunnanYunnan Agricultural UniversityKunmingChina
  3. 3.School of Architecture and Civil EngineeringChengdu UniversityChengduChina
  4. 4.Kunming Institute of BotanyChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina

Personalised recommendations