Economic Botany

, Volume 68, Issue 2, pp 137–152 | Cite as

Comparing Medicinal Uses of Eggplant and Related Solanaceae in China, India, and the Philippines Suggests the Independent Development of Uses, Cultural Diffusion, and Recent Species Substitutions

  • Rachel S. Meyer
  • Maryam Bamshad
  • Dorian Q. Fuller
  • Amy Litt

Comparing Medicinal Uses of Eggplant and Related Solanaceae in China, India, and the Philippines Suggests the Independent Development of Uses, Cultural Diffusion, and Recent Species Substitutions

Comparing Medicinal Uses of Eggplant and Related Solanaceae in China, India, and the Philippines Suggests the Independent Development of Uses, Cultural Diffusion, and Recent Species Substitutions. The ways in which geographically separate communities use crops reflect the agricultural and cultural influences on each community. The eggplant (Solanum melongena L.; Solanaceae), which was domesticated in South and Southeast Asia, has long been used in a variety of medicinal and culinary preparations across many different Asian ethnolinguistic groups. Here, we report the total uses for eggplant and sixteen related species in three regions, India, southern China, and Malesia, and conduct a comparative analysis in order to form hypotheses about how influences on plant use in one region could have affected use and evolutionary trajectories in other regions. Results from literature review and 101 interviews show a total of 77 medicinal attributes for eggplant, with few similar attributes mentioned in different regions, leading us to hypothesize that largely pristine (i.e., without influence from other regions) development of uses, which could serve as selection pressures, occurred for eggplant in India, southern China, and Malesia. Results also show that many Solanum species have been fluidly adopted into uses developed for other species in a single region.

Key Words

Philippine herbal medicine Ayurveda Traditional Chinese Medicine crop domestication food useful plants nightshades human migration artificial selection species substitution ethnobotany 

Supplementary material

12231_2014_9267_MOESM1_ESM.docx (764 kb)
Appendix 1Table of medicinal attributes of sixteen Solanum species from total evidence of interviews. Mention of at least one attribute in a source was marked with a +. (DOCX 763 kb)
12231_2014_9267_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (54 kb)
Appendix 2Table of eggplant medicinal attributes from total evidence of interviews, literature, and websites. Red + were only mentioned by a single informant or from a single written source. Black + were mentioned in multiple sources. (PDF 53 kb)
12231_2014_9267_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (58 kb)
Appendix 3Table of eggplant medicinal attributes from literature and websites only. Numbers in red were only listed in a single source, and numbers in black were listed in multiple sources. (PDF 57 kb)

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Copyright information

© The New York Botanical Garden 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rachel S. Meyer
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Maryam Bamshad
    • 3
  • Dorian Q. Fuller
    • 4
  • Amy Litt
    • 1
  1. 1.Genomics ProgramThe New York Botanical GardenBronxUSA
  2. 2.The Graduate School and University CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biological Sciences, Lehman College and The Graduate CenterCity University of New YorkBronxUSA
  4. 4.Institute of ArchaeologyUniversity College LondonLondonUK
  5. 5.Department of BiologyNew York UniversityNew YorkUSA

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