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Ethnobotanical Applications

The applications of ethnobotany are varied. Given & Harris (1994) describe three project applications:

  1. Rescue Mission: when cultures are either extinct, or undergoing rapid change, so that a significant proportion of ethnobotanical knowledge will be lost unless systematically recorded;
  2. Industrial Investigation: looking for plants which can be developed commercially;
  3. Cultural Enhancement: looking at ways to revive or strengthen traditional uses. Martin (1995) adds a fourth application: that of the qualitative evaluation of the use and management of botanical resources. None of these categories are exclusive and an applied ethnobotanical project is often a mixture of several, determined by its objectives and the locality in which it is carried out.

Contribution of Ethnobotany in Socio-Economy

Economic botanists can utilize ethnobotanical data to discover new plant resources, to provide fresh ideas for environment planners, as a tool for basic selection of plant species for development of drugs by pharmacologists, phytochemists and clinicians, as a new source of history through the study of plant names by linguists, as a source for locating new germplasm for agriculturists.

In the last century the dynamic science of ethnobotany has emerged as a powerful force for the preservation and revitalization of indigenous cultures through the study of their essential relationship with the plant kingdom (Schultes 1994).

Ethnopharmacology have contributed to the development of modern synthetic drugs and medicine in a number of ways stated below:

  • Origin, evolution and migration of several ethnic communities can be known by ethnobotany.
  • It provides systemic recording and documentation of indigenous knowledge of plant use in relation with culture before their extinction.
  • It helps to find out new useful plant resource for various purposes and their proper domestication.
  • The recent increase in the manufacture of herbal drugs has created a large demand for medicinal plants” (Balick 1994). So, it plays an important role in the establishment of pharmaceutical industries and identifying new and alternative drug.
  • The geographical distribution of plant community can be investigated through ethnobotany.
  • Documentation of indigenous technology and management system for preservation of plant resources.
  • Novel structures of biologically active compounds, isolated from plant sources, often promote the chemist to synthesis better semi synthetic compounds.
  • Synthetic drugs with similar or more potent therapeutic activity are often prepared by structural modification of the plant derived compounds with known biological activity.

The tribal and rural people live in the area where plants are naturally growing. They have remarkable knowledge of plant use growing around them. They know the usefulness of this plant their livelihood depends on plant availability and their knowledge which they gathered from their previous generation.


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