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Traditional knowledge of wild edible plants used in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal): a comparative study

AuthorsPardo de Santayana, Manuel; Tardío, Javier; Blanco, Emilio; Carvalho, Ana María; Lastra, Juan José; San Miguel, Elia; Morales Valverde, Ramón CSIC ORCID
KeywordsWild edible plants
Iberian Peninsula
Issue Date7-Jun-2007
PublisherBioMed Central
CitationJ Ethnobiol Ethnomedicine. 2007; 3: 27.
AbstractWe compare traditional knowledge and use of wild edible plants in six rural regions of the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula as follows: Campoo, Picos de Europa, Piloña, Sanabria and Caurel in Spain and Parque Natural de Montesinho in Portugal. Methods:Data on the use of 97 species were collected through informed consent semi-structured interviews with local informants. A semi-quantitative approach was used to document the relative importance of each species and to indicate differences in selection criteria for consuming wild food species in the regions studied. Results and discussion: The most significant species include many wild berries and nuts (e.g. Castanea sativa, Rubus ulmifolius, Fragaria vesca) and the most popular species in each food-category (e.g. fruits or herbs used to prepare liqueurs such as Prunus spinosa, vegetables such as Rumex acetosa, condiments such as Origanum vulgare, or plants used to prepare herbal teas such as Chamaemelum nobile). The most important species in the study area as a whole are consumed at five or all six of the survey sites. Conclusion: Social, economic and cultural factors, such as poor communications, fads and direct contact with nature in everyday life should be taken into account in determining why some wild foods and traditional vegetables have been consumed, but others not. They may be even more important than biological factors such as richness and abundance of wild edible flora. Although most are no longer consumed, demand is growing for those regarded as local specialties that reflect regional identity.
DescriptionWe are grateful to everyone who kindly shared their knowledge and time. We hope to have contributed to saving and spreading their valuable knowledge. We also thank the Spanish Ministry of Science and Education for the grants made to Elia San Miguel and Manuel Pardo-de-Santayana, Los Picos de Europa National Park, the Leader Project of the European Commission for funding the field work done in Picos de Europa and Sanabria. Thanks also to the Portuguese Ministry of Science and Education and the Portuguese Foundation for Science and Technology for the grant to Ana Maria Carvalho and for funding the field work, to Laura Aceituno, Susana González and Lesley Ashcroft for their input, and to Gonzalo Gómez Casares for providing many information about plant uses in Picos de Europa.
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