Amazon.co.uk Widgets Blog - Emma the Gardener

Coconut: Nose to Tail

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Coconut: Nose to Tail from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.


In Sri Lanka, the coconut is, in a sense, a source of life. Not only it is the main ingredient in most Sri Lankan dishes, but it also plays a major role in many non-culinary parts of every day life. Without the coconut, things in Sri Lanka would be very different. Filmmakers spent the day with a family of 8 on their modest coconut plantation outside of Negombo, to see what the coconut has to offer.

Posted in Blog on Apr 17, 2014 ·

Last modified on Apr 14, 2014

Tag: ethnobotany

March Berry-go-round: Unusual edible plants

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Welcome to the March edition of the Berry-go-round, a blog carnival devoted to all that’s wonderful and intriguing about Earth’s flora. This month I set a theme of “Unusual Edible Plants”, and bloggers from far and wide duly rose to the challenge.


Tamarisk Tree
Tamarisk Tree, by Robert Wallace, on Flickr

Gravity’s Rainbow took the opportunity to bring our attention to a post from the archives. Invasive species – making the best of a bad situation raises an important issue. What do we do about introduced species that turn out to be invasive in their new environment? Control of these species is often a costly, and largely impossible, task. Perhaps putting them to good use would be a better use of our resources?





Licorice seedlings, from tangent ramblings

The licorice seedlings Jeanette from tangent ramblings is growing with Aspirations of a licorice harvest are unlikely to cause any weed problems – the roots will be far too tasty to leave in the ground. And what is Jeanette planning on doing with the resulting bounty? Brewing licorice beer!


Quercus agrifolia
Coast Live Oak, by Eric Hunt, on Flickr

If brewing your own licorice beer from scratch sounds like hard work, then you’re going to be exhausted just reading about how to make acorn atole, over at In the Company of Plants and Rocks. The title spells it out: Acorn atole – not a convenience food. But acorn flour was a staple food of Native Americans in California, when they had no option but to grind, leech and bake their acorn harvest by hand. The result was a highly nutritious, and long-storing food. These days it’s only made for special occasions, even though modern technology makes the process much easier.





Ackee fruit by Loren Sztajer (CC BY-ND 2.0)

It’s the presence of tannins that makes the process of processing acorns so laborious. The ackee fruit brings food preparation to a whole new level – as Nature’s Poisons points out, ackee fruit are both deadly and delicious. A native of West Africa, ackee was brought to the Caribbean in the 18th century, and now forms one half of Jamaica’s famous ackee and saltfish dish.

Only the fleshy arilli are eaten, with the rest of the fruit discarded. Even then, you’re not entirely safe – the flesh is poisonous unless completely ripe, and the US bans importation of fresh ackee in the hope of avoiding poisoning cases.


Muskatnuss / nutmeg / noix de muscade /
Nutmeg, by Carmen Eisbär, on Flickr

You may be wondering why people go to such lengths to eat potentially poisonous foods, but in all likelihood you have one or two kicking around in your kitchen at home. Compound Interest has done a lovely article on the hallucinogen in your kitchen – the chemistry of nutmeg this month. Although nutmeg does get some attention as a possible “legal high”, ingesting more than a couple of muffin’s worth in one go is probably a bad idea, and Compound Interest tells us why.





Andean Roots, from Radix

As this month’s Berry-go-round has largely been a round-up of the time consuming and terrifying aspects of unusual plants, I’m going to end on a happier note :)

The wondrous Radix blog, home of the internet’s resident expert on all aspects of edible buried treasure, has recently celebrated its fifth birthday. As a special treat for us, Rhizowen wrote up a summary of everything his root crop research and ruminations have produced so far, in Radix: Alive at Five. Oca, mauka, ulluco and ahipa are just some of the unusual underground edibles he covers.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s round-up of planty goodness. Keep an eye on the Berry-go-round blog to find out where we’re headed next month :)

Posted in Blog on Mar 31, 2014 ·

Tags: ethnobotany & unusual.

2014: Citizen Science

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Horse chestnut candle

Towards the end of last month, citizen science made the news when the findings of the Conker Tree Science Project were published (e.g. by BBC News). The project used reports from the public to track the spread and establishment of the horse chestnut leaf miner across the UK (pretty much everywhere south of Newcastle). The findings have been published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, as befits proper science (as The Success of the Horse-Chestnut Leaf-Miner, Cameraria ohridella, in the UK Revealed with Hypothesis-Led Citizen Science).

The growth of social media and the development of internet tools to handle these kinds of projects means that there are now more options for the citizen scientist than ever before, and the properly-published results show that citizen scientists are making a real contribution. So if you’d like to try your hand, here are some of the projects you might like to get involved with:

The Harlequin Ladybird Survey is tracking the spread of another invasive pest, one that has the potential to out-compete our native ladybird species.

OPAL is the Open Air Laboratories Network, which aims to “create and inspire a new generation of nature-lovers by getting people to explore, study, enjoy and protect their local environment”. Their website shows that they have quite a few surveys open at the moment, including tree health, biodiversity and soil and earthworms.

The Zooniverse is a big citizen science site with lots of projects. They started out with Galaxy Zoo, using pictures from the Hubble Telescope to investigate how galaxies form. They’ve added in several more astronomy projects, including looking at solar flares and exploring Mars’ weather, but they’ve expanded into other areas of science as well. You could look through historic ship’s logs, to find information that can be used to develop climate models, or classify NOAA’s more modern data on tropical cyclones. Study the lives of the ancient Greeks, or annotate and tag soldiers’ diaries from the first world war.

For the citizen naturalist, Zooniverse has options to listen to whales communicating, classify the Serengeti animals photographed by camera traps or explore the ocean floor. There are museum samples that need transcribing for historical biodiversity data – including herbarium samples in Notes from Nature.

That’s not the only option if you like looking through old herbarium records – Herbarium@Home could use your help with that as well.

Green-fingered gardeners can take part in Garden Organic’s Members Experiments (although there’s a clue in the name – you do have to be a GO member). There’s usually several to choose from each year. Previous ones that I know about include growing chickpeas, mango ginger and soy beans here in the UK, and finding out which flowers attract beneficial insects into the garden.

There are bound to be more projects that I don’t know about, and I’m sure there are some great local efforts as well – if you’re involved in a citizen science project then do let me know in the comments. Whether you get involved because it’s a cause you want to support, or because you have some spare time to donate, or because you just #lovescience and want to be a part of it, there’s plenty to choose from, and citizen science can be really rewarding!

Posted in Blog on Feb 14, 2014 ·

Tags: science & ethnobotany.

What does it mean to say that an aphrodisiac plant is effective? Part 2 of 2

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This is the second half of an essay I wrote for my Masters degree in ethnobotany. You can find part one here.

Pheonix reclinata

Why do people use herbal aphrodisiacs?

Given that Western medicine does not regard aphrodisiac plants as effective, why do people continue to use them? Kilham states that accounts of the effects of aphrodisiac plants have been passed down through generations, and across cultural borders. With no motivation to pass on misinformation in the long-term, he believes that people are merely passing on information that will help others – i.e. that people pass on information about aphrodisiac plants purely because they have found those plants to be effective.

de Albuquerque puts forward a diversification hypothesis that ‘exotic’ plants are added to traditional pharmacopeia because they contain bioactive secondary metabolites that are missing from local flora – i.e. that these plants are used to treat diseases because they are effective in doing so.

Access to Western medicine is not widespread – the World Health Organisation estimates that 80% of people in developing countries depend on traditional medicines for their primary health care. This can be due to prohibitive cost or a lack of Western medical facilities; there may also be local beliefs that herbal medicines are safer than Western medicines.

Even amongst populations that have access to Western medicines, it is rare for a patient to seek help for erectile dysfunction – Nehra estimates that only 10% seek treatment, and that the reasons for this involve an acceptance that sexual function diminishes with age, but that there are also issues with the complex nature of sexuality, taboos and cultural restrictions.

Aphrodisiacs in a cultural context

It is impossible to deny that there is a strong cultural aspect to aphrodisiac use. For example, those familiar with Western cultures will no doubt have been regaled with anecdotes of sexual conquests and even conception facilitated by the consumption of alcohol. Alcohol could therefore be considered to be an aphrodisiac, although its nature as a sedative means that its main action is probably to reduce inhibitions. Indeed, over-consumption makes it an anaphrodisiac, reducing potency (a well-known fact immortalised in British English by the use of the phrase ‘Brewer’s Droop’).

Research suggests that the belief that alcohol has aphrodisiac effects persists, despite scientific evidence to the contrary, and that this belief is due to the psychosocial effects of learned cognitive expectations and social meanings.

Thus it is possible that the cultural aspects of aphrodisiac use follow a similar pattern to that observed in psychoactive drug use by Becker. Becker’s observation was that drug users have to go through three stages – learning the techniques (preparation, application, etc.), learning to perceive the effects of the drugs and then learning to enjoy those effects. Outside a culture (or subsculture) where the (initially unpleasant) effects of the drugs are considered to be pleasurable, psychoactive drug use is shunned.

Spanish Fly (Cantharides or Cantharidin) is an aphrodisiac produced from dried beetles. It irritates the urogenital tract and causes a rush of blood to the genitals. Although this last effect may be the one hoped for, Spanish Fly is a poison and its side effects include burning of the throat, genitourinary infections and even death. It is hard to see how first-time users would perceive it as effective and pleasurable, and hence continue to use it, without the kind of cultural expectations that Becker describes.

The prescription and application of aphrodisiacs may also be ritualised, as part of a larger medical tradition in which ritual is as important a part of a cure as the plants themselves. Herbal remedies (like pharmaceutical drugs) require culture-specific processing. Their effectiveness may depend on the timing of plant collecting activities, processing and spells and charms. These cultural aspects shape medical practice. For example, there is widespread mention throughout historical records and folklore of aphrodisiacs being used to promote fertility, especially during wedding rituals.

A natural drive

Sexual activity is a normal part of the human experience, and Steels notes that sexual satisfaction is associated with a higher quality of life. As well as providing pleasure, it can bolster self-esteem, foster intimacy and reduce stress. However, there are numerous factors that can affect libido, including psychological issues, physiological problems and medications.

Beyond these effects on the obvious stages of sexual function, there is evidence to show that modern life is affecting fertility, with sperm counts declining over the last fifty years and causing a corresponding rise in male infertility. A problem with an aspect of sexual ability has an array of personal, social and biological consequences. Sexual problems can lead to misery and silent suffering, problematic interpersonal relationships and even divorce.

Even Western medicine is beginning to consider these wider aspects when looking at the treatment of sexual problems – as McKay notes, there is a move towards a more holistic view of male sexual well-being that is reminiscent of the holistic style of treatments more familiar in traditional medical systems.

Conclusion

Aphrodisiacs have been used for millennia, to enhance sexual pleasure and potency or fertility. Over time, substances believed to have aphrodisiac effects have appeared in and disappeared from medical systems as understandings about the body and the nature of disease have changed. (Few people now, for example, would consider taking Radithor – a pharmaceutical aphrodisiac based on Radium and reported to have caused at least one death from radiation poisoning!)

The Western medical system has scientific rules on when aphrodisiac substances (and all other medications) can be claimed to be effective, which rely on empirical evidence gained through an application of the scientific method. However, the modernist paradigm and its promotion of scientism has led to traditional medical systems and their long use of aphrodisiac plants being dismissed or denied.

Sexual satisfaction (and, when culturally appropriate, fertility) are an important part of the human experience and it is therefore understandable that humans throughout history have sought remedies that will help them to respond to their natural urges and bolster their self-esteem in societies that place a high value on potency and fertility.

By looking at aphrodisiacs in their cultural context, I have shown that their use has effects beyond the mere physical and bioactive, and that their continued use in itself is proof of their effectiveness in this wider sense. Aphrodisiacs clearly answer a larger cultural need, and in this sense they are effective; for the Western medical system to disparage them on the basis of a very narrow scientific viewpoint is a relic of the modernist paradigm and its refusal to accept the value of traditional knowledge without it first being ‘validated’ by clinical evidence.

What does it mean to say that an aphrodisiac is effective? It means that, when taken in the right cultural context, a substance produces the expected physical or emotional effect – whether via a recognisable bioactive compound or a more general improvement that allows an individual to achieve sexual satisfaction and the corresponding positive change to their well-being.

References
Adams, S. (2013) Brewer’s droop’ can hang around for months [Online]. The Telegraph. Available from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/9812293/Brewers-droop-can-hang-around-for-months.html [Accessed 3rd February 2012].

Becker, H. S. (1953). Becoming a marihuana user. American Journal of Sociology, 59(3): 235-242.

de Albuquerque, U. P. (2006). Re-examining Hypotheses Concerning the Use and Knowledge of Medicinal Plants: A Study in the Caatinga Vegetation of NEBrazil. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine, 2(30).

Gawin, F.H. (1978). Pharmacological enhancement of the erotic: Implications of an expanded definition of aphrodisiacs. Journal of Sex Research, 14(2): 107-117.

Harvey, S. M., & Beckman, L. J. (1986). Alcohol consumption, female sexual behavior and contraceptive use. Abstract. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 47(04), 327.

Hsu, E., & Harris, S. (2010). Plants, Health and Healing: On the Interface of Ethnobotany and Medical Anthropology (Vol. 6). Berghahn Books.

Kilham, C. (2004). Hot Plants: Nature’s Proven Sex Boosters for Men and Women. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin.

Lang, A. R. (1985). The social psychology of drinking and human sexuality. Abstract. Journal of Drug Issues, 15(2):273:289.

Macklis, R. M., Bellerive, M. R., & Humm, J. L. (1990). The radiotoxicology of radithor. Abstract. JAMA: The Journal of the American Medical Association, 264(5), 619-621.

McKay, D. (2004). Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence. Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic, 9(1): 4-16.

Nehra, A., Kulaksizoglu, H. (2002) Global perspectives and controversies in the epidemiology of male erectile dysfunction. Abstract. Current Opinion in Urology, 12(6):493-496.

Nordenberg, T. (1996). US FDA, Looking for a Libido Lift? The Facts About Aphrodisiacs [Online]. Available from http://web.archive.org/web/20050215091653/http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/196_love.html [Accessed 29th January 2013].

Olayemi, F. O. (2012). review on some causes of male infertility. African Journal of Biotechnology, 9(20).

Pandey, M. R. (2006). Use of medicinal plants in traditional Tibetan therapy system in upper Mustang, Nepal. Our Nature, 4(1): 69-82.

Postman, J. (2009). Cydonia oblonga: The Unappreciated Quince. Arnoldia, 67(1), 2-9.

Rodrigues, E., & Carlini, E. A. (2005). Ritual use of plants with possible action on the central nervous system by the Krahô Indians, Brazil. Phytotherapy Research, 19(2), 129-135.

Steels, E., Rao, A., & Vitetta, L. (2011). Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum‐graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation. Phytotherapy Research, 25(9), 1294-1300.

Tharakan, B., & Manyam, B. V. (2005). Botanical therapies in sexual dysfunction. Phytotherapy research, 19(6): 457-463.

van Andel, T., Mitchell, S., Volpato, G., et al (2012). In search of the perfect Aphrodisiac: Parallel use of bitter Tonics in West Africa and the Caribbean. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 143(3): 840-850.

Waldstein, A. (2006). Mexican migrant ethnopharmacology: pharmacopoeia, classification of medicines and explanations of efficacy. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 108(2), 299-310.

Wani, J. A., Achur, R. N., & Nema, R. K. (2011). Phytochemical screening and aphrodisiac activity of Asparagus racemosus. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Drug Research, 3(2): 112-115.

Posted in Blog on Feb 13, 2014 ·

Last modified on Feb 7, 2014

Tags: ethnobotany & aphrodisiac.

What does it mean to say that an aphrodisiac plant is effective? Part 1 of 2

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About this time last year, when I was doing my Masters, I decided that it might be fun to look into an aspect of aphrodisiac plants – this essay is the result. Part 2 is coming along tomorrow :)

Upright

Introduction

Turner notes that “practically everything remotely edible has at some point or another been credited with sexually-enhancing powers – and many inedible substances besides”. This speaks to a strong (and perhaps unfulfilled) human need to find the ‘perfect’ aphrodisiac, although the position of Western conventional medicine has long been that there is no scientific proof that effective aphrodisiacs exist.

As aphrodisiacs have been used by humans for thousands of years (Harper, for example, surveys recipes for aphrodisiacs found in medical manuscripts buried in a tomb dated to 168 BE), and continue to be sought out, this essay aims to explore what it means to say that an aphrodisiac is effective (or, by implication, ineffective).

I will start by defining what is meant by an aphrodisiac. Then, beginning by exploring the Western medical view of what makes any medical treatment effective, and moving on to place aphrodisiac use in a cultural context, this essay will argue that a purely biological/ physiological definition of efficacy is not enough to explain how and why aphrodisiacs are used, and whether they can be said to be effective.

What is an aphrodisiac?

The word ‘aphrodisiac’ is derived from the name of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. As Gawin notes, literary references focus on the idea that they enhance sexual pleasure, whereas aphrodisiacs have tended to be described scientifically as substances that enhance libido (sexual drive).

Sandroni goes so far as to say that aphrodisiacs can be put into categories according to their mode of action – increasing libido, sexual pleasure or potency (defined here as the ability to achieve or maintain an erection).

In other medical traditions, the concept of an aphrodisiac is defined even more widely. Bianchi refers to the use of maca in the Andean highlands to counteract the limiting effects of altitude on both human sexuality and reproductive capacity. Kaphle et al point to the ongoing quest of Chinese men to increase both sexual satisfaction and ‘virility’ – a word they do not define, but which to my mind combines aspects of both potency and fertility.

Aphrodisiacs in Western medicine

In Western medicine, drugs are understood to intervene chemically with specific biological mechanisms, and this interaction is what accounts for their clinical benefits – their ‘effectiveness’. A drug is therefore defined as effective when its biological effect, and the body’s physiological response, can be proven experimentally. For a plant (or its derivative) to be included in the Western pharmacopeia, both its clinical efficacy and biological activity need to be experimentally demonstrated.

However, much of the scientific research into medicinal plants over the last 150 years has concentrated on determining the chemicals present, rather than demonstrating their biological activity.

Another issue for aphrodisiacs is that there is no one accepted method that can be used to identify plants with the ability to enhance male potency, with scientists running tests on excised rodent organs, or observing rodent behaviour after dosing animals with an extract. These animal models are limited to assessing the basic mechanical or instinctive sexual functions. Clinical human trials allow for the more cerebral aspects of sexual behaviour to be examined, but most rely at least partly on subjective self-evaluation by the test subjects.

This lack of empirical evidence (possibly combined with morality and a narrow outlook) is behind the Western medical belief that no effective aphrodisiac plants exist.

The placebo effect

The idea that aphrodisiac actions are merely an example of the placebo effect is revealing, as the placebo effect itself is a scientifically-demonstrable fact that Western medical science struggles to explain. Researchers have found that placebos (treatments involving no active drug ingredients) can provoke real physiological responses, including changes to blood pressure and heart rate and chemical activity in the brain.

Despite acceptance that the placebo effect is real, Western medical tradition evaluates potential drugs by looking for a level of change above and beyond the placebo effect – without trying to explain the placebo effect or seeing it as a treatment in its own right and trying to enhance its effects.

Reporting on the work of Kaptchuk, Feinberg explains his hypothesis that the placebo effect occurs because patients are responding to engagement with their doctor, or the act of being given care itself. In a small study that has yet to be replicated Kaptchuk showed that the placebo effect may be ‘dose-dependent’ – the more care patients receive, the better they feel.

Neuroscientists have shown, with the benefit of medical imaging, that therapeutic rituals cause molecules to move within the brain – the same molecules activated by the bioactive compounds in pharmaceutical drugs. Whilst this research is it its infancy, it appears to be validating the holistic approach to health seen in more traditional medical systems.

Modernism and ethnocentrism

The paradigm of modernism has had a profound effect on the way that indigenous knowledge has been perceived, with its conceptual cornerstone of scientism promoting the idea that the only valid world view is a scientific one. A crude ethnocentrism in the modernist discourse denies the value, and even the existence, of indigenous knowledge. When not ignored, the value of traditional knowledge is presented as contingent on its scientific validation.

Historically, many aphrodisiacs have been associated with the Doctrine of Signatures (DOS) – a medical tradition found throughout the world. The DOS identifies the medicinal use of plants by morphological characteristics, an idea frequently dismissed as ‘primitive’. This rationale has been used to dismiss aphrodisiacs used in the DOS tradition.

However, Bennett hypothesises that this is a modern misinterpretation of the use of the DOS, and suggests that its primary function was as a mnemonic aid to knowledge transmission – allowing the dissemination of information about plants previously identified as effective through experimentation.

Anecdotal evidence of the efficacy of aphrodisiacs is therefore dismissed by Western medicine as an example of the placebo effect, the effect of a general improvement in health caused by the correction of a nutrient deficiency, physiological effects unrelated to libido or merely a change in mood or loss of inhibitions.

Ethnopharmacology and post-modernism

The move towards a post-modern paradigm has seen a shift towards cultural relativism, and the idea that all cultures (and the indigenous knowledge they contain) are meaningful and worthy of respect. A utilitarian approach to ethnoscience highlights the practical value of indigenous environmental knowledge in conservation and the development of new commodities, and this post-modern paradigm has led to a more widespread acceptance that many Western drugs were derived from plants.

Ethnopharmacology aims to discover novel, potentially medicinal, compounds from among the plants and animals used in traditional medical systems and discovered by lay people and folk healers based on their own theories of the human body and of disease.

An ethnopharmacological approach to selecting plants to test for biologically-active compounds is a relatively successful one. However, their acceptance into the Western pharmacopeia is still contingent on their efficacy being demonstrated in clinical trials, which are taking place for some species – e.g. fenugreek (Trigonella foenum‐graecum), maca (Lepidium meyenii), yohimbe (Pausinystalia yohimbe) and Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum).



References
Alexiades, M. N. (The cultural and economic globalisation of traditional environmental knowledge systems) in Heckler, S. (2009). Landscape, process, and power: re-evaluating traditional environmental knowledge. Oxford: Berghan Books.

Bennett, B. C. (2007). Doctrine of signatures: an explanation of medicinal plant discovery or dissemination of knowledge? Economic Botany, 61(3): 246-255.

Bianchi, A. (2003). MACA LEPIDIUM MEYENII. Boletín Latinoamericano y del Caribe de Plantas Medicinales y Aromáticas, 2(3): 30-36.

Cicero, A.F.G, Bandieri, E. and Arletti, R. (2001.) Lepidium meyenii Walp. improves sexual behaviour in male rats independently from its action on spontaneous locomotor activity. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 75(203): 225-229.

Feinberg, C. (2013). The Placebo Phenomenon [Online]. Harvard Magazine. Available from http://harvardmagazine.com/2013/01/the-placebo-phenomenon. [Accessed 3rd February 2013].

Gawin, F.H. (1978). Pharmacological enhancement of the erotic: Implications of an expanded definition of aphrodisiacs. Journal of Sex Research, 14(2): 107-117.

Guohua, H., Yanhua, L., Rengang, M., Dongzhi, W., Zhengzhi, M., & Hua, Z. (2009). Aphrodisiac properties of Allium tuberosum seeds extract. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 122(3), 579-582.

Harper, D. (2005). Ancient and Medieval Chinese Recipes for Aphrodisiacs and Philters. Asian Medicine, 1(1): 91-100.

Houghton, P. J. (1999). The scientific basis for the reputed activity of valerian. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 51(5): 505-512.

Howes, M. J. R., & Houghton, P. J. (2003). Plants used in Chinese and Indian traditional medicine for improvement of memory and cognitive function. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 75(3), 513-527.

Kaphle, K., Wu, L. S., Yang, N. Y. J., & Lin, J. H. (2006). Herbal Medicine Research in Taiwan. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 3(1): 149-155.

McKay, D. (2004). Nutrients and botanicals for erectile dysfunction: examining the evidence. Alternative medicine review: a journal of clinical therapeutic, 9(1): 4-16.

Nordenberg, T. (1996). US FDA, Looking for a Libido Lift? The Facts About Aphrodisiacs [Online]. Available from http://web.archive.org/web/20050215091653/http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/196_love.html [Accessed 29th January 2013].

Perry, E. K., Pickering, A. T., Wang, W. W., Houghton, P. J. and Perry, N. S. L. (1999). Medicinal Plants and Alzheimer’s Disease: from Ethnobotany to Phytotherapy. Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, 51(5): 527–534.

Sandroni, P. (2001). Aphrodisiacs past and present: a historical review. Clinical Autonomic Research, 11(5), 303-307.

Steels, E., Rao, A., & Vitetta, L. (2011). Physiological Aspects of Male Libido Enhanced by Standardized Trigonella foenum‐graecum Extract and Mineral Formulation. Phytotherapy Research, 25(9), 1294-1300.

Turner, J. (2005). Spice: The history of a temptation. London: Harper Perennial.

Waldstein, A. (2006). Mexican migrant ethnopharmacology: pharmacopoeia, classification of medicines and explanations of efficacy. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 108(2), 299-310.

Posted in Blog on Feb 12, 2014 ·

Tags: ethnobotany & aphrodisiac.

The Eyes Have It

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Here's Looking at You!

Last summer my optician used his new-fangled camera to take images of the back of my eyes. He thought he saw, in one, something untoward – a small patch of discoloration. This would not normally be cause for concern, but this particular patch was close to the macula – an area of the eye that determines the accuracy of our vision. It could (but was unlikely to) herald the early onset of Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of visual impairment in the UK.

And so in the autumn I paid a visit to the eye clinic at the John Radcliffe hospital, for further examination. This involved using two medications on my eyes, the end result of which (beyond minor stinging) was highly dilated pupils, an inability to focus and a sensitivity to light.

The drugs used to achieve this have an interesting ethnobotanical history, laid out in a paper called Ophthalmology’s Botanical Heritage (published in the Survey of Ophthalmology in 1992). It says that many of the advances in pharmacology in the 19th century were made by ophthalmologists, eager to explore the autonomic nervous system through its visible effects on the eye.

Atropa belladonna - Wolfskers

Atropa belladonna, by Anne Tanne

They discovered that atropine and scopolamine dilate the pupil (an effect called mydriasis) by blocking the action of the pupillary sphincter. Later it was determined that they also cause cyclopegia – paralysis of the ciliary muscle, which causes a lack of accommodation (my inability to focus properly).

The two effects go hand-in-hand and are used during eye examinations because they make it easier to see the retina at the back of the eye. They are caused by plants in the Solanum (nightshade, potato) family, which were well known in Europe.

However, once they had succeeded in dilating the pupil, ophthalmologists wanted the ability to contract it (miosis) – and for that they had to look to plants beyond their experience. The Calabar bean was used as an ordeal bean, used to ‘determine’ the innocence or guilt of people suspected of witchcraft. When applied to the eyes it causes miosis and short-sight (through an effect on the ciliary nerves), caused by the presence of eserine (physostigmine). It was discovered that it also had an effect on intraocular pressure, and hence it was used as a treatment for glaucoma. It was followed by pilocarpine, isolated from a Brazilian plant.

n702_w1150

The Calabar Bean, from the Biodiversity Heritage Library

Returning from the ethnobotanical aside, there is no reason for me to be concerned about my eyes. The doctor issued what sounded like a standard set of advice for eye health – wear sunglasses when it’s sunny, don’t smoke, eat leafy vegetables and oily fish. I was intrigued by what’s in leafy vegetables and oily fish that would help, so I did some research.

It turns out that carrots, which are rich in vitamin A, are good for general health but not particularly for preventing AMD. That they will help you see in the dark is wartime propaganda – published partly to avoid the Germans learning that we’d invented radar and could see them coming at night, and partly to encourage the general public to eat their way through a carrot glut and reduce the demand for other foodstuffs. (An enterprising woman even came up with a recipe for carrot fudge.)

Oily fish (such as salmon, mackerel, anchovies, trout, herring and sardines) have higher levels of Omega-3, although it’s also found in other fish.

And it turns out that there are two carotenoids vital for eye health – lutein and zeaxanthin – and they are most abundantly found in dark green leafy veg such as kale, spinach and silver beet. They’re also found, in smaller quantities, in peas, pumpkin, Brussels sprouts (that Christmas dinner will have done wonders for your eye health!), sweetcorn and beans.

Which is good news, because all of those things will happily grow here in the UK. It would be interesting to find out which leafy greens are the best if you’re in other climates. I also came across a very interesting paper from 2005 that looks at the lutein values in nasturtiums (Tropaeolum majus), which came to the following conclusion:


“The edible T. majus flower is an excellent source of lutein, the yellow flowers having higher levels than the dark orange flowers. The leaf is a good source of lutein and the provitamin A β-carotene. More studies are warranted to promote the use of these materials as functional food.”

And so it seems that I should be adding nasturtium flowers and leaves to my diet to keep my eyes nice and healthy. The same paper suggests that egg yolks are another good dietary source of lutein, so it might be time to ditch the egg-white omelettes.

So… who’s up for having a salmon omelette with a kale and nasturtium side salad for tea? ;)



References
Macular Disease Foundation Australia. (2013). Nutrition and Supplements for Macular Degeneration. Available from: http://www.mdfoundation.com.au/page17334.aspx

Niizu, P. Y., & Rodriguez‐Amaya, D. B. (2005). Flowers and leaves of Tropaeolum majus L. as rich sources of lutein. Journal of food science, 70(9), S605-S609.

Packer, M., & Brandt, J. D. (1992). Ophthalmology’s botanical heritage. Survey of ophthalmology, 36(5), 357-365.

Posted in Blog on Jan 11, 2014 ·

Tag: ethnobotany

Dissertation: Conclusion

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I have been blogging the more interesting parts of my MSc Ethnobotany dissertation. You can find the background, and a link to download the whole dissertation as a PDF file, here.

Wall 2

Are novelty, curiosity and the expression of individuality the driving motivations for any hobby in a post-modernist world? In fact, the motivations of contemporary gardeners seeking out novel crops are not so different from those of the past. When Alexander sent plant specimens home to Theophrastus, he was curious and seeking knowledge. There are political motivations at work today as well, with some gardeners trying to avoid the products of industrial agriculture, and the agrochemical companies who supply both agrochemicals and the seeds of homogenized plant varieties. Food security issues have never entirely disappeared – despite increasing prosperity, gardeners now are concerned about where their food comes from, how supplies will be affected by climate change and by the need to use their gardens to conserve and enhance biodiversity. Some are still motivated by economic factors, either directly saving money or gaining access to produce that is ‘unbuyable’ at their socioeconomic level (nothing being ‘unbuyable’ if you have unlimited funds).

The transfer of biocultural knowledge has been crucial to the adoption of novel crops throughout history, whether it was Roman and Islamic conquerors bringing new crops, the Spanish extracting the method of growing ginger, or slaves bringing their skills with them from their homelands. Globalization and social media (people interacting with online information, rather than being passive consumers) have removed the necessity for migration, or close human contact, to allow the transfer of knowledge and germplasm. We can now learn from the experiences of strangers on the opposite side of the world. The internet is playing an important role in providing gardeners with biocultural information about novel crops, which aren’t well-documented in the British gardening literature. However, a certain spirit of experimentation is needed, as biocultural information can’t simply be picked up and put down in another place – it has to be moulded into local knowledge of soil and climate, and a new crop has to find a place in our food ways. Gardeners are using social media to share and engage, and this is likely to increase as the more digitally-literate younger generations become the gardening ‘elders’, and pass on their knowledge that way.

It’s worth remembering that the adoption of a novel crop isn’t a one-off occurrence. Food ways change, and crops that were once familiar have fallen from favour. Wong reminds us that the Chilean guava (Ugni molinae) was a favourite in Victorian times, but few gardeners would recognize it now. Carl Legge’s smallage patch is currently an oddity, but could once again become popular if the tide of factors that influence both our food and crop choices once again turns in its favour.

An oft-repeated piece of advice for homegardeners is to “grow what you eat” , but what we eat, and hence what we grow in our homegardens, is influenced by a complex web of political, economic, social and cultural factors. For a new crop to become popular in homegardens, gardeners need to master two domains of knowledge – how to grow a species, and how to make use of it in the kitchen. Increasingly in the 21st century, that means mastering a third – the information skills needed to research and share information online.

Acknowledgements

Ethnobotany

I am grateful for the assistance of a long list of people, many of whom are the anonymous respondents to my online surveys. My thanks go to Carl and Debs Legge in Bryn Ffynnon, and to Anne Marie Owens, Anna Greenland and Ken Harris at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, for arranging and participating in my case studies.

At the University of Kent, my supervisor Dr Raj Puri shared his wisdom throughout, from research design right through to the writing of this dissertation. Réka Komaromi and Professor Roy Ellen provided additional welcome insights, whilst Nicola Kerry-Yoxall and Chris Williams supplied invaluable administrative assistance.

Beyond Kent I offer my thanks to Mark Nesbitt at RGB Kew and Dr Simon Platten, both staunch advocates of ethnobotany and always willing to lend a hand to the non-stop parade of new recruits to this discipline. Eve Emswhiller’s encyclopedic knowledge of the published literature on Oxalis tuberosa provided an indispensable signpost along my journey, and Professor Helen Leach was kind enough to respond to the curiosity of an unknown grad student.

The generosity of friends must also be acknowledged. Susanne Masters made herself available for discussions with tea that helped my project take shape in the early stages, and Ryan Doughty made his unlimited internet access available whenever it was needed.

Finally, there is the inestimable Dr Owen Smith, without whom I would never have gone down this path, and who has been a source of unending support throughout. He is also the original source for much of the unusual germplasm circulating throughout the UK, and his tireless work in researching the benefits of novel crops deserves to be much more widely trumpeted.



References

Cooper, E. (2009). The Alternative Kitchen Garden: An A-Z. East Meon: Permanent Publications.

Wong, J. (2012). James Wong’s Homegrown Revolution. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson.

Posted in Blog on Dec 20, 2013 ·

Last modified on Dec 11, 2013

Tag: ethnobotany

Dissertation: Discussion, part 3

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I am blogging the more interesting parts of my MSc Ethnobotany dissertation. You can find the background, and a link to download the whole dissertation as a PDF file, here.

Sunflower

Why do gardeners chose to grow, or not grow, novel crops?

“I don’t really know how to grow anything except very easy things like tomatoes and sunflowers and runner beans” is representative of the respondents who felt they didn’t have enough experience to try growing anything unusual.

Typical responses concerned with edibility included:


“I wouldn’t grow anything I hadn’t tried before incase [sic] I didn’t like it- it would be a waste of time putting a lot of effort in growing something that wouldn’t get eaten.”

and

“I have never had a chance to sample more novel crops, and probably would not grow something I had never eaten”.

(Carl Legge made a similar point about novel crops being unavailable to try before you grow them, although in his case it wasn’t a barrier to attempting their cultivation.)

Some respondents implied that whilst they themselves would be happy to grow novel crops and try them, “nobody else in the family would eat them”.

Increasing prosperity in the UK has removed the economic necessity of maintaining a homegarden, and the motivations for doing so are now either recreational or aspirational. This new-found freedom from economic restraints allows horticultural curiosity to flourish and provides an environment in which biological diversity is not only maintained, but increased. Whilst it was beyond the scope of this research to enquire why gardeners choose to maintain a homegarden, the motivations given for growing novel crops are telling, with 54% of respondents listing either curiosity, interest, experimentation or some other expression of a desire for novelty. One respondent summed it up neatly when they said “I like experimenting and value diversity.”

Nazarea also observed that homegardeners who save seed do so to maintain their own ‘collection’ of biodiversity, often showing an attraction not only to traditional crops and varieties, but to “the interesting and the odd”.

Respondents also mentioned concerns about the environment – climate change and biodiversity – and the importance of resilience in the homegarden (which comes from having a variety of crops, so that one crop failure isn’t disastrous). There were also mentions of dietary variety and the desire for new food experiences, and these reasons given for growing novel crops reminds us that the ultimate reason for maintaining a homegarden is to grow food, and I believe my results agree with Debs Legge’s assessment that to successfully grow and use a novel crop you need a gardener and a cook – even if they’re embodied in one person. The desire to both grow and use these crops has to be present, as well as the skills to do so, otherwise people either buy their exotic ingredients from commercial sources (rather than growing) or grow familiar vegetables. There’s two domains of knowledge here, and curiosity has to be present in both of them.

How do the motivations of UK homegardeners for growing novel crops compare with the reasons that new crops have been adopted in the past?

Coriander

Food fashions come and go. Many of Britain’s favourite dishes are now of ethnic origin, and Mitchell attributes this change at least partly to changing attitudes towards what constitutes ‘dinner’. Leach’s study of the history of coriander (Coriandrum sativum) use in Europe tells us that it was a common herb and spice in Medieval times, but fell out of favour as cooking styles changed. The name ‘coriander’ rapidly became associated with an unfortunate etymology that suggested it shares an aroma with bed bugs, and remained unpopular until after the Second World War. Leach attributes its rehabilitation to two factors – a post-modernist lack of prejudice against traditional foods that has led to ethnic cuisines becoming more popular, and contact with cultures that use different common names for coriander, allowing people to experience the herb without the negative associations.

As well as changing fashions, the history of novel crop adoptions shows us examples of economic reasons for changing crop patterns and agricultural practices. Changes in social structure, and personal choices of social identity mean that traditional food ways jostle with the desire for novelty, and food choices have been (and still are) one way of expressing socioeconomic status. Some cultures have expressed the desire to explore and to learn and experience new things; others have developed prejudices against the foreign and unfamiliar and stuck to their traditional food ways – even when migrants are living far from their homeland. And the dividing line between food and medicine is not clear cut, meaning that any crop with medicinal benefits may be rapidly adopted into traditional diets.

Contemporary homegardeners in the UK may choose to grow medicinal plants, but is their interest in novel food crops that was examined here. They are not migrants, or conquerors, but they share some of the economic and social motivations for exploring new species that we can see in the past. The desire to explore and learn is just as important a motivation now as it was then, but their concern for the environmental impact of food production, and their distrust of industrialized agriculture are expressions of our current, unique, sociopolitical situation.



References

Leach, H. (2001). Rehabilitating the “Stinking Herbe”: A Case Study of Culinary Prejudice. Gastronomica: The Journal of Food and Culture, 1(2), 10-15.

Mitchell, J. (2006). Food acceptance and acculturation. Journal of Foodservice, 17(2), 77-83.

Nazarea, V.D. (2005). Heirloom Seeds and Their Keepers. Tucson: The University of Arizona Press.

Platten, S. (2012). Plant Exchange and Social Performance: Implications for Knowledge Transfer in British Allotments. [Unpublished ms. supplied by Ellen, R. with the permission of the author: 13 March 2013].

Posted in Blog on Dec 19, 2013 ·

Last modified on Dec 11, 2013

Tag: ethnobotany

Dissertation: Discussion, part 2

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I am blogging the more interesting parts of my MSc Ethnobotany dissertation. You can find the background, and a link to download the whole dissertation as a PDF file, here.

Allotment

How are digitally-literate gardeners using the internet to share the information they have found, or created, on these crops?

In terms of sharing, the differences between the two case studies are interesting. Debs Legge does most of the gardening, whilst Carl Legge does the bulk of the cooking and the online research. They’re both involved with social media and sharing germplasm and biocultural information. Le Manoir has a team of gardeners, some of whom research, and are responsible for growing, novel crops. Some of them talk about their work on Twitter, but it’s not the all-consuming passion that you see in ‘amateur’ gardeners, and although they are happy to share knowledge and germplasm, you have to ask. They’re not sharing their knowledge in any more formal and accessible way online, possibly because it’s a hard-won work skill rather than an interesting hobby. It’s also possible that they spend less time online as theirs is an outdoor activity rather than office-based, and as employees they may be conscious of being thought to be wasting time on social media.

23 (48%) respondents said that they used the internet in some form to share biocultural information. Blogging was the most popular way to do so, which is not surprising as it allows the use of long-form prose and photographs. Social media was also popular, with 13 respondents using it – eight of whom use Twitter, two use Facebook and one mentioned Pinterest. Three respondents mentioned using online forums.

Four informants reported that they didn’t have enough experience with the crop(s) to share information. Of those, one had passed on some oca tubers to friends to try out. This falls outside the results that Ellen and Platten collected, which show that in general on allotments germplasm and biocultural knowledge flow from experienced gardeners to plot newcomers, with the ability to produce a surplus of suitable germplasm an indicator of horticultural skill and thus status. In this particular case, the gardener in question had produced “the tiniest of harvests”, but had managed to eat some tubers, save some for replanting, and give some away.

Ellen and Platten found that, on allotments, newcomers frequently remarked on the generosity of more experienced gardeners in sharing germplasm without asking for anything in return. They surmised that the experienced gardeners were passing on the benefits that they themselves had received when they were newcomers, and that there was no need for short-term equivalence, as is normally expected with gifts. They also noted that this difference was often not clear to newcomers; my respondent having received tubers as a gift the previous year, they may have felt an obligation to pass on the gift they had been unable to reciprocate.

From where do gardeners source their germplasm for novel crops?

Ellen and Platten found that allotment gardeners acquired germplasm from plants they had grown themselves, from friends and neighbours, and at seed-swapping events, although the majority was purchased from commercial suppliers. My respondents report using the same sources, and the bulk of their germplasm was (at least in the first instance) purchased commercially. Ellen and Platten also mention instances of theft or ‘tolerated taking’ of germplasm, but this did not come up in my results. This may be an omission on the part of my respondents, but it is also likely that theft of novel crop germplasm is rare, as the number of gardeners who would recognise the plants and understand how to propagate and cultivate them is small. Another small-volume source of germplasm encountered by Ellen and Platten is replanting or saving seed from supermarket produce, and one of my respondents recorded saving seeds from two peppers in this manner (see Appendix B in the PDF file).

It is interesting that the number of respondents who used home-saved germplasm this year (25%) is much higher than the number of respondents who have saved germplasm for next year (8%). It is not clear whether this is a real difference, or whether some respondents simply didn’t consider saving seed or tubers to be a ‘use’. It is hard to estimate the percentage of UK gardeners who save germplasm for replanting, as it is an informal economic activity. However, Ellen and Platten found that on one particular allotment site in Kent, 84% of germplasm was bought from commercial sources, and seed saving accounted for just 3%. If that situation is representative of the UK as a whole, then a step on the road to adoption for any novel crop would have to involve a move beyond the seed-sharing informal economy to higher levels of commercial availability.



References

Ellen, R. and Platten, S.J. (2011). The social life of seeds: The role of networks of relationships in the dispersal and cultural selection of plant germplasm. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 17, 563-584.

Osterrieder, A. (2013). The value and use of social media as communication tool in the plant sciences. Plant Methods 9(1), 26-32.

Posted in Blog on Dec 18, 2013 ·

Last modified on Dec 11, 2013

Tag: ethnobotany

Dissertation: Discussion, part 1

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I am blogging the more interesting parts of my MSc Ethnobotany dissertation. I’m skipping over presenting the results of my two online surveys in detail. They’re in the PDF version, should you want to read them.

Horseradish

We live in a different world to that in which the historical adoptions of novel crops occurred. Seed production is commercialized, germplasm is treated as a commodity, and UK gardeners can get their hands on most things, despite increasing regulation. Our post-modern world is moving towards cultural relativism, where all cultures are held to be worthy of respect, and traditional knowledge and practice are no longer disparaged, although they are not yet held to be on an equal footing with scientific knowledge.

Yet the historical context of novel crop adoption is still relevant, as it gives us evidence of state interests in agriculture and horticulture, which are inescapable – tax breaks mould commercialized agriculture, and gardeners are subject to the same legal restrictions as farmers (e.g. the CDB and CITES, phytosanitary controls on germplasm imports and the EU seed laws).

The results of my survey confirm that the ‘novel crop’ domain is ill-defined. Question 13 of survey 1b asked respondents to list the other novel or unusual crops they grow or have grown. Their answers (listed in full in Appendix B in the PDF file) contained examples of all the ‘novel’ attributes defined: using horseradish as a perennial broccoli is a new use for an exsiting crop; skirret and rampion are reintroductions of traditional crops; yacon, mashua and ulluco are all introductions, and buckshorn plantain is an example of domestication. Respondents also listed new varieties of commonplace crops (e.g. purple carrots and yellow mangetout). (Survey 1a was aimed at gardeners who choose not to grow novel crops, survey 1b at those who grow oca and/or achocha.)

Do digitally-literate gardeners rely on internet sources for the cultural information they need to grow novel crops?

Almost 35 million adults (73%) use the internet every day in the UK, and with 92% of survey 1b respondents reporting that they use at least one online source for biocultural information, it’s clear that digitally-literate gardeners do rely on the internet for information on novel crops.

In survey 1a, 96% of my respondents also reported using the internet as a source of biocultural information. However, 27% of them also said that a lack of suitable information was one of the reasons they chose not to grow novel crops. As one put it, “i never realsied [sic] i could grow them in this country, so lack of publicity and information of what we can grow in this country”.

The sheer volume of information on the internet can be problematic, and a key “information skill” is the ability to sort the wheat from the chaff, the useful and reliable information from the banal or dubious. Carl Legge gave the example of American recipes online, which often rely on processed ingredients (branded goods, such as tins of Campbell’s soup) that may not be familiar, or available, to a UK audience, or popular with those who prefer to cook from basic ingredients. Gardeners who are researching novel crops also have to understand that the information they find is not all universally applicable – they have to combine it with local knowledge (e.g. of soil and microclimates) and horticultural skill.

Online apps and tools allow us to filter the flow of information, to provide a highly personalised “Table of Contents”, tailored to specific interests. I suspect that the divide between those who feel they have access to the biocultural information they need – and those that don’t – is down to a lack of information skills, rather than a genuine lack of information, and it would be interesting to research this point more fully.

More traditional information sources are still popular, with 21% of survey 1b respondents (and 68% of survey 1a respondents) using books. This may represent a preference for ‘scientific’ knowledge from industry representatives, the media, and ‘experts’ over local knowledge gained through experience and passed down through generations. Gilbert found that gardeners on British allotments rely on commercial seed catalogues for both their germplasm and their biocultural knowledge. Whilst the majority of my respondents sourced their germplasm (at least originally) from a commercial source, only 15% of them report referring to printed seed catalogues, seed packets or information leaflets supplied by the seed company. This may sound a heartening note, as Gilbert found that a reliance on seed catalogues for biocultural information resulted in deskilling, in the sense that gardeners were delegating diversity management to professional breeders, rather than saving seeds and selecting varieties themselves. However, I would have thought that most gardeners refer to seed packet information, at least occasionally. Another possible explanation is that people remember using sources of information such as books and the internet for research, but forget that they have referred to seed packets, which they are likely to do during a gardening activity rather than a research activity.

Zohary’s assertion that co-migration of expert growers with crops (or at least close contact between then and gardeners/ farmers in the new territory) is essential to successful crop adoption is demonstrably true in the historical examples. However, my results indicate that the internet can replace (or at least transform) this close human contact, as gardeners can now record their personal experiences online, and even converse with strangers on the other side of the world. For example, the Sowing New Seeds Project is conserving both the germplasm and biocultural knowledge for novel crops grown (primarily by migrants) on allotment sites in the Midlands. Although collating the information involves close human contact, the information is being released to a wider audience via factsheets freely downloadable from the website (and the germplasm is being distributed via the Heritage Seed Library).



References

Alexiades, M. N. (2009). The cultural and economic globalisation of traditional environmental knowledge systems. In: Heckler, S. ed. Landscape, Process and Power: Re-Evaluating Traditional Environmental Knowledge, Vol. 10. Berghahn Books, pp. 68-98.

Carruthers, S. P. (ed.). (1986). Alternative Enterprises for Agriculture in the UK. Reading: Centre for Agricultural Strategy, University of Reading.

Gilbert, P. R. (2012). Deskilling, agrodiversity, and the seed trade: a view from contemporary British allotments. Agriculture and Human Values, 30(1), 101-114.

McCune, J.L. (2010). A Preliminary Study of the Plant Knowledge and Grassland Management Practices of English Livestock Farmers, with Implications for Grassland Conservation. In: Pardo de Santayana, M., Pieroni, A., and Puri, R. K. Ethnobotany in the new Europe: People, health and wild plant resources. New York; Oxford: Berghahn Books. pp. 307-328.

Office of National Statistics. (2013). Opinions and Lifestyle Survey [Online]. Available from: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0At6CC4x_yBnMdHdsRWhkQld3dms5U1pHMzlWUW03a1E&usp=sharing [Accessed 29 August 2013].

Osterrieder, A. (2013). The value and use of social media as communication tool in the plant sciences. Plant Methods 9(1), 26-32.

Sowing New Seeds. (2011). What is Sowing New Seeds? [Online]. Available from: http://sowingnewseeds.org.uk [Accessed 29 August 2013].

Zohary, D. (1998). The Diffusion of South and East Asian and of African Crops Into the Belt of Mediterranean Agriculture. In: Prendergast, H. D. V. ed. Plants for food and medicine: Proceedings of the joint confereence of the Society for Economic Botany and the International Society for Ethnopharmacology, London, 1-6 July, 1996. Kew: Royal Botanic Gardens. pp. 123-134.

Posted in Blog on Dec 17, 2013 ·

Last modified on Dec 11, 2013

Tag: ethnobotany

Unless stated, © copyright Emma Cooper, 2005-2014.