Department of Biology

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Henrik Balslev

Traditional uses of leguminosae among the Karen in Thailand

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  • Natcha Sutjaritjai, Chiang Mai University
  • ,
  • Prasit Wangpakapattanawong, Chiang Mai University
  • ,
  • Henrik Balslev
  • Angkhana Inta, Chiang Mai University

Leguminosae (legumes) are one of the largest plant families. They are widely used for a variety of purposes by people around the world and include many important cultivated economic food crops. On local scales, legumes are commonly used by various ethnic groups. However, the data are incomplete and scattered, not least in Thailand. We found that species of legumes were important in Karen communities, so we decided to investigate in detail the traditional knowledge of legumes on a local scale among Karen people in northern Thailand. We interviewed six herbalists and eighty-four nonherbalist informants in three Karen villages in Chiang Mai province about their use of legumes, and about the local names for the species, using semistructured interviews. A total of 83 legumes species (in 45 genera) had 4443 use reports. Five of the 83 legume species had not been reported previously as used in Thailand. Most Karen use reports (43%) of legumes were for food, medicine (36%), and materials (8%), but in term of species more legumes (68 species) were used for medicine than for food (53 species). The legume genera with most used species were Crotalaria and Flemingia each with six species. The most important species are Tamarindus indica (CI = 3.38), Senegalia rugata (CI = 2.39), Glycine max (CI = 1.27) respectively.

Original languageEnglish
Article number600
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This research was funded by Human Resource Development in Science Project (Science Achievement Scholarship of Thailand, SAST). Henrik Balslev thanks the Carlsberg foundation for support to study the Thai flora, grant #CF14-0245.

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments: We would like to thank the headmen of Khuntae, Pakanok, and Tuan villages, who provided support with facilities and accommodation during field work. We also thank all Karen informants and villagers who kindly gave us information about legume uses. We are very grateful to the Center of Excellence in Bioresources for Agriculture, Industry, and Medicine, Chiang Mai University, for providing financial support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

Copyright 2020 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

    Research areas

  • Cultural importance index, Ethnic groups, Ethnobotany, Fabaceae, Fidelity level, Legumes, Local scale, Plant usage, Skaw Karen, Traditional knowledge

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