Traditional Botanical Knowledge of Macedonians & Albanians Living in Gollobordo, Eastern Albania

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Resilience at the border: traditional botanical knowledge among Macedonians and Albanians living in Gollobordo, Eastern Albania

Pieroni A, Cianfaglione K, Nedelcheva A, Hajdari A, Mustafa B, Quave CL
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014 Mar 31;10:31
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3998745

Andrea Pieroni of the University of Gastronomic Sciences, with colleagues at the University of Camerino, Sofia University, University of Pristina and Emory University, conducted a cross-cultural ethnobotanical survey of Macedonians and Albanians living in Gollobordo, a region of Eastern Albania bordering the Republic of Macedonia.

From the Background:

“The portion of [traditional ecological knowledge] concerning plants is nowadays increasingly considered crucial in South and South-Eastern Europe for fostering community-based strategies of management of natural resources. It may also represent the starting point for initiatives aimed at the reevaluation of local plants devoted to both small scale food and herbal markets and eco-touristic initiatives. Additionally, studies focused on plant uses that have been conducted in Eastern Europe with an in-depth historical or ethno-historical approach or via archival research and/or contemporary surveys conducted among botanists remembering their childhood have demonstrated how plant perceptions change over time, in response to a complex interplay of socio-cultural, environmental, and economic dynamics.”

Cornus Mas
Cornus Mas [source: B. Navez, Wikimedia Commons]
The team documented 115 taxa of vascular plants that are locally used for food, medicinal, and veterinary purposes. Medicinal plants include Helichrysum plicatum, Arum italicum, Asplenium trichomanes, Cornus mas, Crataegus sericea, Juniperus communis, Origanum vulgare, Rosa canina, Urtica dioica, and Verbascum longifolium, among others.

The authors discuss potential implications of this cross-cultural ethnobotanical study in their Conclusion:

“Local environmental resources derived from plants continue to play an important role in the provision of dietary and medical care for both humans and their livestock in Gollobordo’s communities. We could confirm a more herbophilic attitude of the Macedonians, especially with regards to medicinal and veterinary plants, while the overlaps between the Albanian and the Macedonian ethnobotanies are still relatively limited (restricted to a quarter of the overall recorded plant reports). This confirms that in Gollobordo, despite the two communities having shared the same religion and the same environmental space for many decades, the “original” [traditional ecological knowledge] systems still persist, perhaps due to the geographical and cultural isolation of the area, especially with regards to the Macedonian community. Initiatives aimed at generating an endogenous rural development and especially at fostering sustainable gathering activities of local plants – as well as their small-scale trade and eco-tourism – should seriously consider these cultural divergences. This could in turn promote a tighter collaboration between the two communities and help to sustain the threatened linguistic and cultural heritage of the Macedonian minority.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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