Traditional Knowledge of Wild Edibles Used by the Naxi in Baidi Village, Yunnan Province

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Traditional knowledge and its transmission of wild edibles used by the Naxi in Baidi Village, northwest Yunnan province

Geng Y, Zhang Y, Ranjitkar S, Huai H, Wang Y
J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Feb 5;12(1):10
PubMed PMID: 26846564
Yunnan Province
Yunnan Province (Source: TUBS, Wikimedia Commons)

Investigators from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, World Agroforestry Centre, and Yangzhou University conducted a detailed investigation of wild edibles used by the Naxi (Nakhi, 纳西族) people in Baidi village of Yunnan Province and evaluate them to identify innovative organic food products.

The team recorded 173 wild edible plant species, including Cardamine macrophylla, Cardamine tangutorum and Eutrema yunnanense, traditionally consumed as important supplements to the diet, particularly during food shortages.

From the background:

“The Naxi people, one of the main ethnic groups in northwest Yunnan, have accumulated rich knowledge on using wild edibles. Baidi Village (Sanba Naxi Nationality Township, Shangri-La City, Deqing Prefecture) is located in … the Northwest of Yunnan Province, roughly between the two cities Lijiang and Diqing…. The mountain in its territory belongs to Haba Snow Mountain, Yunling Mountain range. Baidi … reaches an elevation of approximately 4500 m while networks of streams and rivers including Geji and Yangtze dissect numerous valleys, which make it encompass a rich diversity of plants. The village has 15 sections or groups of the settlement, eight of which belong to the Naxi. In the northwest of the village, there is a big limestone terrace, Baishuitai (literal meaning white water terrace). Local people believe this place as a shrine and perform various religious activities. It also is a famous scenic spot that attracts the considerable number of tourists all over the world.”

Hypericum forrestii
Hypericum forrestii (Source: Prashanthns, Wikimedia Commons)

The article details the diversity of wild edibles used by the Naxi (including wild vegetables, wild fruits, teas, and one honey source, Hypericum forrestii) and the traditional wisdom of the Naxi regarding the use of these plants. In their conclusion, the authors propose sustainable investigation of nutritional value and market opportunities, while promoting conservation of traditional knowledge:

“The traditional food knowledge of the Naxi in Baidi is dynamic, affected by social factors and communicated with the outsiders’ food knowledge. Overall, this study provides a deeper understanding of the Naxi traditional knowledge on wild edibles. The study suggests some wild edibles might have an interesting dietary constituent, which necessitates further investigation on the nutrition value as well as market opportunities. With scientific evidence on nutrition value and market opportunity, more people will be attracted toward the wild edibles that will help in addressing food security issues along with conservation of traditional knowledge of the aboriginal population.”

Read the complete article at PubMed.

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