Wild Edible Plants (Primarily Fruits) Used by Polish Migrants in Misiones, Argentina

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Wild Edible Plants Used by the Polish Community in Misiones, Argentina

Kujawska M, Łuczaj Ł
Hum Ecol Interdiscip J. 2015;43(6):855-869
PubMed Central PMC4673098

Misiones Province, Argentina
Misiones Province, Argentina [Source: Hogweard, Wikimedia Commons]
Researchers at the University of Lodz and University of Reszów conducted interviews with Polish migrants and their descendants in northern Misiones, Argentina, to study the cultural significance of wild edible plants for these Eastern Europeans settling in this rural subtropical area of South America.

The team recorded the use of 41 botanical species, primarily fruits (e.g., Eugenia uniflora, Eugenia involucrata, Rollinia salicifolia, Campomanesia xanthocarpa, Syagrus romanzoffiana, Allophylus edulis, Plinia peruviana, Plinia rivularis, Eugenia pyriformis) and the green vegetable Hypochaeris chillensis.

Eugenia uniflora
Eugenia uniflora [Source: Citrus limon, Wikimedia Commons]
The authors note that the environmental wealth of Misiones has been and continues to be threatened by centuries-old human activity and expansion, which is ongoing:

“Misiones is one of the smallest, greenest and most biologically diverse Argentinean provinces. As a part of a greater ecoregion known as the Atlantic Forest of the Upper Parana (la Selva paranaense), it is home to 3000 vascular plant species At the end of the nineteenth century this ecoregion extended over 1.2 million km2 from the Paraguay River to the Atlantic Ocean, covering eastern Paraguay, southern Brazil and the province of Misiones in Argentina. During the twentieth century, the expansion of agriculture and animal husbandry, as well as deforestation, reduced it to 7.8 % of its former size…. Prior to 1767, the region was part of the ‘theocratic empire’ of the Jesuit missions, which gave their name to the modern province. The missions were self-sustaining political, religious and economic organizations engaged in the evangelization and acculturation of the indigenous population of the Tupi-Guarani linguistic family. With the expulsion of the Jesuits in 1767, the region of present-day Misiones was nearly abandoned by the indigenous Guarani people. Throughout the nineteenth century the area was used for logging, yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis A.St. –Hil.) extraction, and livestock pasturing in the south…. At present the most important economic activities in the region are forestry, agriculture and, to a lesser extent, cattle breeding. Forestry is based on monoculture plantations of exotic species of pine (Pinus spp.) and eucalyptus (Eucalyptus spp.) for the paper and timber industries. The main crops are tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum L.), yerba mate, tea (Thea sinensis L.), and citrus (Citrus spp.). The local economy is based on exploitation of raw materials with little industrial development.”

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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