New paper comparing folk plant uses in Kosovo

I’m excited to announce that our new paper with European collaborators has just been published in the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine!  The research article, titled “A cross-cultural comparison of folk plant uses among Albanians, Bosniaks, Gorani and Turks living in south Kosovo” by Behxhet Mustafa, Avni Hajdari, Andrea Pieroni, Bledar Pulaj, Xhemajli Koro and Cassandra L Quave, is available free as an Open Access publication, and can be viewed HERE.

It compares folk plant uses among three ethnic groups situated in the same territory, and with access to the same environmental resources. It offers important insight into how people from different cultures interact with their environment in different ways.This has broad-spanning implications for potential future development efforts in the region. Another feature of this paper ins the introduction of a new 3-D adjusted use-value matrix design, which allows for comparative analysis of data between three distinct groups. Based off of the method originally published in the Quave and Pieroni 2015 Nature Plants article, “A reservoir of ethnobotanical knowledge informs resilient food security and health strategies in the Balkans,” which introduced an analytical matrix for comparison of two groups, here we took this method a step further to allow for introduction of an additional group into the analysis.

Here is the full abstract:
Background: Kosovo represents a unique hotspot of biological and cultural diversity in Europe, which allows for interesting cross-cultural ethnobotanical studies. The aims of this study were twofold: 1) to document the state of traditional knowledge related to local (esp. wild) plant uses for food, medicine, and handicrafts in south Kosovo; and 2) to examine how communities of different ethnic groups in the region (Albanians, Bosniaks/Gorani, and Turks) relate to and value wild botanical taxa in their ecosystem.
Methods: Field research was conducted in 10 villages belonging to the Prizren municipality and 4 villages belonging to the Dragash municipality, located in the Sharr Mountains in the southern part of Kosovo. Snowball sampling techniques were used to recruit 139 elderly informants (61 Albanians, 32 Bosniaks/Gorani and 46 Turks), for participation in semi-structured interviews regarding the use of the local flora for medicinal, food, and handicraft purposes.
Results: Overall, we recorded the local uses of 114 species were used for medicinal purposes, 29 for food (wild food plants), and 20 in handicraft activities. The most important species used for medicinal purposes were Achillea millefolium L., Sambucus nigra L., Urtica dioica L., Tilia platyphyllos Scop. Hypericum perforatum L., Chamomilla recutita (L.) Rauschert, Thymus serpyllum L. and Vaccinium myrtillus L. Chamomilla recutita was the most highly valued of these species across the populations surveyed. Out of 114 taxa used for medicinal purposes, only 44 species are
also included in the European Pharmacopoeia. The predominantly quoted botanical families were Rosaceae, Asteraceae, and Lamiaceae. Comparison of the data recorded among the Albanian, Bosniak/Gorani, and Turkish communities indicated a less herbophilic attitude of the Albanian populations, while most quoted taxa were quoted by all three communities, thus suggesting a hybrid character of the Kosovar plant knowledge.
Conclusion: Cross-cultural ethnobiological studies are crucial in the Balkans not only for proposing ways of using plant natural resources, which could be exploited in sustainable local development projects (e.g. focusing on eco-tourism and small-scale trade of medicinal herbs, food niche and handicrafts products), but also for fostering collaboration and reconciliation among diverse ethnic and religious communities.
Keywords: Ethnobotany, Sharr Mountains, Folk medicine, Kosovo, Medicinal plants, Wild food plants