S. Horsfall - Rosaceae in the Pharmacopoeia of First Nations Groups...


Introduction

Methods

Discussion

Conclusion

Appendix 1

Appendix 2

Appendix 3

Appendix 4

Appendix 5

References

As a student of anthropology, I am intrigued by the ways in which various cultures have incorporated plants into their subsistence, social and spiritual systems. In fact, my motivation for enrolling in the BOT307H course was to expand my knowledge of plant morphology and identification in order to pursue ethnobotanical research. Having acknowledged this, it only stood to reason that I would conduct a research project focusing on what particularly interests me - the medicinal use of plants by First Nations of eastern North America. I had originally intended to investigate First Nations' use of plants for parturition and had recorded the relevant plant species compiled in Arnason et al.'s (1981: 2189-2325) article, Use of plants for food and medicine by Native Peoples of eastern Canada. However, as a result of this process, it became obvious that, while Arnason et al.'s article (1981: 2189-2325) serves as an excellent summary of plant species used by First Nations people (it being a compilation of over four hundred species recorded by ethnographers and ethnobotanists studying ten First Nations groups, mainly in the first half of the 20th century), it is does not allow one to efficiently locate species that were used for a specific medicinal purpose. Therefore, I decided to create a Delta database which incorporated the information recorded in Arnason et al.'s article for the purpose of making data retrieval less time-consuming. As well, it gave me an opportunity to become familiar with the Delta database software (i.e. Delta editor, Intkey and Confor) and database design in general.

Although eventually I intend to input the entire compendium of plant species in Arnason et al's article (1981: 2189-2325), it was only possible, due to time restraints, to focus on one plant family for this project and thus, I decided to look at Rosaceae. My choice of the Rosaceae family was two fold. First, because we had already looked at the reproductive cycle and morphology of Rosaceae in the course, ethnobotanical information provided another perspective to understanding this family. Second, I discovered through my research that Rosaceae is a family that has been used extensively by First Nations people, not only as an important medicinal source, but also as a food source. This is in contrast to the family Poaceae, which has primarily been relied upon as a food source (of the approximate 1500 grass species in North America only about 1% have been used medicinally) and Asteraceae and Pinaceae, which have been used more extensively for their medicinal properties (about 9% of Asteraceae and over 50% of Pinaceae were used in medicines) than their food value (primarily lettuces, sunflower seeds and oil and pine nuts ). Conversely, Rosaceae has been both a valued food source for First Nations people (and obviously numerous other cultures) and medicinal source, with over half of the fifty-three North American genera being used in First Nations pharmacopoeia (Moerman, 1982: 47-48). Thus, Rosaceae is an exciting family to study because it has played a pivotal role in First Nations subsistence patterns and healing systems. In the following examination, I describe the processes undertaken in creating the Delta database, the difficulties encountered along the way and the solutions that were reached. I then discuss the various benefits of developing a data base for First Nations Pharmacopoeia, in particular the advantage it provides in accessing information in order to pursue phytochemical, anthropological and linguistical research questions.

These pages present one of the term projects submitted to BOT 307H in the 2000-2001 academic year.  

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Text © 2001 S. Horsfall; HTML design T. A. Dickinson

Please send your comments to tim.dickinson@utoronto.ca; last updated 03-Nov-2001