Traditional Wild Food Plants Gathered by Ethnic Groups Living in Semi-Arid Region of Punjab, Pakistan

Waheed, Muhammad and Marifatul Haq, Shiekh and Arshad, Fahim and W. Bussmann, Rainer and Pieroni, Andrea and A. Mahmoud, Eman and Casini, Ryan and Yessoufou, Kowiyou and O. Elansary, Hosam (2023) Traditional Wild Food Plants Gathered by Ethnic Groups Living in Semi-Arid Region of Punjab, Pakistan. Biology, 12 (2).

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Wild edible food plants (WFPs) are valuable resources in the traditional food systems of many local cultures worldwide, particularly in underdeveloped regions. Understanding patterns of food preferences requires conducting cross-cultural food studies among various ethnic groups in a specific area. In this context, the current study aimed to record WFP use among five ethnic groups in Punjab, Pakistan, by interviewing 175 informants selected through snowball sampling. The indicator food species for different ethnic groups were calculated using indicator analysis based on the percentage of citations. A total of 71 wild food plants (WFPs) belonging to 57 genera and 27 families were observed in the study area. A high proportion of these wild food plants (WFPs) belonged to Fabaceae with eleven species (15%), followed by Moraceae with seven species (9%). Fruits were most widely used (43%), followed by leaves (19%), and shoots (16%). The majority (35 species, 49%) of plants of WFPs were eaten as cooked vegetables. A cross-cultural comparison revealed that four species overlapped among five ethnic groups (Arain, Jutt, Rajpot, Mewati, and Dogar). The Arain ethnic group gathered and consumed a remarkable number of wild plants (35 species), possibly due to a special connection with the general abundance of the local flora, and being close to nature by adopting professions more allied to WFPs in the study area. The analysis of indicator species revealed distinct significant indicator values (p ≤ 0.05) between the main food species among the various ethnic groups. Amaranthus viridis was a common indicator of food in all five ethnic groups, while Ziziphus nammularia was a common indicator food plant of the Mewati, Rajpot, and Jutt ethnic groups; these plants are important in local diets, especially during times of food scarcity brought on by disease or drought. In addition, the current study reports 20 WFPs that have been rarely documented as human food in Pakistan’s ethnobotanical literature. Future development plans should consider biocultural heritage and pay appropriate attention to local ecological knowledge, dynamics, and historical exchanges of traditional food systems.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: wild foods plants; local cultures; indicator analysis; Indo–Pak border
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GB Physical geography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Q Science > QK Botany
S Agriculture > S Agriculture (General)
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture
Depositing User: ePrints deposit
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2023 12:33
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2023 12:33

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