Ethnobotany of Pohnpei: Plants, People, and Island Culture

Paperback: $28.00
ISBN-13: 9780824832933
Published: February 2009

Additional Information

603 pages | 387 color illus.
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  • About the Book
  • Ethnobotany of Pohnpei examines the relationship between plants, people, and traditional culture on Pohnpei, one of the four island members of the Federated States of Micronesia. Traditional culture is still very strong on Pohnpei and is biodiversity-dependent, relying on both its pristine habitats and managed landscapes; native and introduced plants and animals; and extraordinary marine life. This book is the result of a decade of research by a team of local people and international specialists carried out under the direction of the Mwoalen Wahu Ileilehn Pohnpei (Pohnpei Council of Traditional Leaders). It discusses the uses of the native and introduced plant species that have sustained human life on the island and its outlying atolls for generations, including Piper methysticum (locally known as sakau and recognized throughout the Pacific as kava), which is essential in defining cultural identity for Pohnpeians. The work also focuses on ethnomedicine, the traditional medical system used to address health conditions, and its associated beliefs.

    Pohnpei, and indeed the Micronesian region, is one of the world’s great centers of botanical endemism: it is home to many plant species found nowhere else on earth. The ultimate goal of this volume is to give readers a sense of the traditional ethnobotanical knowledge that still exists in the area, to make them aware of its vulnerability to modernization, and to encourage local people to respect this ancient knowledge and keep such practices alive. It presents the findings of the most comprehensive ethnobotanical study undertaken to date in this part of Micronesia and sets a new standard for transdisciplinary research and collaboration.

  • About the Author(s)
    • Michael J. Balick, Editor