Diversity of plants used for non-medicinal purposes by the traditional communities of Coastal Karnataka, India




Abstract. Bhandary JM. 2021. Diversity of plants used for non-medicinal purposes by the traditional communities of Coastal Karnataka, India. Asian J Ethnobiol 4: 106-114. Coastal Karnataka region of India, comprising of two districts called Dakshina Kannada and Udupi, is ethnobotanically very rich owing to its floristic and cultural diversity. This is justified by the fact that many ethnobotanical studies have been reported from this area. However, all these studies are concerned only with documentation of traditional knowledge and diversity of medicinal plants and the various non-medicinal uses of plants have not received any scientific attention so far. Therefore, this study was undertaken to document the diversity of plants used for edible, piscicidal and fodder purposes and also for making different household materials. Plant specimens and associated traditional information were gathered from the knowledgeable elders belonging to the different indigenous tribal and non-tribal communities of the study area. Prior-informed, open-ended interviews and discussions were conducted with 32 purposively chosen informants in the field, during different seasons of the study period. Botanical identity of the plants mentioned as useful by informants was confirmed with the help of local flora and enumeration of plant species was done based on use category. A total of 125 species of angiosperm plants used for non-medicinal purposes by different traditional and tribal communities were documented during the present study. Among them, 116 species were used for any one of the above four studied purposes and only nine species were used for two different purposes. As many as 76 species were used for edible purposes, 18 species as piscicides, 21 species as fodder plants, and 19 species were used for making baskets, mats and other traditional artifacts used in daily lives. This study confirmed that the traditional communities of the study locality have considerable traditional knowledge about non-medicinal uses of local plants. However, the practical use of wild plants for the studied traditional purposes has gradually decreased due to lack of interest in the newer generation and availability of modern alternatives.