Whether you notice it or not, plants are daily fixtures in your life. For some people, It may be a mundane setting where they see trees and other greeneries on their way to work. For others, they pour their heart and soul into maintaining a beautiful lawn, even using something like the TryGnome soil test kit to ensure everything’s on track.
In general, plants are more than just for consumption or ornamental purposes. They are a valuable part of human life, contributing significantly to the culture of each race and region. This reason gave birth to ethnobotany, a branch of study that interrelates human culture and plants.
What exactly is ethnobotany? Let’s find out below.
What is Ethnobotany?
Ethnobotany is a branch of scientific study that analyzes the relationship between humans and plants. The primary aim of ethnobotany is to study how plants influence a particular culture, dating back to its origins up to current trends and developments.
As we have mentioned before, plants have deep roots in terms of their contribution to society. Beyond being a primary source of food, plants also touch on the intricacies of a certain community, particularly in their influence on medicine, religion, music, ornamentation, therapy, festivities, and language.
It would be impossible for us to go through each continent’s ethnobotanical information, so let’s look at each of their common flora and some new plant discoveries.
Each Continent’s New and Common Flora
There is a vast diversity in Africa’s flora landscape. Botanists estimate there are more than 22,000 plant species in Africa, 10% of Earth’s flora landscape. Africa doesn’t have much forestry, but it has a vast grassland area and a wealthy variety of succulents in its desert areas.
As for new flora, researchers recently discovered new species of African violet plants in northeast India. Africa is known for instilling spiritual values in their plants.
Ranked as the 6th largest country in total area, Australia also boasts a unique offering of native plants. Australia has around 24,000 species of native plants, which is more than the whole continent of Africa. Australia’s unique flora offering includes wildflowers, acacia, eucalypts, and flowering plants like waratahs and banksias.
Also, did you know that the world’s largest plant was discovered in Shark Bay, Australia? The seagrass meadow is currently the largest plant in the world, as it covers an area of 180 sq km.
Only two flowering plants are here, with ice and snow dominating most of the Antarctic continent. The Antarctic hair grass and the Antarctic pearlwort are located in the western areas of the Antarctic continent.
Regarding its flora, Asia is typically divided into two major categories: Temperate Asia and Tropical Asia. They share one thing in common: the abundance of ornamental plants on the continent. Furthermore, Asia is famous for viewing their plants as “sacred”; one example is the lotus flower.
As in other facets of the continent, the Americas’ flora landscape is divided into its northern and southern regions. However, when combined, the Americas present the most diverse and largest species of native plants in the world. In the United States alone, there are already 20,000 native plant species.
Europe’s plant life is almost similar to the Americas, especially in the category of flowering plants. However, one thing that’s unique about Europe is how forest-rich it is. Forests cover 35% of Europe’s land area, so it’s no wonder why it is a primary economic resource for Europeans.
Another unique plant that could be traced to European origins is the olive tree. Many people think that olive trees originated in Italy, but they were actually first seen in Greece.