Turkish Journal of Botany




Ethnobotanical studies focusing on medicinal plant ingredients have always been conducted with the aim of protecting the local ecological knowledge (LEK) of these natural resources. In the globalized world, the rapid loss of biodiversity and cultural and linguistic homogenization have threatened the survival of the planet, together with leading us towards an extinction crisis. In this extreme situation, LEK is also facing serious challenges, especially that of minorities where the pressure is manifold. A number of studies have been carried out among minority groups in recent times, and scientists are attempting to devise solid policy recommendations to celebrate their LEK in future development programs. In this regard, the current review was planned to explore the diversity of LEK on herbal teas held by minority groups in the Balkans to mobilize policymakers to help foster cultural resilience in the region. We reviewed eleven different ethnobotanical studies conducted in the Balkan region, which recorded 162 plants used in herbal teas for medicinal and recreational purposes. The dominant botanical families, represented by a large number of taxa, were Lamiaceae, Rosaceae, and Asteraceae. The highest number of use reports was recorded for the Rosaceae family. Most of these herbal ingredients were used to treat digestive problems. Traditional ethnobotanical knowledge is highly vulnerable to change, and, therefore, cultural heritage should be reinforced through future educational programs. Considering the diversity of the gathered data on herbal teas, we argue that local wisdom on natural resources should be exploited in future conservation strategies. It is worth mentioning that the folk therapeutic uses of the quoted medicinal plants are very sensitive to change when exposed to scholarly or written knowledge, sometimes also osmotically mixing with that. The article is a useful compendium for medical plant scholars to tackle the issue of biodiversity loss and promote environmental and social sustainability in the region.


Balkans, medicinal plants, wild herbal teas, ethnic minorities, biocultural diversity

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