• Richard Evans Schultes
Reference work entry

There are numerous definitions of ethnobotany. The simplest is that it concerns the study of the uses of plants in societies. The term was first employed by John Harschberger in 1895. It was used narrowly in reference to the use of plants by aboriginal people. More recent authors believe that ethnobotany should consider not only the uses of plants but the entire range of relations between humans and plants.

Ethnobotany is a distinct field of research with a strongly interdisciplinary outlook. A number of subdivisions have developed, such as archaeoethnobotany (often called paleoethnobotany), ethnopharmacology, ethnoecology, and ethnomycology. There is even a possible subdivision which could be called “horticultural ethnobotany.” With this rapid proliferation of interests, ethnobotanists have widened the definition to encompass the study of uses in aboriginal societies, native technological manipulation, classifications of the plants involved, indigenous nomenclature, agricultural...

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