Assistant Professor Dr. Fevzi Özgökçe, Van 100. Yıl University
Assistant Professor Dr. Fatma Güneş, Kafkas University
Dr. Murat Ünal, Van 100. Yıl University
• to teach and endear ethnobotany research techniques to the local students.
• to ascertain the herbs, edible plants and other useful plants utilized by the locals.
• to record and conserve the vanishing ethnobotanic culture and to encourage to transfer it to the posterity.
• to provide the locals with earnings by introducing worldwide the botanical products that are peculiar to the region.
Scientific study of Ethnobotany, derived from the terms Ethnology (study of culture) and Botany (study of plants), aims at determining the reasons of utilization of plants that belong to a particular area by the denizens. Many endemic plants are used for various purposes such as nutrition, treatment of man and animals, natural dyes, and toy making. But the knowledge obtained from such experiences, which may even provide a remedy for some carcinogenic illnesses, is presently declining fast due to lack of interest by the young generation and of sufficient amount of researches. Even in Germany that is in short of such abundance of vegetal diversity, more than 500 types of plants are used for medicinal reasons. Herbal medicine is somewhat advanced in many countries, including mainly Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, India, China and Japan. Thanks to its wealthy topography and diverse vegetations, Anatolia maintains approximately 10,000 prevalent plant species, 30 % of which are not available in any other country. Nevertheless, the knowledge and tradition of making use of herbs is rapidly fading in Turkey due to immigrations to urban areas.
In parallel with these objectives, we visited many neighboring villages in May-June 2006 and had over 500 questionnaires filled by the locals. Picking up more than 1300 specimens of plants from 83 species, we determined 80 dietary and 32 medical utilizations in relation to such plants. But the most noteworthy result was that we learned the people who know best the benefits of plants were mainly the aged ones and the young ones were not inquisitively interested in the issue. Unfortunately, we are rapidly losing the local herbal experts, and their valuable knowledge that may cure numerous illnesses is vanishing without being transferred to others. It is, therefore, “must” that this knowledge is collected and made public at once by the ethnobotanists.