Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Which plant matters to you? A case report on the meaning of plants for people.

Abstract

In this work, we present a case report on the analysis of exploratory research developed in the context of an Ethnobotany discipline inserted in the Postgraduate Program in Botany at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul. The purpose of the report is to instigate and discuss the relationship between human beings and plants, based on the subjects' narrative investigation. From the ethnobotanical perspective, supported by the studies of symbolic and cultural interactions that this science provides, we analyzed the responses of a group of 30 people to the following question: "what is the first plant that comes to your mind when I ask you: tell me a plant important to you and why?". The species mentioned were classified as native or exotic. The justifications given by the interviewees for the choice of the mentioned species presented a pattern. Thus, we categorized them into the following groups: Affective, Spiritual, Ecological and Utilitarian. The Utilitarian value dominated the responses, followed by the Affective value. The plants presented unique meanings for each analyzed subject and, sometimes, these meanings and justifications for their choices connect them deeply with their sense of identity. Concepts such as Botanical Memory and Botanical Blindness are involved in understanding the perceptions given by the subjects in relation to the plants mentioned. Only 7.7% of the species mentioned are native to the state of Rio Grande do Sul. The low number of native species mentioned is seen by us as a historical and cultural result.