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      The traditional food use of wild vegetables in Apulia (Italy) in the light of Italian ethnobotanical literature

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      Italian Botanist

      Pensoft Publishers

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          Abstract

          In this work, we present a summary of an ethnobotanical research carried out in the whole Administrative Region of Apulia (southern Italy). The main topic of the investigation is the traditional knowledge about wild plants, focusing on their common names, on which parts were used in cooking and how they were used. The main aim was to establish a botanical knowledge about these culinary uses through a systematic identification of the species involved, directly in the field. In addition to this, we focused on the ecological aspects of these species and on their biological and chorological forms. Results suggest the existence of very strong ties between the local communities and this particular flora, without substantial differences between rural and urban areas or among different zones of the Apulia Region. On the other hand, in each area we found peculiar food uses, species, parts used, and recipes. The analysed wild plants still have a fundamental role in the local diet, which can predominantly be ascribed to the Mediterranean model. Moreover, we documented an increasing interest in the culinary uses of these species: in the Gargano area, for instance, more and more cultivations of SalicorniaperennansWilld.subsp.perennans are underway thanks to the demand coming from restaurants. In total, we documented 214 taxa (58 families) and at least 19 of them are enduring components of the local diet. Nineteen species represent a high number, considering that the tertiary sector is nowadays predominant in Apulia (73.5 % of the local GDP, compared to 73.2 % in Italy as a whole). Furthermore, the total amount of wild species used as food is the highest in Italy, according to the Italian ethnobotanical literature. On the same basis, we were able to draft a national checklist of 539 taxa documenting the taxonomy of the wild plants involved in traditional food use in Italy, categorized by regions. In conclusion, this work shows that the available literature regarding the Italian territory provides only a partial representation of traditional food uses, even though they are widespread throughout the country. Consequently, this tradition remains to be thoroughly investigated.

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          Most cited references 31

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          An updated checklist of the vascular flora native to Italy

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            Ethnobotanical review of wild edible plants in Spain

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              Wild and semi-domesticated food plant consumption in seven circum-Mediterranean areas.

              The use of local Mediterranean food plants is at the brink of disappearance. Even though there is relatively abundant information on inventories of wild edible taxa, there is also a crucial need to understand how these plants are consumed and when and how these consumption phenomena change over time and place around the Mediterranean. Additionally, it is important to study such knowledge systems and find innovative ways of infusing them to the future Mediterranean generations. During the years 2003-2006 a circum-Mediterranean ethnobotanical field survey for wild food plants was conducted in selected study sites in seven Mediterranean areas (European Union-funded RUBIA Project). Structured and semi-structured questionnaires have been administered to indigenous people and 294 wild food plant taxa were documented in the survey. A comparative analysis of the data was undertaken showing that the quantity and quality of traditional knowledge varies among the several study areas and is closely related to the traditions, environment and cultural heritage of each country. More similarities of wild edible popular use were revealed between the Eastern Mediterranean and the Western Mediterranean.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                Italian Botanist
                IB
                Pensoft Publishers
                2531-4033
                February 09 2018
                February 09 2018
                : 5
                : 1-24
                Article
                10.3897/italianbotanist.5.22297
                © 2018

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