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Plant and fungal use in Tusheti, Khevsureti, and Pshavi, Sakartvelo (Republic of Georgia), Caucasus
- Bussmann, Rainer W., Paniagua-Zambrana, Narel Y., Sikharulidze, Shalva, Kikvidze, Zaal, Kikodze, David, Tchelidze, David, Batsatsashvili, Ketevan, Hart, Robert E.
- Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae 2016 v.86 no.2 pp. asbp.3517
- altitude, climate change, farms, food security, fungi, gardening, gender, home gardens, interviews, orchards, questionnaires, woody plants, Caucasus region, Eurasia, Georgia, Republic of Georgia
- In this study, we documented traditional plant use in Tusheti, Khevsureti, and Pshavi and hypothesized that (i) plant use knowledge in general would be higher in isolated high elevation communities, and that (ii) use of home gardens would be much more restricted to lower elevation settings. Fieldwork was conducted in Khevsureti, Pshavi, and Tusheti. Interviews using semi-structured questionnaires were conducted with 74 participants. In the present study, we encountered 317 plant species belonging to 203 genera of 80 families being used in the research region. Of these, 197 species were exclusively wild-harvested, 73 were grown in homegardens, and 47 were both grown in gardens and sourced in the wild. The ordinations in plant-space and in use-space were significantly fit by elevation of informant community, and community itself. Age and gender did not significantly fit the distribution of informants across either plant-space or use-space, respectively. Number of use-reports was highest across all communities in the food and medicinal use-categories, and informant consensus. Species with especially high use-diversity (UD) tended to be woody species although. Species with high use-value (UV) were mostly managed/domesticated species from home orchards, gardens, or farms. Plant species, and uses, found in our study, showed clear relations to the wider Eurasian cultural complex. The species number found was, however, far higher than in any published study from either the region or the wiser Mediterranean and Eurasia. The maintenance of home gardens in Georgia serves as socio-ecological memory. While the great variety of plant species used in the Georgian Caucasus might provide a reservoir for food security climate change is starting to affect both natural floristic diversity and gardens both in the Caucasus as well as continent wide.