Edible plants of the Batak Karo of Merdeka District, North Sumatra, Indonesia
Keywords:food plants, edible plants, traditional food, wild food plants, vegetables, fruits, Batak Karo
Background: Batak Karo is one of Batak tribes reputed for their local knowledge about the use of plants for purposes such as food. The objectives of this ethnobotanical study were to document local knowledge related to the uses of wild edible plants and to provide ethnobotanical data on edible plants of the Batak Karo ethnic in order to contribute to the Indonesian traditional food knowledge. This paper presents part of the ethnobotanical research carried out in Merdeka District, North Sumatra, Indonesia.
Methods: Ethnobotanical information was obtained by interviewing 58 Karonese informants in Merdeka (28) and Jaranguda (30). Fifty-five percent of the interviewed people were men. Informants were determined through purposive sampling with the criteria of being married, using plants in the surrounding environment as food, farmers and having access to the forest. We conducted interviews (semi-structured and not closed questionnaire) during the fieldwork.
Results: A total of 53 food plants belonging to 27 families were documented. Thirty percent of the collected species are wild and used for food. Several of these edible plants are also referred as medicinal plants for local people so they could be classified as food medicines. Begonia laruei M. Hughes, Medinilla speciosa Blume, Debregeasia longifoli (Burm. f.) Wedd, Zanthoxylum acanthopodium DC and Eugenia polyantha Barb. Rord. need to be evaluated as potential crops. This study highlights the rich traditional knowledge on edible plants retained by Batak Karo people.
Conclusion: The consumption of wild edible plants is still alive in Batak Karo people. The importance of some of these plant species as wild crops must be outlined since they are a source of genetic resources to establish diversity food.
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