Potential uses of lycophytes and ferns in Sri Lanka: an ethnopteridological perspective
Keywords:Ethnopteridology, Indigenous knowledge, Traditional uses, Folk taxonomy
Background: Ethnopteridology is a branch of ethnobotany researching the relationship between pteridophytes and humans. Unlike many seed plants, pteridophytes are generally not extensively used. However, it has long been reported that tropical ferns are used by various indigenous communities. Literature highlighted that to date no comprehensive ethnoperidological survey was performed in Sri Lanka, though it is known that some pteridophytes are used by local communities as home remedies and food sources. Our objective was to present a comprehensive review of the relationships between the pteridophytes and local communities.
Methods: We tried to compile a list of potential uses of pteridophytes of Sri Lanka after a comprehensive review of relevant literature and based on gathered information from informal discussions with village communities and indigenous medical practitioners.
Results: Here we identified 37 species with medicinal, food, ornamental, and other uses. Of these 10 species have categorized as threatened under the National Red List-2020. This article documents that pteridophytes have immense potential to be used as food, medicinal and ornamental, and that they still remain neglected.
Conclusions: It is evident that although a considerable number of Sri Lankan pteridophyte species have potential as food, medicinal and ornamental species, they still remain underutilized and neglected crop genetic resources. Further, this study is emphasized that such species and their associated knowledge are at risk and highly vulnerable to changing physical environment, increasing population pressure, and rapid development of socio-economic status of Sri Lanka.
Keywords: Ethnopteridology, Indigenous knowledge, Traditional uses, Folk taxonomy
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