Historical ethnobotanical review of wild edible plants of Estonia (1770s–1960s)

Raivo Kalle, Renata Sõukand

Abstract


This paper is a historical ethnobotanical review of wild plants used by the residents of present day Estonia during the 1770s–1960s. Twenty two sources addressing historical ethnographical accounts of the use of wild food plants were analysed. The use of 147 taxa of vascular plants (over 6% of Estonian vascular flora) and two lichens has been recorded. Although the data does not allow for reliable determination of the frequency of use of specific taxa among the population, general conclusions on the preferences for specific dishes made of wild food plants can be made. While the category of snacks covers the largest proportion of species used, a substantial addition to food rations was provided by bread ingredients (used predominantly in famine times), green vegetables used for making soup, and later jams and other dishes of wild berries. Also beverages (tea and coffee substitutes), beer and beer-like drinks were widely made, and the saps of several tree species were consumed in fresh and fermented form. The most important species, according to the criterion of diversity of use, were Carum carvi, Urtica dioica, and the wild berries Vaccinium vitis-idaea and Vaccinium myrtillus.

Keywords


wild food plants; historical ethnobotany; wild snacks; food culture; ethnographic and folkloristic records; wild edible plants

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References


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