Using traditional ecological knowledge in discovery of rare plants: a case study from Turkey

Attila Molnár V., Kristóf Süveges, Zsolt Molnár, Viktor Löki


Sustainable (and adaptive) management of natural resources is usually based on long term local experiences with nature. Local traditional communities often possess rich ecological knowledge connected to nature and traditional resource use and management. This knowledge can provide unexpected new information for researchers, and show new opportunities and ways for professionals in conserving rare and threatened species.

We found significant new populations of the rare Ophrys lesbis in a private area next to the settlement of Çamlık, Muğla, and Orchis punctulata in the graveyard of Kadılar, Antalya with the help of local rural people. We firstly report the replanting of some orchid species (Orchis papilionacea, O. italica, and Barlia robertiana) in kitchen gardens of Çamlık and Bayır, in Muğla Province.

The presence of significant orchid populations (e.g., the biggest ever found for Ophrys lesbis) in an area, where local owners have been actively harvesting salep from year to year for decades suggests that the moderate salep harvesting can be sustainable for long run. Based on our observations, Turkish salep harvesters can help botanists and conservationists find new locations of rare threatened orchid populations, and therefore indirectly help in conserve these populations.


flora of Asia Minor; Ophrys lesbis; Orchidaceae; orchids; Orchis punctulata; red list species; salep; TEK

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