Ethnobotanical Study on Garcinia (Clusiaceae) in China

Fengke Lin, Binsheng Luo, Zhuo Cheng, Ping Li, Chunlin Long


The genus Garcinia L. (Clusiaceae) is gaining increasing scientific attention worldwide owing to its ethnobotanical and pharmacological significance. In China, even though Garcinia plants have long been used for food, ethnomedicine, building materials, and other purposes, a comprehensive ethnobotanical study of the genus is notably limited. In the current study, the ethnobotanical importance of Garcinia plants has been extensively investigated through field surveys and literature reviews. Our studies revealed that Garcinia plants have been used in folk medicine since ancient times in China, including the Northern Song Dynasty, 960–1127 AD. Through their extensive interactions with genus, the Chinese people have gained various traditional knowledge, which is reflected in the following six aspects: food, traditional medicines, ornamental trees, construction and technology, cultural and spiritual significance, and miscellaneous uses. In particular, the four species: Garcinia hanburyi, G. paucinervis, G. xanthochymus, and G. oblongifolia, have cultural or spiritual values, among which G. paucinervis could be considered a cultural keystone species in the local communities, considering its crucial contribution to people’s cultures, spirits, and community identity. However, in general, some concerns originating from swift socio-economic changes have also been identified in the knowledge and Garcinia species. Strategies are needed to conserve traditional botanical knowledge, as well as plants.


Garcinia; ethnobotany; traditional botanical knowledge; traditional uses; cultural keystone species; sacred tree; ethnomedicine

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