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Abstract Detail


Pereverzeva, Ksenia [1], Metzgar, Jordan [2].

Comparing plant uses among coastal plain cultures in colonial Virginia.

The collision of three distinct cultures in colonial Virginia represents an ideal scenario to quantify medicinal plant diversity and cultural exchange. We documented the medicinal plants used by Native American tribes (e.g., Powhatan and Rappahannock), European settlers, and African-American slaves during the colonial period (1607 – 1776 C.E) of Virginia from peer-reviewed literature, ethnobotanical databases, and historical documents. All medicinal species were scored for their usage for 19 medical categories. We used PHYLOCOM to generate a phylogeny comprising all known coastal plain species in Virginia as well as the medicinal plant species used by the colonial Virginia cultures. We identified “hot nodes” on the phylogeny that are overrepresented with medicinal species, which could exhibit promising candidates for biomedical inquiry. We also quantified the similarity of the three culture’s medicinal floras. We calculated the pairwise mean phylogenetic distance among all culture’s medicinal plant sets. In contrast to previous studies that assessed shared plant uses among far-flung cultures, these results will serve as an empirical reference for the similarity of sympatric cultures’ ethnobotanical traditions. This project also adds a new dimension to our historical knowledge of medicinal plants and cultural exchange within colonial Virginia.

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1 - Virginia Tech, Massey Herbarium, 926 W. Campus Drive, Derring 2119, MC0406, Blacksburg, VA, 24061, United States
2 - 926 W. Campus Dr, MC 0406, Derring Hall 2119, Blacksburg, VA, 24061, United States

colonial Virginia

Presentation Type: Oral Paper
Session: ETH1, Ethnobotany
Location: San Luis 2/Starr Pass
Date: Tuesday, July 30th, 2019
Time: 9:15 AM
Number: ETH1006
Abstract ID:194
Candidate for Awards:Economic Botany Section best student paper

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