Exploring the children's domain of edible plant knowledge in a Maasai village

Date and Time: 
Thursday, 11 May, 2017 - 15:30
Abstract Key Words: 
Ethnobotany, Traditional Foods and Harvest, children's knowledge
, Cynthiann - Washington State University

Ethnobiological knowledge (EK) of plants and animals is acquired over an individual's lifetime according to environmental, behavioral, and cultural factors. Cultural factors such as dietary ideals and taboos dictate who can use resources like wild food plants in a society, and also can change from childhood to adulthood. These factors contribute to intra- and intergenerational variations in knowledge. This preliminary study explores the acquisition of edible wild plant EK among children in a Maasai village using interviews, free lists, and plant identification walks. The results suggest that there is a domain of wild plant foods that are specific to children. Future research should follow-up on free list data and include more systematic naturalistic observations to elucidate plant use and knowledge transmission. Applications for understanding child plant use in Maasai society include nutrition improvement initiatives and the preservation of traditional knowledge.