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Gonzalez J.A.,University of Salamanca | Gonzalez J.A.,Participating group Salamanca | Garcia-Barriuso M.,University of Salamanca | Garcia-Barriuso M.,Participating group Salamanca | And 3 more authors.
Economic Botany | Year: 2012

Plant Remedies against Witches and the Evil Eye in a Spanish "Witches' Village." An ethnobotanical survey was carried out to understand the traditional knowledge and current use of different preventive and curative plant remedies against witches and the evil eye in a Spanish rural community (Villarino de los Aires, Salamanca). Located in a Spanish region known as "Arribes del Duero," this locality has historically been considered an important "witches' village." An anonymous questionnaire was answered by 52 people living in the village. The cultural importance index (CI) of each species was calculated. To analyze how knowledge varies as a function of the socio-demographic characteristics of the different informants, an analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was performed, taking as variable to model the use-reports provided, and as explanatory variables the age, gender, and educational status. Age was the only variable that explained the variety in the number of plant remedies known; people over 60 knew significantly more plant remedies. Fifteen vascular plants were mentioned. The preventive remedies were particularly associated with key moments of the religious calendar. Branches gathered from olive trees, laurel, and/or rosemary are blessed on Palm Sunday, and then placed on window sills to protect people's homes. During the celebration of Saint John's Bonfire, aromatic plants are burnt, and the purifying and protecting power of the smoke emerges. The traditional use of plants hung behind doors of houses and stables to repel witches, and rituals for curing evil eye affecting people, animals, or even possessions were also revealed. Even today in rural communities of western Spain, there is a clear connection between popular religious and magic beliefs and their relationship with nature, especially plants. © 2011 The New York Botanical Garden.

Gonzalez J.A.,University of Salamanca | Gonzalez J.A.,Participating group Salamanca | Garcia-Barriuso M.,University of Salamanca | Garcia-Barriuso M.,Participating group Salamanca | And 2 more authors.
Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution | Year: 2011

The collection and consumption of wild (including naturalized) and semi-domesticated (cultivated and reverted to wild status, and neglected cultivated plants for food) edible plants in the rural communities of the Arribes del Duero (western Spain), a highly heterogeneous Mediterranean agroecosystem, were analysed. Through semi-structured interviews with 80 informants, data on the gathering, preparation and consumption of 76 wild edible plant species were acquired. To analyze how traditional knowledge varies with the characteristics of the informants, we performed an ANCOVA. The "age" variable was found to have a significant effect. The most frequently cited species in the study area (i.e. Rubus ulmifolius, Foeniculum vulgare, Quercus ilex, Laurus nobilis, Origanum vulgare) are widely consumed in the Mediterranean region. Also, from a cluster analysis it was observed that the grouping succession this territory matches those of analysed areas of the Iberian southwest. Certain species have traditionally been consumed as an important supplement to the diet, particularly during food shortages (i.e. Rumex induratus, Chondrilla juncea). Several species are ethnobotanical novelties, among which are Erodium botrys and Astragalus pelecinus, whose immature fruits are eaten raw as a snack. Some ecological and cultural aspects of the gathering of wild plants for food are discussed. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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