Monday, March 2, 2015

Gymnosperm spice timber presentations

After a field trip to see gymnosperms, spice trees, and timber trees, the SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany class students gave presentations on the plants of the Pwunso botanic garden. The following is effectively a photo essay.
Jamie Paul lectures on the characteristics of gymnosperms

Lina Lawrence covers the life cycle of a cycad

Gordon Loyola covers the life cycle of a pine

Pine life cycle

Petery Peter and Stephanie Usiel present on the leaf types for gymnosperms: needles, strap shape, fronds, and awl shaped.

Gymnosperm leaf morphology

Lerina Nena and Kohsak Keller Jr. report on the layers of a dicot stem

Outer bark, phloem, cambrium, xylem

Darleen Charley speaks on the first appearance of the angiosperms about 130 million years ago

Herpelyn Ilon continues coverage including examples of monocots and dicots

Esmirelda Elias: distinguishing monocots from dicots

A well done drawing distinguishing between monocots and dicots.

Alexander Kenrad covered the life cycle of an angiosperm with a textbook quality diagram that had been hand painted

A phenomenally well done diagram!

Bryan Wichep spoke on the uses of Allspice

John Yilbuw covered cacao

Simon Augustine presented Cinnamomum versum

Miki Fritz and the use of cloves

Patty Mario with her detailed coverage of Coffea arabica

Including kopi luwak.

Elizabeth Augustine read the benefits of nutmeg

Daryll Keller lectured the board on uses of the timber tree Araucaria

Beverly Billy explains uses of Eucalyptus deglupa, the rainbow gum tree, or as she called it, the "naked tree" as it looks like a tree which lost its bark

Another beautifully done and colored diagram

Lilina Etson tackled the toughest assignment, researching the uses of kauri pine.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Healing Plants Part Two

Part two of the ethnobotany class healing plant presentations. Lina Lawrence of Pohnpei covered the use of spider lily, Crinum asiaticum, to protect wounds from flies. This use is covered on page 253 of Balick's Ethnobotany of Pohnpei.


As cultural knowledge of their plants is lost, students are likely to turn more often to sources such as Balick's excellent text for material. A decade ago students could ask an elder for something to share with the class. Today the knowledge continues to erode and be lost.


Gordon Loyola of Pohnpei covered the use of ilau, Clerodendrum inerme, to treat pink eye. The juice of the leaf is squeezed into the eye to relief the condition.


Patty Mario of Chuuk spoke of the use of "rho" - roasted copra - to treat facial rashes. Initially she refers to the rash as not being related to a boil, but later she used the word boil. Unclear the exact nature of the rash which rho treats.


Patty Mario presenting.



Brian Mwarike of Chuuk covered the use of arakak, Senna alata, for a skin rash. He could not specify which type of rash the plant is to be used upon. This led to a discussion of specificity. Senna alata is used on fungal rashes, at least that was the traditional use and the use in which the plant seems to be most effective. That said, as knowledge is lost, the specific illness is also lost. Soon the plant is used to treat any and all rashes, whether or not the plant is efficacious in that application.

The wearing of wet clothing can cause me to develop these moderately large red rashes on my skin. The rubbing of young Senna alata leaves into the rash eliminates the rash in a single treatment. The rubbing is rough and mildy painful, but I have only ever needed one treatment.


Lerina Nena covered the use of the flowering fruit of ii (Kosraean), weipwul (Pohnpeian), in the treatment of a stomach ache. Two very young fruit, still bearing flowers, are eaten raw.


Petery Peter covered the use of liwadawad marer, Centella asiatica, in the treatment of "fright" in babies. Startling a baby, or anything that leaves a baby frightened, can lead to illness in the baby on Pohnpei and in Mwoakilloa. C. asiatica is a treatment for this fright syndrome. Petery noted the use is to put the leaves under the baby's pillow. That did not sound quite right to me. The traditional treatment is more along the lines of crushing four leaves and squeezing the juice onto the fontanelle of the baby. Given the nature of the fontanelle and the thinness of the baby's skin, in theory the juice could be absorbed into the blood stream and have some pharmaceutical effect.



Stephanie Usiel covers a use of Clerodendrum inerme from Balick's text - a steam bath with the plant in the hot water as a treatment for a head cold.




John Yilbuw of Yap brought in a species of Peperomia, possibly Peperomia pellucida, which in Yapese is called ngarar.Pohnpeians refer to the plant as sekewenleng and also know the plant to be medicinal. My notes are incomplete, but my recollection is that the plant is used to staunch bleeding.


Sebastian of Yap brought in a plant called "atraw" that is used along with coconut oil to treat joint pain via massaging the plant and oil around the joint area.

Island Food Community of Pohnpei visit for the ethnobotany class

On 25 February the SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany class visited the Island Food Community of Pohnpei offices for an introduction to the CHEEF benefits of local food.

Gordon Loyola listens to the presentation

There the students learned that local food is important to the culture, health, environment, economy, and food security of Micronesia.

Elizabeth Augustine takes notes

Local foods promote local cultural practices and traditional  culinary arts. The serving of local foods in traditional manners conserves traditional handicraft forms such as coconut frond plates and baskets. The growing of local food also supports traditional artisanal agricultural practices.

The class was honored with the presence of IFCP Board Vice Chair Moses Pretrick

Local foods are good for the health of the people of Micronesia. Local starches are complex carbohydrates that digest more slowly than rice, this slower rate of conversion to sugar appears to help reduce the risk of developing type II adult onset diabetes. Local starches are high in minerals, and as the IFCP has shown, many of the unique varieties of bananas here have high beta-carotene concentrations, a precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A deficiency is widespread in the FSM, yet the karat banana provides high levels of beta-carotene.

Lilina listens while Miki Fritz takes notes

The environment also benefits from a shift to local foods. Foreign foods come highly packaged in plastics and metals that are slow to degrade. Local foods typically come only in their own husk. Local foods are highly biodegradable. Foreign foods contribute to the waste stream and environmental degradation of the island.

Emihner Johnson presented the CHEEF benefits

The local economy benefits as well. Money spent on foreign, imported food, leaves the island immediately and is lost to the economy. There is no multiplier effect for foreign foods. The purchase of local food is money spent which goes to a local farmer. That local farmer can then buy other goods and services. This is termed a multiplier effect, where one dollar is spent and respent within the economy, contributing more than one dollar to the gross domestic product. Local foods support local farmers and their local families.

Bryan Wichep taking notes

All of the islands depend on ships to bring in foreign food. A strike on the docks in California, a ship bottled up in Saipan harbor, these events could theoretically impact the transhipment of food to the islands. In terms of foreign food, the islands depend on a supply over which the islands have no control. This is food insecurity. Local food is locally grown. Food growing in your backyard is your food, and is food security for your family and, more broadly, the island communities.

Gordon examines a banana variety

Each term the class has the opportunity to visit the Island Food Community of Pohnpei, and the presentations provides the students with an opportunity to choose to go local and eat local foods. The class is primarily composed on young adults who have yet to start a family. The good work of the Island Food Community of Pohnpei provides nutritionally important information to future fathers and mothers, a chance to raise a healthier generation of young Micronesians. Students in the class come from all four states of the FSM, thus the class also provides an opportunity for IFCP to reach out beyond Pohnpei.

Beverly Billy, Daryll Keller, Lerina Nena, and Esmerelda Elias touring the banana collection

I suspect that the students will long remember this field trip and hope that they put what they have learned into action in their own lives.

Akadahn weitata, a nutritious variety of yellow-fleshed banana

Alexander Kenrad takes photos, Lina Lawrence on the left

Petery Peter

The class tours the banana collection: Darlene Charley, Lilina Etson, Patty Mario

Alexander get to see a Fe'i banana: utimwahs

Sebastian, Daryll, fun on a field trip

Bernis Pernes, Beverly Billy, Simon Augustine, Petery Peter modelling the CHEEF benefits of going local.