Traditional plants of Pohnpei

The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany class visted the Pohnpei Traditional Plants ethnobotanical garden at the Pohnpei campus. This term Totoa had Ben lead the presentation. As I had explained to the class, ethnobotanical knowledge resides within a cultural and linguistic context. Having Ben present the plants in the language of their usage on the island on which the field trip was held was most apropos. The students had the opportunity to experience ethnobotany as an ethnobotanist might on an initial visit to a foreign culture.

Ben presents topwuk and oahr above. Although I had coincidentally brought oahr to class on the first day, many of the students appeared to have forgotten the plant. Topwuk and oahr are both consider Premna obtusifolia, although oahr is both vegetatively and florally distinct from topwuk.
A close up of topwuk.
The group listens attentively to Ben. Kasinta and Edelyn down in the front. Arrayed behind them are Dayne, Sharon, Antoinette, Rophino, Lloyd, Kimberly, Nixon, Samantha, and Lanze.

Deisleen, Strick, Jeffrey, and Monalisa.

Up front Megan and another visitor to the class. The college's national campus is now dominated by students from Pohnpei state. Of the students in the class I am aware of only two who do not at least understand if not also speak Pohnpeian. One of the two has already demonstrated a solid knowledge of plants, the second of the two is from the culture with the most severe loss in terms of plant names.
Deisleen and friend at the end of class.

This field experience was made possible by the College of Micronesia-FSM/Pohnpei campus, the division of T and M. The class owes a debt of thanks to Director Penny Weilbacher and Agriculture Coordinator Totoa Fetalai-Currie.

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