Showing posts from March, 2012

Haruki cemetery cleaning for Ohigan

The ethnobotany class again cleaned the Haruki village cemetery during the week of Ohigan. As I sometimes do, I turned the camera over to the students. Some prove better photographers than others, I pick the better shots from among the dozens taken.

Renee Iva clearing razor grass
Although I prefer images of the students engaged in the activity of the class, they prefer social media ready posed pictures.

Giftleen pulling weeds from amidst the flowers
Rico with a pineapple top
Renee Iva in action
Giftleen with a grass hook
The session ended in the pouring rain, typical for ethnobotany class
At the start of the term I always warn the students that ethnobotany class will involve getting wet, muddy, and sweaty. Whether wet from the rain, or wet from sweat under the intense equatorial sun, one way or another one is wet in this outdoor oriented course.

Renee Iva and Keylafay at class end

Ethnobotanical gardening

In Judith Sumner's The Natural History of Medicinal Plants notes that the mid-nineteenth century, few medical doctors in the United States maintained their physic or healing gardens of plants. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that one of the reasons was that physicians had a source of pure, fresh, and clearly labeled plants from the Shaker community.

I was aware of the Shakers and Sabbathday lake through very close friends of my parents. The husband taught himself to make elliptical boxes and the wife was an active friend and, as I recall, in leadership roles for a time in the Friends of the Shakers.

While the ethnobotanical garden in Palikir is a more accurately a weed patch punctuated by at best a dozen useful plants, getting the class out into the garden and working is still a part of SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany.

Renee Iva
Sean Michael
Charles, usual gardening position. 
One member of the class still skilled in traditional arts.

Speed of Sound

In laboratory nine the physical science class synched clapping boards to echo arrivals to generate data that leads to measuring the speed of sound. Distances were measured using our most accurate GPS unit.

Jeanda with the GPS
The class began with a determination of the dry bulb (32°C at 11:00) and wet bulb (28°C) temperatures. Using the tables from section 8.1, the relative humidity was determined to be 74%. The class was later instructed to use WolframAlpha to determine the theoretic speed of sound in air. The value that I learned long years ago in school is about 20 m/s slower than the usual sound speed on Pohnpei, due primarily to temperature. On a crisp fall day in the midwestern United States the text book value of 330 m/s is fairly accurate. On Pohnpei sound never moves that slowly.

Marie claps the boards in front of the LRC
The data at 8:00 was closer to the estimated speed of sound of 347 m/s. By the 11:00 class the speed of sound would have been 350 m/s.
Tracy claps

Food plants of Micronesia

The ethnobotany class visited the Island Food Community of Pohnpei on the 23rd of February.

Island Food Community has an overall campaign slogan of “Let’s Go Local”.

The following information is adapted from their web site.
Why should we go local? The answer is that locally grown foods have many “CHEEF” benefits. A greater production and consumption of locally grown Pohnpei island food would lead to important benefits including improved health, income generation, savings, food security, and preservation of Pohnpeian culture.
Culture: Food is a basic part of our culture. When we promote our island foods, we are also promoting the traditional Pohnpei farming system, which includes mixed cropping in the agroforest production system.
Health: Consuming island foods provides protection against many nutritionally-related diseases including: diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers, vitamin A deficiency, and anemia. For optimum health it is important to follow healthy lifestyles with sufficient…

Gymnosperms and economically important plants

On 14 February the ethnobotany class toured the Pwunso botanic tall grass and weed patch to view the increasingly neglected gymnosperms and economically valuable plants.

Rosalina, Cindy, Thomas between the cook pines and the cinnamon trees
Cindy, Rico, and Renee Iva in the rain
A diagram done by Ryan on the life cycle of a cycad
Renee Iva covers coffee, a plant seen in at Pwunso
Giftleen covers another plant seen at Pwunso, black pepper

That evening I came across a cook pine that had been cut done. Above are young male cones.

A cross-section of the trunk of the tree. The lack of annual growth rings is a result of temperate tropical climate and year-round growing conditions.

Healing plants

The unit on healing plants began with a visit to the traditional plants of Pohnpei ethnobotanical garden at Pohnpei campus. Our host, Totoa Fetalai-Currie, introduced the students to the garden. She quizzed the students on their knowledge of their local plants and explained some of the uses of the plants.

Ms. Fetalai-Currie noted that the role of retaining and conserving the knowledge of the plants lays with the students themselves. She noted that there would come a time when those of us who teach would move on.
Front center are Keylafay, Rosalina, Delpina, and Serpina. 
On the second and seventh of February the students did presentations on healing plants.

Rico Rico covered the use of a three plant mix of weipwul, rehdil, and konok to relieve kapehd medek (stomach ache). From the konok remove four end points of the vine, from the rehdil remove four fiddleheads, from weipwul the youngest two pairs of young leaves that are still closed and touching each other. Chew all and swallow.


Drawing clouds

Monday was occupied with watching climate change videos, thus review coverage of the midterm fell on Wednesday. With the weak performance on the midterm, the review took half the class.
Gladleen draws her cloud
The second half of Wednesday was occupied with coverage of the terminology used in the videos on Monday: king, spring, and neap tides, green house gases, water vapour, carbon dioxide, methane, global warming, and current climate trends. I finished the class with a demonstration of how to calculate the relative humidity, the heat index, and the risk for athletes due to heat, all of which is in section of 8.1 of the text.

Lizmay drawing
Thus types of precipitation fell onto Thursday and started laboratory eight. Once again I suspended an "artificial cloud" from the overhead track - an aluminum can with ice inside. I then reran the relative humidity, heat index, and risk calculation using the current conditions as read from a thermometer.

After covering the types of preci…