Ethnobotany final examination

The SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany final examination was a field identification of 22 plants including their Latin binomial, local name, and ethnobotanical use. This format always has the complications of a dynamically moving group of students across a large area of campus. That said, the students in general work independently and honor the spirit of the final examination - that they should be able to walk their island and know their plants and uses. This final is an authentic assessment of student learning outcomes one and two in the course.

PLO SC/SS 115 CLO
GE 3.4 Define and explain scientific concepts, principles, and theories of a field of science. 1. Identify local plants, their reproductive strategies, and morphology.
GE 4.2 Demonstrate knowledge of the cultural issues of a person’s own culture and other cultures.

MSP 2 Demonstrate proficiency in the geographical, historical, and cultural literacy of the Micronesian region.
2. Communicate and describe the cultural use of local plants for healing, as food, as raw materials, and in traditional social contexts.
ANR 2 Demonstrate basic competencies in the management of land resources and food production. 3. Demonstrate basic field work competencies related to management of culturally useful plant resources and foods.

The final has a history in the arrival of a researcher who purported to be a tropical plant expert and then misidentified every plant in the then small ethnobotanical collection, including common pan-Pacific plants. The researcher inadvertently taught me that one would recognize an ethnobotanical expert when one met an ethnobotanical expert just through a walk among the plants of a place. The final was founded in this spirit, with the addition of Latin name recognition along with local name and use of a plant.


1. Microsorum scolopendria
Use: spirit fence mwarmwar for dancing, new three point leaf for diarrhea
Kosrae: sra kwem kwem
Pohnpei: kideu
Chuuk: chiichi

The final examination spring 2018 had twenty plants for sixty answers (Latin name, local name, ethnobotanical use) . This term the final examination required the identification of twenty-two plants for sixty-six answers. Note that for plants that do not exist on the island of a student, the student gets credit for simply noting that the plant does not have name in their language. The use can be from anywhere in Micronesia. The plant list was designed with the mix of islands present in the class in mind.



2. Terminalia catappa
Use: almond nuts as forage food
Kosrae: srifacf
Pohnpei: dipwoapw
Chuuk: asas, aas

This term I prebuilt a list of the plants including local names, constructed by copying and pasting from the online flora into a Google Docs file. The local names include only those pertinent to the class composition this term. This list proved useful in the field and later when marking the finals. For local name marking, spelling counts, especially as the orthography here is phonetic. The spelling is the pronunciation, thus a misspelling is a mispronunciation.


3. Premna obtusifolia
Use: black fruit is a topical treatment of chickenpox blisters, green and black fruit to treat kihl sarawi
Kosrae: fienkack
Pohnpei: topwuk
Chuuk: niyóór

Preparation for the final examination actually begins on the first day of class - the final examination is handed out with the syllabus. Students know from day one what they will have master by term's end to demonstrate learning.


4. Volkameria inermis
Use: steam bath for cold, flu. Steam wash for pregnancy. Leaf tea for cough. Leaf juice for pink eye.
Kosrae: kwacwak
Pohnpei: ilau
Kapinga: lau hia
Mortlockese: ulo
Chuuk: apuoch, apwech
Chuukese (other): etiu, pucherik


5. Ocimum tenuiflorum (Ocimum sanctum)
Use: seasoning, steam bath for congestion, protection
Kosrae: aring
Pohnpei: kadiring
Chuuk: warung


6. Scaevola taccada
Use: white fruit treats pink eye
Kosrae: kusrohsr
Pohnpei: remek
Chuuk: nnét

7. Artocarpus altilis
Kosrae: mos
Pohnpei: mahi
Chuuk: mááy

Far left, Artocarpus altilis. Center, Campnosperma brevipetiolatum. Also visible, MAG Mangifera indica

8. Campnosperma brevipetiolatum
Use: canoe
Kosrae: elahk
Pohnpei: dohng
Yap: ramluw



9. Lycopodiella cernua
Use: decor
Kosrae: mah in twefuroh
Pohnpei: kidien mal, kidim en mal.
Chuuk: unen katu


10. Centella asiatica
Use: medicine for startle, winien pwuriamwei
English: Asiatic pennywort, gotu kola
Pohnpei: liwadawad marer
Chuuk: nikótókót



11. Ponapea ledermanniana
Kosrae: kitacr
Pohnpei: kedei



12. Senna alata
Use: fungal skin disorders
Kosrae: sra kihto
Pohnpei: tuhke en kilin wai
Chuuk: arakak


13. Jasminum sambac
Use: material: mwaramwar, perfume
Kosrae: jasmin
Pohnpei: sampakihda


14. Macaranga carolinensis
Use: material: firewood, fishnet frames, yellow leaf juice prevents flu in babies, bark stops diarrhea
Kosrae: lo iacp
Pohnpei: apwid
Chuuk: tuupw, kúrúwén



15. Bambusa vulgaris
Use: construction
Kosrae: pahmpu
Pohnpei: pehri
Chuuk: iich


16. Coffea arabica (Coffea robusta?)
Use: central nervous system stimulant as beverage
Kosrae: kohfi
Pohnpei: koahpi


17. Ixora casei
Use: Land boundary marker, dokia percussion stick, mwarmwar
Kosrae: kalsruh
Pohnpei: ketieu
Chuuk: achiou, áchiiyu


18. Cordyline fruticosa
Use: skirt, boundary marker, fever absorbing mat
Kosrae: ingingkal
Pohnpei: dihng
Chuuk: tiin


19. Saccharum officinarum
Use: food
Kosrae: tuh
Pohnpei: sehu
Chuuk: woow, sápúk



20. Colocasia esculenta
Use: food
Kosrae: kuhtak
Mwoakilloa: jawa
Pohnpei: sawa
Chuuk: woot, óni


21. Cyrtosperma merkusii
Use: food: starch
Kosrae: pasruk
Pohnpei: mwahng
Chuuk: puna


22. Piper methysticum
Kosrae: seka, suhka
Pohnpei: sakau


Conditions in the field during the final examination were ideal for the final.


A glorious afternoon, still warm under the sun.


Late afternoon light cascades into the Japanese cemetery


The final is a hike, a romp across the campus and the plants of the term in ethnobotany.


An open sky punctuated by a cumulus build, a comma on top of the ridgeline


Shadows lengthening as the light start to gain the golden glow of evening.

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