Friday, 11 October 2013

...and friending the fern

This post follows from the previous post 'gilding the lily', do read it if you haven't already...

The Adis from Bomdo village seldom clear an interesting plant from their shifting cultivation fields since it is believed that the plant retains moisture in the fields. Locally called Asi Gebinyé (the one that brings water), Helminthostachys zeylanica has been reported as a medicinal plant from other sites. The fronds are reported to cure acute back pain caused by sciatica, and are also used as a laxative, intoxicant and painkiller whereas the rhizomes are used in treating dysentry, sciatica and malaria. However, the Adis retain the plant as they believe it helps their agricultural production by retaining soil moisture in the site and are oblivious to the medicinal uses of the plant!

The fern species Helminthostachys zeylanica (Image sourced from Wikipedia)

This year, the rains in Upper Siang district were relatively poor and the Bomdo villagers were concerned about their crop harvest. Then, about five weeks ago, a group of villagers went deep into the forest and cut a particular plant, locally called 'Alu layan' which is believed to cause rain. For almost a month after that it rained continuously!

To me this worldview of a remote farming community within which different plants are used based on the community's knowledge or belief systems tailored to the local needs is very interesting and I hope to document many more such adaptations. There is the Aconitum ferrox plant, locally called 'Omo' traditionally used as poison for their arrows used for hunting, there is the tree, the bark of which is used as fish poison, a palm as well as a tree fern, the pith of which was traditionally consumed during times of food scarcity, lots more to write about and you will soon find information about these here in the blog.

No comments: