Plant Diversity ›› 2015, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (01): 39-45.doi: 10.7677/ynzwyj201514056

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Dai People’s Botanical Knowledge: NomenclatureMeaning and Classification


  1. Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Mengla, Yunnan 666303, China
  • Received:2014-04-02 Online:2015-01-25 Published:2014-06-11


After analysis, statistics and conclude 1175 species (variety) of plants,1370 Dai names and 1691 meanings were obtained to elucidate how the Dai people recognize and define the plant. They used ‘hongebin’, which means‘the things with life come out from the ground’ to define the plant. This is similar to the modern science which defined the plant as ‘anything that grows from the ground’. This is a highly synthesized scientific term that seldom seen in many other ethnics in the world. In their method of naming plants, they used the types of plant lifeform and economic type for ‘generic’ names, and used the meanings of plant morphogenesis and characters, economic uses, ecological distribution, and stories and legends etc. for ‘specific’ names. Among the 1691 meanings, they are occupied 60%, 30%, 8% and 2% respectively. This reflected that the naming method of Dai for plant ‘Just see what′s looking alike on naming them’ is similar to Linnaeus′ binomenclature of the modern botanical taxonomy. Moreover, the folk plant classification system based on the structure of Dai names is then established, including 5 categories as plant kingdom, tow ‘families’ of wild or cultivated plant, about 20 ‘genera’ of lifeforms and economic types, and more than 3000 species and over 1000 varieties, by the ‘two names’ in the paper as well.

Key words: Xishuangbanna Dai nationality, Dai′s definition of plant, Dai′s ‘bi-nomenclature&rsquo, of plant naming, Dai′s folk plant classification

CLC Number: 

  • Q 949