Plant Diversity ›› 2015, Vol. 37 ›› Issue (06): 881-890.DOI: 10.7677/ynzwyj201515098

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Indigenous Knowledge and Use of Anisodus tanguticus in Pastoral Communities of Eastern Tibet, China, and Its Implications for Local Adaptation

 FU  Yao-1、2、3, WANG  Yun-4, YANG  Yong-Ping-4、5**, YANG  Xue-Fei-1、2、3   

  1. 1 Key Laboratory of Economic Plants and Biotechnology, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming
    650201, China; 2 Southeast Asia Biodiversity Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China;
    3 Yunnan Key Laboratory for Wild Plant Resources, Kunming 650201, China; 4 Institute of Tibetan Plateau Research,
    Kunming, Kunming Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China;
    5 Germplasm Bank of Wild Species in Southwest China,Kunming Institute of Botany,
    Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming 650201, China
  • Received:2015-06-10 Online:2015-11-25 Published:2015-10-14
  • Supported by:

    Chinese Academy of Sciences (Western light Talent Cultural Project to Y. F.); The Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2012FY110300); National Natural Science Foundation of China (31500268)


Wild plant resources and related indigenous knowledge often play important role in facilitating human societies to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters and climate variability. We present a case study of using a traditional herb, Anisodus tanguticus, in a novel way by local pastoralists on the eastern Tibetan Plateau in coping with extreme winter events. Interviews of 13 key informants were carried out in seven villages, and indepth household surveys were conducted in two villages covering all the pastoraldependent households. Participatory observation has also been employed. We found that local herders applying dried above ground part of Atanguticus as a supplementary feed to livestock in winter, with the purpose of helping animals to overcome cold events and snow disasters. According to local communities, time of harvesting and type of animal to be fed are key factors of using this toxic plant. Local communities have accumulated a rich repository of knowledge about Atanguticus, including its habitat, life history, uses, and health enhancing effects. They developed an informal tenure system and benign management practices on this plant. This paper demonstrates that indigenous knowledge evolved from longterm humannature interaction is important in preventing climate induced damages and lowering the risk aroused from climate uncertainties.

Key words: Indigenous knowledge, Pastoralists, Tibetan Plateau, Fodder plants, Anisodus tanguticus

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