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Rhododendron Uses and Distribution of this Knowledge within Ethnic Groups in Northwest Yunnan Province, China

DOI: 10.4236/jss.2016.41018, PP. 138-150

Keywords: Rhododendron, Ethnobotany, Knowledge Distribution, Ethnic Minorities, Knowledge Loss

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This research investigated the interplay between nature and culture by focusing on knowledge about the genus Rhododendron in seven ethnic minorities (Bai, Dulong, Lisu, Naxi, Nu, Tibetan, and Yi) and the majority (Han) in Yunnan Province, China. Ethnobotanical uses of rhododendron were determined by interviewing 252 individuals. Using these data, we investigated patterns of knowledge distribution within each ethnic group and the majority to gain an understanding of who holds specific types of ethnobotanical knowledge. We conducted additional interviews with a subset of the interviewees to discuss their perception of knowledge loss and possible solutions. We find that every ethnic minority and the Han had uses for Rhododendron and that this knowledge is distributed unevenly within each ethnic group. Rhododendron knowledge is distributed by age, gender, or distance from tourist areas for use categories such as knowledge of songs, handicrafts, religious uses, and tourism. Additionally, 67.5% of 84 interviewees believe that ethnobotanical knowledge is being lost.


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