Open Access

Traditional food and herbal uses of wild plants in the ancient South-Slavic diaspora of Mundimitar/Montemitro (Southern Italy)

  • Alessandro di Tizio1,
  • Łukasz Jakub Łuczaj2,
  • Cassandra L Quave3,
  • Sulejman Redžić4 and
  • Andrea Pieroni1Email author
Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine20128:21

DOI: 10.1186/1746-4269-8-21

Received: 2 May 2012

Accepted: 24 May 2012

Published: 6 June 2012

Abstract

Background

In Europe, only a limited number of cross-cultural comparative field studies or meta-analyses have been focused on the dynamics through which folk plant knowledge changes over space and time, while a few studies have contributed to the understanding of how plant uses change among newcomers. Nevertheless, ethnic minority groups and/or linguistic “isles” in Southern and Eastern Europe may provide wonderful arenas for understanding the various factors that influence changes in plant uses.

Methods

A field ethnobotanical study was carried out in Mundimitar (Montemitro in Italian), a village of approx. 450 inhabitants, located in the Molise region of South-Eastern Italy. Mundimitar is a South-Slavic community, composed of the descendants of people who migrated to the area during the first half of the 14th century, probably from the lower Neretva valley (Dalmatia and Herzegovina regions). Eighteen key informants (average age: 63.7) were selected using the snowball sampling technique and participated in in-depth interviews regarding their Traditional Knowledge (TK) of the local flora.

Results

Although TK on wild plants is eroded in Montemitro among the youngest generations, fifty-seven taxa (including two cultivated species, which were included due to their unusual uses) were quoted by the study participants. Half of the taxa have correspondence in the Croatian and Herzegovinian folk botanical nomenclature, and the other half with South-Italian folk plant names. A remarkable link to the wild vegetable uses recorded in Dalmatia is evident. A comparison of the collected data with the previous ethnobotanical data of the Molise region and of the entire Italian Peninsula pointed out a few uses that have not been recorded in Italy thus far: the culinary use of boiled black bryony (Tamus communis) shoots in sauces and also on pasta; the use of squirting cucumber ( Ecballium elaterium) juice for treating malaria in humans; the aerial parts of the elderberry tree ( Sambucus nigra) for treating erysipelas in pigs; the aerial parts of pellitory ( Parietaria judaica) in decoctions for treating haemorrhoids.

Conclusions

The fact that half of the most salient species documented in our case study – widely available both in Molise and in Dalmatia and Herzegovina – retain a Slavic name could indicate that they may have also been used in Dalmatia and Herzegovina before the migration took place. However, given the occurrence of several South-Italian plant names and uses, also a remarkable acculturation process affected the Slavic community of Montemitro during these last centuries. Future directions of research should try to simultaneously compare current ethnobotanical knowledge of both migrated communities and their counterparts in the areas of origin.

Keywords

Ethnobotany Wild food plants Montemitro Molise-Slavic Molise

Introduction

One of the most intriguing scientific questions in ethnobiology concerns the ways through which folk plant knowledge changes over space and time. In Europe, only a limited number of cross-cultural comparative field studies or meta-analyses of historical ethnobotanical literature focused on such dynamics so far [18], while an increasing number of studies have contributed to the understanding of how plant uses change among “newcomers” [917].

Ancient linguistic diasporas have instead been the focus of several field ethnobotanical surveys in Italy during the last decades. Studies on Traditional Knowledge (TK) of plant uses have thus far involved a number of ethnic minority groups within the Italian geographical region: in Northern Italy, Occitans (Provençal) [1823], Franco-Provençal [20, 2426] and German Walser [2729] groups in Piedmont, Ladins [3033], Mócheno [34] and Cimbrian [35, 36] Bavarians in Veneto and Trentino; Istro-Romanians in the Croatian Istria [37]; in Southern Italy: Albanian Arbëreshë in Lucania [3840] and Greeks in Calabria [41, 42]; in Sardinia, Tabarkins (Ligurians) [43].

The present study focused on the food and herbal ethnobotany of an ancient South-Slavic diaspora living in the village of Mundimitar/Montemitro, Molise Region, South-Eastern Italy.

The aims of this study were:
  • to record folk food and herbal uses of wild plants and mushrooms in Mundimitar;

  • to compare the collected ethnolinguistic data with those of Molise, surrounding Italian regions and of Croatia and Herzegovina;

  • to compare the recorded ethnobotanical uses with all Italian ethnobotanical literature;

  • to assess the resilience and cultural adaptations of the Slavic diaspora in perceptions (naming) and uses of wild plants.

Methodology

Study site

Mundimitar (in Italian Muntemitro) is a small village located at 508 m.a.s.l. in the Province of Campobasso, Molise Region, Southern Italy (Figure 1).
Figure 1

Location of Mundimitar/Montemitro.

Like Acquaviva Collecroce and San Felice del Molise, Montemitro is the home to a Slavic community that migrated in the area, probably from the lower Neretva valley (Dalmatia and Herzegovina regions) during the first half of the 14th century [44].

The village had a population of ca. 1,000 inhabitants until the 1970’s when many locals migrated to Northern Italy or abroad for employment. Nowadays, the village is composed of ca. 450 inhabitants who speak a Western Štokavian dialect (na-našo in the local language, meaning “in our language”), known by linguists as Molise Slavic or Molise Croatian.

Field study

The field ethnobiological study was carried out in Mundimitar during several visits in 2009 and 2010. Eighteen key informants (average age: 63.7) were selected using snowball sampling techniques and participated in in-depth interviews regarding their TK of the local flora. The focus of the interviews was on folk food and medicinal uses of wild food plants and mushrooms. Prior informed consent (PIC) was obtained verbally before commencing each interview and the guidelines of the AISEA (Italian Association for Ethno-Anthropological Sciences) [45] were adhered to.

Free-listing and semi-structured interview techniques were used. When available, the wild plant species cited during interviews were collected, verified by our interviewees, identified according to Pignatti’s Flora d’Italia[46], named according to Tutin et al.’s Flora Europaea[47] and later deposited at the Herbarium of the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo. Plant family names follow the recent classification (III) of the Angiosperm Phylogeny Group. The local folk plant names cited during interviews were recorded and transcribed in Serbo-Croatian (after the Yugoslav dissolved, also named BCSM – Bosnian/Bosniak-Croatian-Serbian-Montenegrin).

Data analysis

The data collected during the field study were sorted in Microsoft® Excel.

Two in-depth comparisons were conducted:

· the former, concerning folk plant names, with the standard work on Croatian and Italian folk phytonimy [48, 49], a comprehensive review of the food ethnobotany of Abruzzo (the Italian region bordering Molise) [50], and unpublished ethnobotanical data of SR from Herzegovina as well as the unpublished list of wild food plants sold in the main eleven Dalmatian vegetable markets in March 2012 (ŁŁ);

· the latter, concerning the folk plant uses, with the most comprehensive review of the Italian ethnobotany (published in 2006) [51] and a few additional recent ethnobotanical field studies conducted in the Molise region [5255]. Data from the studied village concerning wild green vegetables were compared with Croatian literature concerning plants use in Dalmatia [5659] and with personal (ŁŁ ) observations on wild vegetables sold in Dalmatian markets in 2012.

Results and discussion

Table 1 shows the local food and medicinal uses of wild vascular plants and mushrooms recorded in Montemitro. Fifty-seven species were identified by study participants. The table includes also the unusual food uses of two cultivated species (garlic and lupine). The limited number of identified fungi is attributed to the fact that most of the cited folk names did not occur during the visit in the field and could not be clearly identified.
Table 1

Traditional food and medicinal uses of wild plants and mushrooms in Mundimitar/Montemitro

Botanical taxon and family

Local name(s) in Mundimitar

English name

Part(s) used

Folk use(s) in Mundimitar

Frequency of citation

Allium sativum L. (Amaryllidaceae) (CULTIVATED)

Luk

Garlic

Flowering shoots

Boiled, then preserved in olive oil or vinegar; in tomato sauces

+++

Amaranthus retroflexus L. (Amaranthaceae)

Pjedruš

Amaranth

Leaves

Raw in salads, or boiled

+++

Apium nodiflorum (L.) Lag. (Apiaceae)

Kanijola

Fool's water-cress

Aerial parts

Raw in salads or between two slices of bread

+++

Armillaria mellea (Vahl) P. Kumm and related species (Marasmiaceae)

Rekkie mušil

Honey fungus

Fruiting body

Blanched, then fried

+

Asparagus acutifolius L. (Asparagaceae)

Sparuga

Wild asparagus

Shoots

Boiled, then fried in omelets

+++

Beta vulgaris subsp. maritima (L.) Arcang.

(Amaranthaceae)

Blitva

Wild beet

Leaves

Boiled, then fried

+++

Borago officinalis L. (Boraginaceae)

Bureina

Borage

Young leale

Boiled.

+++

Coated with bread crumbs, then deep fried

Bunias erucago L. (Brassicaceae) (?)

Rapanača

Crested warty cabbage

Whorls

Boiled and fried

+

Calendula arvensis L. (Asteraceae)

Kalendula

Marigold

Flowers

In salads

+

Cantharellus cibarius Fr. (Cantharellaceae)

Galuč

Chanterelle

Fruiting body

Blanched, then fried

+

Centaurium erythraea Rafn. (Gentianaceae)

Džencjanela

Centaury

Aerial parts

Decoction as a panacea

+

Cichorium intybus L. (Asteraceae)

Čikoria

Wild cichory

Whorls

Boiled, then fried in olive oil with garlic

++

Clavaria sp. (Clavariaceae)

Picele

Coral fungus

Fruiting body

Boiled, then fried

+

Clematis vitalba L. (Ranunculaceae)

Škrabut

Traveller’s joy

Shoots

Boiled, then fried or in sauces; digestive aid

+++

Stems are directly applied on the tooth to treat toothache

Cornus mas L. (Cornaceae)

Kurnja

Cornel cherry tree

Fruits (Kurnjal)

Consumed raw, or dried/smoked; liqueurs

+++

Crataegus. monogyna Jacq. and C. oxyacantha L. (Rosaceae)

Glog

Hawthorn

Fruits (Glogbili)

Consumed raw as snack.

+++

The thorny stems were used to insert into figs for drying.

Cydonia oblonga Mill. (Rosaceae)

Kutunja

Quince

Fruits

Boiled with wine, for treating sore throats.

+++

Jam.

Cynara cardunculus L. (Asteraceae)

Ošnak

Wild artichocke or wild cardoon

Stems

Boiled, then fried with eggs

+++

Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers. (Poaceae)

Gramača

Bermuda grass

Whole plant

Decoction as a diuretic

++

Diplotaxis erucoides (L.) DC. (Brassicaceae)

Marijun

White wall-rocket

Leaves

Raw in salads, more often fried in the pan

+++

Ecballium elaterium (L.) A. Rich. (Cucurbitaceae)

Tikvica divlja

Squirting cucumber

Fruit juice

Instilled in the nose for treating malaria or spread on women breast for weaning babies

++

Eruca sativa Miller

(Brassicaceae)

Rucola

Rocket

Leaves

Raw in salads

+++

Eryngium campestre L. (Apiaceae) (?)

Sikavac

Field eryngo

Leaves

Decoction for treating eye inflammations

+

Ficus carica L. (Moraceae)

Smokva

Fig tree

Pseudofruits

Eaten fresh or dried

+++

Foeniculum vulgare Mill. subsp. piperitum (Ucria) Cout. (Apiaceae)

Finoč

Wild fennel

Fruits

Seasoning for home-made sausages; decoctions as diuretic or for treating gastric reflux

+++

Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (Fabaceae)

Gurgulica

Licorice

Root

Consumed raw as snack.

+++

The aerial parts used as insect repellent.

Humulus lupulus L. (Cannabaceae)

Lupare

Wild hop

Shoots

Boiled, then fried in omelet

++

Hydnum repandum L.: Fr. (Hydnaceae)

Lengaove

Wood hedgehog

Fruiting body

Blanched, then fried

++

Lupinus albus L. spp. (Fabaceae) (CULTIVATED)

Lupino

Lupin

Flower shoots

Aerial parts

Boiled, then fried.

+

The decoction of the whole aerial parts is used in external washes for treating pig erysipelas

Malva sylvestris L. (Malvaceae)

Slis

Mallow

Leaves and flowers

Decoction for treating digestive troubles, bronchitis, or as a laxative for children

+++

Matricaria chamomilla L. (Asteraceae)

Kamomilla

Chamomile

Flowering tops or stems

Decoction, as a mild tranquillizer

++

Mercurialis annua L. (Euphorbiaceae)

Merkulela

Mercurya

Leaves

Boiled in soups (mixed with other herbs), or in purgative decoctions

++

Olea europaea L. var. sylvestris Brot. (Oleaceae)

Maslina

Wild olive tree

Branches

Used for drying figs

++

Origanum vulgare L. (Lamiaceae)

Pljei

Wild oregano

Flowering tops

Seasoning

+++

Papaver rhoeas L. (Papaveraceae)

Mak

Corn poppy

Young aerial parts

Raw in salads, or cooked

+++

Parietaria judaica L. (Urticaceae)

Kolana

Pellitory

Aerial parts

Decoction in external use for treating hemorrhoids (affected parts exposed to vapors).

++

Necklaces for children

Picris echioides L. and P. hieracioides L. (Asteraceae)

Tustača

Oxtongue

Whorls and shoots

Shoots eaten raw as snack.

++

Whorls boiled and fried.

Portulaca oleracea L. (Portulacaceae)

Prkatj

Purslane

Aerial parts

Raw in salads

++

Prunus spinosa L. (Rosaceae)

Ndrnjela

Sloe

Fruits

Gathered an consumed after the frost; liqueurs

++

Punica granatum L. (Punicaceae)

Šipak

Pomegranate

Fruits

Consumed raw in winter

++

Pyrus pyraster Burgsd.

(Rosaceae)

Trnovača

Wild pear tree

Fruits

Gathered and consumed after the frost

++

Quercus virgiliana (Ten.) Ten. (Fagaceae) (?)

Sladul

Oak

Kernel

Consumed raw

+

Rosa canina L. (Rosaceae)

Skorčavata

Dog rose

Pseudofruits

Decoction for treating sore throat (sometimes together wild dried figs, apple slices, and barley)

+++

Ruscus aculeatus L. (Asparagaceae)

Leprencia

Butcher’s Broom

Shoots

Boiled, then fried.

++

Dried branches were used to clean the fireplace

Ruta graveolens L. (Rutaceae)

Ruta

Rue

Aerial parts

Aromatizing grappa.

+++

Kept under the pillow for treating worms in children.

A few leaves eaten raw by pregnant women to prevent miscarriage (in the past)

Salvia verbenaca L. (Lamiaceae)

Prsenica

Meadow sage

Leaves

Applied externally with pork fat as a suppurative or for treating insect stings

+

Sambucus nigra L. (Caprifoliaceae)

Baz

Elderbery tree

Aerial parts and fruits

Decoction, then in external washes for treating erysipelas in pigs.

+++

Fruits juice used as ink in the past.

Sinapis alba L and S. arvensis L. (Brassicaceae)

Sinapa

Wild mustard

Young aerial parts

Raw in salads, more often cooked in the pan

++

Sonchus arvensis L. and S. oleraceus L. (Asteraceae)

Kostriš/

Kašgn

Sow thistle

Young aerial parts

Boiled, then fried in the pan or cooked in tomato sauce

+++

Sorbus domestica L. (Rosaceae)

Oskoruša

Service tree

Fruits

Consumed after natural fermentation

++

Stellaria media (L.) Vill.

(Caryophyllaceae)

Mišakina

Chickweed

Aerial parts

Fodder for hens

++

Tamus communis L. (Dioscoreaceae)

Gljuštre

Black bryony

Shoots

Boiled, then fried in the pan with eggs or tomato sauce (sometimes served on noodles)

+++

Teucrium chamaedrys L. (Lamiaceae)

Kametr

Wall germander

Aerial parts

Decoction for treating malaria (in the past) and hypertension

++

Umbilicus rupestris (Salisb.) Dandy (Crassulaceae)

Kopič

Navelwort

Leaves

Crushed and mixed with pork fat and soot for treating furuncles

++

Urtica dioica L (Urticaceae)

Kopriva

Nettle

Leaves and shoots

Boiled, then mixed with ricotta cheese, in filled pasta.

+++

Decoction in external washes for strengthening the hair

Ziziphus jujuba Miller

(Rhamnaceae)

Džurdžula

Jujube

Fruits

Eaten after natural fermentation

+

(?) Identification was only postulated on the basis of linguistic data and plant description; +++: quoted by 7 informants or more; ++: quoted by 2 to 6 informants; +: quoted by 1 or 2 informants only.

Figure 2 shows that TK on wild plants is eroded in Montemitro among the youngest generations, thus confirming trends that are the similar throughout Southern Europe and in a large part of the world.
Figure 2

Average number of species quoted by informants by age.

Table 2 shows the ethnolinguistic comparative analysis of the most quoted species during the free-listing exercise (quoted by more than 40% of the informants).
Table 2

Ethnolinguistic analysis of the most quoted wild food plants in Mundimitar/Montemitro (linguistic correspondences are underlined)

Botanical taxon

Local name (s) in Mundimitar

Folk name (s) in Croatia[48]and Herzegovina (unpublished data)

Folk name (s) in Molise and surrounding South Italian regions[49, 50, 52, 59]

Amaranthus retroflexus

Pjedruš

Lodoba, Štir

Cime de halle, Pricacchione, Pederosse

Apium nodiflorum

Kanijola

Celer

Candele, Cannizzole, Cannole, Lacce selvagge, Sellarina

Asparagus acutifolius

Sparuga

Sparožin, Šparoga

Sparacane, Sparaci, Sparge, Sperne, Spinele

Beta vulgaris

Blitva

Bitva divja, Blitva divja, Cikla

Biete, Biote

Borago officinalis

Bureina

Borač, Boražina

Burracce, Burraina, Verraina

Clematis vitalba

Škrabut

Pavina, Pavit, Škrobut

Vitavale, Vitelle, Vitacchie

Cornus mas

Kurnja

Drijen, Drin

Corniale, Crugnare, Vrignale

Crataegus monogyna/C. oxyacantha

Glog

Glog

Arciprande, Bianghespine, Ciciarille, Spine bianghe

Cynara cardunculus

Ošnak

Artičok, Gardun

Cardone, Carducce, Scalelle

Foeniculum vulgare

Finoč

Komorač, Mirodjija, Morač

Fenucchie

Mercurialis annua

Mrkulela

Resulja, Šcerenica

Mercorella, Murculella

Origanum vulgare

Pljei

Metvica, Mravinac, Vranilovka, Vranilova trava

Arigano, Pnliejo, Regana

Papaver rhoeas

Mak

Bologlav, Mak divlji

Papaina,Papambele, Pupille

Portulaca oleracea

Prkatj

Štucliak, Tušani, Tušt

Perchiacche, Porcacchie, Precacchie

Prunus spinosa

Ndrnjela

Brombuli, Crni trn, Trnjina

Ndrignazze, Prugnele, Spine perugne, Struzzacane

Rosa canina

Skorčavata

Srbiguz, Šipak, Šipurak,

Cacavescie, Raspacule, Scarciacule, Stracciacule

Sinapis spp.

Sinapa

Gorušica, Muštarde

Lassane, Sinape

Sonchus spp.

Kostriš/ Kašgn

Kostriš, Ostak, Mličika, Slatčica

Cascigne, Crespigne, Respigne

Sorbus domestica

Oskoruša

Oskoruša

Ciorve, Scioreve

Tamus communis

Gljuštre

Bljušt

Afine, Curone, Defano

Urtica dioica

Kopriva

Bažgava, Kopriva, Žara

Ardiche, Arteche, Strica

Half of the taxa have correspondence in the Croatian and Herzegovinian folk botanical nomenclature, and the other half with South-Italian folk plant names.

The most quoted species still retain a Slavic name and may have also been used in Dalmatia and Herzegovina before the migration took place. A similar link between linguistic cognates and cultural salience has been shown in a recent food ethnobotanical study conducted among a Greek minority in Calabria [41]. However, this analysis may only express a reasonable probability of the original permanence of plant uses into a new environmental and cultural space, but it cannot be excluded that migrant groups may have acquired new practices of use of previously known plants from the autochthonous population, thus resulting in naming plants with the original language and using them in a very different way from the original one.

On the other hand, the fact that in our case study half of the most salient species – widely available both in Molise and in Dalmatia and Herzegovina-- have South-Italian folk names demonstrates a strong acculturation process that has affected the Slavic community of Montemitro during these last centuries.

We have also compared our findings with all of the previous ethnobotanical data of the Molise Region and of the entire Italian Peninsula. A few uses seem to have been recorded for the first time:
  • the culinary use of boiled black bryony (Tamus communis) shoots in sauces and also with pasta;

  • the use of squirting cucumber (Ecballium elaterium) juice for treating malaria in humans (in the past);

  • the use of aerial parts of the elderberry tree (Sambucus nigra) for treating erysipelas in pigs;

  • the use of decoctions of pellitory (Parietaria judaica) for treating haemorrhoids.

Specific ethnobotanical surveys conducted in Dalmatia and Herzegovina are missing in the literature, thus making it very difficult to draft a comprehensive comparison on plant uses. However, a food use of black bryony shoots, which is very common in Mundimitar, seems to be nowadays also common in the Istrian cuisine in Croatia [60] as well in Dalmatia, where it is commonly sold in markets (ŁŁ personal observation, 2012), while in Molise and Abruzzo its food use is considered obsolete.

The wild vegetable mix called mišanca (Zadar-Split) /pazija (Dubrovnik) , sold in every market of the Dalmatian coast (surveyed in March 2012, Łuczaj unpubl.) contains many of the plants used in the study area. For example Sonchus spp., Foeniculum vulgare, Papaver rhoeas, Picris echioides, and to a much lesser extent Eryngium sp. are used as food in Dalmatia nowadays (Table 3). However the existence of this concept of vegetable mix was not recorded in the study area. Strikingly, the data from the study area contain relatively few Asteraceae species, nowadays widely used in Dalmatia under the name radič or žutenica (e.g. Taraxacum spp. , Crepis spp.) and a few other related genera). It must be kept in mind that Dalmatia was under a strong Greek, Roman and Venetian influence, and that the practice of using a variety of wild vegetables in Dalmatia may have a non-Slavic origin. Thus it may be that some of the uses brought by the Slavic emigrants to Italy are actually re-imports of Venetian or Latin customs.
Table 3

Comparison of the use of wild green vegetables in Mundimitar with the studies from Dalmatia and Hercegovina (the areas where the diaspora of Mundimitar originated)

 

Use in the W Balkans

Use in Mundimitar

Amaranthus retroflexus L. (Amaranthaceae)

G

x

Apium nodiflorum (L.) Lag. (Apiaceae)

 

x

Asparagus spp. (mainly Asparagus acutifolius L. ) (Asparagaceae)

B, G, C, M

x

Beta vulgaris L. (Amaranthaceae)

B, G

x

Borago officinalis L. (Boraginaceae)

G, S

x

Bunias erucago L. (Brassicaceae)

G

x

Cichorium intybus L. (Asteraceae)

B, G, S

x

Clematis vitalba L. (Ranunculaceae)

G

x

Cynara cardunculus L. (Asteraceae)

 

x

Diplotaxis erucoides (L.) DC. (Brassicaceae)

 

x

Eruca sativa Miller (Brassicaceae)

B, G

x

Humulus lupulus L. (Cannabaceae)

 

x

Mercurialis annua L. (Euphorbiaceae)

 

x

Papaver rhoeas L. (Papaveraceae)

G, C, S, L

x

Picris echioides L. (Asteraceae)

L

x

P. hieracioides L. (Asteraceae)

 

x

Portulaca oleracea L. (Portulacaceae)

G

x

Ruscus spp. (Asparagaceae)

B, G, C

x

Sinapis alba L and S. arvensis L. (Brassicaceae)

 

x

Sonchus spp. (Asteraceae)

B, G, C, S, L

x

Tamus communis L. (Dioscoreaceae)

B, G, S, M

x

Urtica dioica L (Urticaceae)

S

x

Foeniculum vulgare Mill. (Apiaceae)

B, G, C, S, L

only fruits as seasoning

Allium ampeloprasum L. (Liliaceae)

B, G, S, L

 

Anchusa arvensis (L.) M. Bieb. (Boraginaceae)

C

 

Anchusa sp. (Boraginaceae)

C

 

Arum italicum Mill. (Araceae)

B

 

Brassica oleracea L. (Brassicaceae)

G

 

Capsella bursa-pastoris L. (Brassicaceae)

G

 

Chenopodium urbicum L. (Chenopodiaceae)

B

 

Cirsium arvense L. (Asteraceae)

B, G

 

Crepis sp. (Asteraceae)

C, L

 

Crepis sancta (L.) Babc. (Asteraceae)

C

 

Crithmum maritimum L. (Apiaceae)

B, G

 

Daucus carota L. (Apiaceae)

B, G, S, L

 

Diplotaxis tenuifolia (L.) DC. (Brassicaceae)

B, G

 

Erodium cicutarium (L.) L'Hér. ex Aiton (Geraniaceae)

C

 

Eryngium maritimum L. and E. campestre L. (Asteraceae)

B, G

 

Geranium molle L. (Geraniaceae)

C

 

Hirschfeldia incana (L.) Lagr.-Foss. (Brassicaceae)

G

 

Hypochoeris radicata L. (Asteraceae)

G

 

Lactuca perennis L. (Asteraceae)

B

 

Lactuca serriola L. (Asteraceae)

S

 

Leontodon tuberosus L. (Asteraceae)

B

 

Mentha aquatica L. (Lamiaceae)

B

 

Ornithogalum umbellatum L. (Liliaceae)

G

 

Reichardia picroides (L.) Roth. (Asteraceae)

G, S

 

Ranunculus muricatus L. (Ranunculaceae)

C

 

Rhagadiolus stellatus (L.) Gaertn. (Asteraceae)

C

 

Rumex spp. (Polygonaceae)

G, C

 

Salicornia herbacea L. (Amaranthaceae)

G

 

Silene latifolia Poir. (Caryophyllaceae)

L

 

Salvia verbenaca L. (Lamiaceae)

C

 

Silene vulgaris (Mch.) Garcke and related species (Caryophyllaceae)

B, G

 

Smilax aspera L. (Smilacaceae)

G

 

Taraxacum megalorrhizon (Forssk.) Hand.-Mazz. (Asteraceae)

B

 

Taraxacum officinale Weber (Asteraceae)

B, G, L

 

Tordylium apulum L. (Apiaceae)

C

 

Tragopogon pratensis L. (Asteraceae)

B, G, S

 

Urospermum picroides (L.) Desf. (Asteraceae)

G, C, L

 

Urtica pilulifera L. (Urticaceae)

B, G

 

B – Bakić and Popović (in this study it is unclear if the data is about eating green parts or underground organs) [56], G – Grlić [57], C – Ćurčić [58], S- Sardelić [59], L – most commonly sold wild greens in Dalmatian markets in 2012 in the form of a vegetable mix (Łuczaj, unpublished); M – sold commonly in Dalmatian markets in 2012 as separate bunches (Łuczaj, unpublished).

It is worth pointing out that nowadays in Dalmatia wild vegetables are mainly boiled, strained and seasoned with olive oil whereas the described uses in the study area often refer to frying, which may be reflective of a more recent acquisition of Italian cooking practices.

The food use of mercury (Mercurialis annua) leaves in soups has instead been recorded only one other time in Italy, in two studies conducted in North-Western Tuscany in the Lucca area [61, 62].

Conclusions

This study demonstrates that even within ancient diasporas, as in the Slavic community of Mundimitar, which still exists in Italy after more than five centuries since it was founded, it is possible to find traces of resilience of original TK regarding plants.

A few uses of most quoted plants, which are still named in the original language, may have originated in the migrants’ areas of origin (Dalmatia and Herzegovina).

However, TK is the result of dynamic processes and the case study that we have analysed here also demonstrates a high degree of adaptation, which is shown in both the folk botanical nomenclature (half of the most quoted botanical taxa are named in South-Italian) and in the actual plant folk uses too (very few uses do not correspond with the Italian ethnobotany).

These considerations show that, in contrast with analogous studies conducted on the ethnobotany of recent migrants/newcomer’ groups, TK about plants within ancient diasporas is a very complex, and not well understood, phenomenon.

Declarations

Acknowledgements

Special thanks are due to all the inhabitants of Mundimitar/Montemitro, for their warm hospitality and for sharing their knowledge with the authors, who collected the data in the field (AdT and AP). We would also like to thank to Prof. Marijana Zovko- Končić for helping in the literature search. This article is dedicated to the unforgettable Dorina Giorgetta, our “key” informant in Mundimitar, who unexpectedly passed away, while we were analysing the findings of the field work.

Authors’ Affiliations

(1)
University of Gastronomic Sciences
(2)
Department of Ecotoxicology, Faculty of Biotechnology, University of Rzeszów
(3)
Center for the Study of Human Health, Emory University
(4)
Centre of Ecology and Natural Resources, Faculty of Science, University of Sarajevo

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.