Local knowledge about palms (Arecaceae) among children in Bolivia

Erika Blacutt-Rivero, Mónica Moraes R., Marta Gruca, Henrik Balslev

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Palms are one of the most important plant families to rural communities, contributing to subsistence and daily livelihoods. Several studies have investigated the usefulness of palms among adult populations. However, data concerning local knowledge of children are rare or lacking. The objective of this study was to document knowledge about palms among children in Bolivia and to improve understanding of the process of knowledge accumulation. Nine communities inhabited by three different ethnic groups in two different areas were studied. Overall, 290 children 6–13 years old were interviewed. Data gathering was divided into: semi-structured interviews; informal walks in the forest; and drawing sessions. Statistical analyses were performed in R. In total, 521 different palm uses were reported for 27 palm species in nine distinct categories. The highest number of uses was reported for Attalea princeps, Bactris gasipaes, Oenocarpus bataua and Euterpe precatoria. The most common use categories were Human food, Construction, Utensils and tools, and Cultural uses. Our results show that the process of learning started early in childhood. Future ethnobotanical studies should focus on even younger children to understand better the process of knowledge accumulation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)505-516
Number of pages12
JournalBotanical Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2016
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Edgardo M. Ortiz (TEX) for his kind assistance in the processing of data and the production of graphs, and Rosember Hurtado, Narel Paniagua-Zambrana and Fabiola Montoya who helped with data collection in the field. This study was funded by the European Union, Framework 7 Programme (contract no. 212631).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Linnean Society of London


  • Amazon
  • Amerindian
  • Andes
  • Chácobo
  • Leco
  • ethnobotany
  • knowledge accumulation
  • knowledge transmission


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