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Plants and People of Nepal

Plants and People of Nepal

One should not be too free with the word “masterwork,” but when a book covers the subject as thoroughly and completely as this, it is hard to know what else to call it. There is nothing which could be added to make it more comprehensive.

Plants and People of Nepal

One should not be too free with the word “masterwork,” but when a book covers the subject as thoroughly and completely as this, it is hard to know what else to call it. There is nothing which could be added to make it more comprehensive.

Dr. Manandhar is government ethnobotanist to the Kingdom of Nepal, a country is which political turmoil has been the rule and not the exception for several years. For reasons to which he could only allude, the author had to work against the active interference and disapproval of his colleagues and superiors. Even if this were only a modest book, the achievement is still remarkable. To have produced a thorough treatise on the accumulated folk wisdom of a people living in one of the richest botanical environments in the world is a triumph. It has taken him nearly forty years. One is lost in admiration.

Plants and People of Nepal is a handsome volume. Timber Press has enhanced the significance of the content by giving it large clear format and pages which lie flat in spite of their very large number. The main section of the book comprises beautiful line drawings of each plan, together with a clear and accurate botanical description, the English and Nepalese plant name, and the uses to which it is put. There are a few judiciously chosen colored plates showing people in their villages actively using the fibres, seeds or other parts of a plant which are valuable to them.

Ethnobotany is a difficult scientific discipline, requiring not only conventional botanical knowledge, and preferably something about medicine, but also a great knowledge of, and sensitivity to, timeless customs which often vary by tribe or district, as well as an ability to make oneself understood by groups which seldom mingle with the outside and speak numerous dialects. The author grew up in a quiet Nepalese village, devoted to his grandparents and absorbing their knowledge of the biota around them. He simply assumed that all citizens of Nepal shared this knowledge.

When he found that city-dwellers were completely cut off from it, rejecting it as backward folk lore, he conceived the idea of preserving the traditions in a scientific manner. A number of valuable modern medicines had their beginning in folk tradition: ephedrine for asthma, dioscorea root for reproductive hormones, and digitalis (fox glove) for heart failure are just a few.

Nepal lies within the great Himalayan range. The Sanskrit word Himalaya stands for “abode of the snow”, and that is how we think of the area. In spite of being a very small country, Nepal covers the gamut of climatic extremes and this contributes to the richness of its flora. Many of the great plant explorers brought rhododendron and other glorious ornamental plants from Nepal. When a plant collector simply wrote “Himalaya” as a source of his discovery, quite frequently it came from Nepal

This book is a permanent source of wisdom for readers who are willing to spend a little time with it.

Plants and People of Nepal
Narayan P. Manandhar
Portland, OR Timber Press - 2002

Review by Judith M. Taylor, M. D.
www.horthistoria.com
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Mass Hort logo newFounded in 1829, the Massachusetts Horticultural Society is dedicated to encouraging the science and practice of horticulture and developing the public's enjoyment, appreciation, and understanding of plants and the environment.

2017-2018 Calendar & Courses

2017-2018 Calendar and Courses

Mass Hort Classes & Events

Fri Nov 24 @10:00AM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Sat Nov 25 @10:00AM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Sun Nov 26 @10:00AM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Wed Nov 29 @ 4:00PM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Thu Nov 30 @ 4:00PM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Fri Dec 01 @10:00AM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Sat Dec 02 @10:00AM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Sat Dec 02 @ 1:00PM - 03:00PM
Make Your Own Herbal Gifts
Sat Dec 02 @ 4:00PM - 06:00PM
Holiday Hort Gifts
Sun Dec 03 @10:00AM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Wed Dec 06 @ 4:00PM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Thu Dec 07 @ 4:00PM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Fri Dec 08 @10:00AM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Sat Dec 09 @10:00AM - 08:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Sun Dec 10 @10:00AM - 06:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Mon Dec 11 @10:00AM - 06:00PM
Festival of Trees and Snow Village
Tue Jan 09 @ 1:30PM - 03:00PM
Tour: Harvard's Glass Flower Collection
Tue Jan 16 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Botany for the Home Gardener
Wed Jan 17 @10:00AM - 02:00PM
Designing the Winter Landscape
Thu Jan 18 @ 7:00PM - 08:30PM
Grow Your Own Succulent Container
Sat Jan 20 @10:00AM - 02:00PM
Greenhouse Growing and Maintenance
Wed Jan 24 @10:00AM - 04:00PM
Digital Photography: Capturing Botanic Images
Thu Jan 25 @ 7:00PM - 09:00PM
Landscaping and Planting Design