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Medicinal Plants in Folk Tradition by David E. Allen and Gabrielle Hatfield

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  • Datum plaatsing 11 augustus 2021
  • Laatst bijgewerkt 11 augustus 2021

So many people for so many years have been collecting and reporting the
herbal remedies used by country folk that it must seem surprising that the
resulting mass of data has not been brought together long since and surveyed
overall. Certainly, it seemed surprising to the two of us, as interlopers from
the world of botany. For more than a century and a half, records of where in
Britain and Ireland each species of wild plant is known to occur (or have
occurred) have been sedulously logged and published. So well established is
this tradition that the regular disciplined effort that sustains it has come to be
taken for granted.Unfortunately, the study of folklore failed to attract individuals
with the necessary time and inclination to perform a similar service
for records of plant use, and the magnitude of that task has increased with the
passage of time.

The problem is not so much the quantity of the information that exists as
its scattered nature.Much of it is in rare, privately published, often ephemeral
printed sources, many of them concerned only peripherally with folk medicine.
There are hardly any libraries that combine the necessary open access to
their shelves with a sufficiently representative collection of seemingly relevant
titles to allow research to be concentrated in just a single place. Worse,
though, there is even more material remaining unpublished than has found
its way into print, and extracting that in repositories that happen to be distant
can be costly in time and money, especially when repeated visits are required.
Doubtful plant identifications and obscure or vaguely described ailments, to
say nothing of the Celtic languages, are further difficulties that may have to be
wrestled with even after a productive source has been located.