Wild plants eaten in childhood: a retrospective of Estonia in the 1970s–1990s


Corresponding author. E-mail: renata@folklore.ee; renata.herba@gmail.com


In this ethnobotanical study, the authors provide the first quantitative analysis of the use of wild edible plants in Estonia, describing the domains and assessing the food importance of different species. The information was collected using free-listing written questionnaires and concerned plants used by the respondents in their childhood. As part of a major study, this article covers the responses of professionals with some botanical education at vocational or university level, to ensure the greatest possible reliability without using voucher specimens. Fifty-eight respondents provided information on the use of 137 plant taxa, corresponding to approximately 6% of the native and naturalized vascular plants of Estonia. According to use frequency, the most typical wild food plant of Estonia is a fruit, eaten raw as a snack. The results clearly signal that the majority of famine and food shortage plants had already been forgotten by the end of the 20th century, but new plants have been introduced as green vegetables for making salads. Despite changes in the nomenclature of the plants, the use of wild food plants in Estonia was still thriving at the turn of the 20th century, covering many domains already forgotten in urbanized modern Europe. © 2013 The Linnean Society of London, Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society, 2013, 172, 239–253.