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We'd like to understand how you use our websites in order to improve them. Register your interest. Towards the end of the 19th century, it started spreading outside gardens, later to become a frequent sight in the major towns and settlements of North Norway — and a veritable pest plant. During the last years or so, a substantial ethnobotanical tradition related to the species has evolved, demonstrating that folk knowledge is not only forgotten and lost, but also charting new terrain.

This survey is based on data extracted from all relevant publications, including botanical literature, travel accounts, newspaper notes, etc. In addition, information on vernacular names and various uses of the H. Where extant, H. Both here and in other areas of northern Norway, it is referred to by a variety of vernacular names, partly borrowed from other species, partly derived from the Latin genus name, and partly coined for this species only.

It was seemingly first used and coined by German soldiers during the World War II occupation of Norway, but now largely replaces other vernacular names. The plant is still popular with children, who frequently play in and with it, whereas adults have been more prone to speculate on its origins — and how to get rid of it. Over the years, H. By necessity, all these traditions are less than years old, showing that even modern and urban societies may produce a substantial body of plant lore, which certainly merits ethnobotanical attention.

Ethnobiologists lament the loss of traditional knowledge across cultures worldwide, and frequently express their intention to salvage what is still left e. Locally, over-exploitation and eradication of relevant species may potentiate the loss of local knowledge [ 6 ].

In some cases, it is even claimed that there is little or nothing left to collect, as suggested e. Several recent works, e. It is obviously true that vernacular plant names and plant uses related to traditional subsistence farming are rapidly disappearing. Despite this, selected elements of the old folk plant knowledge may live on, simply because they are still considered useful and relevant, e.

Restricting the scope of ethnobotany to traditional lifestyles and the past presents a strictly limited view of what the field should cover. In some ways, it is rather similar to the mainly American notion, as expressed e. Still, it ignores the fact that any immigrant group will bring portions of its own plant knowledge and traditions, often to some extent adjusting it to the flora of their new homeland, and thus merging old and new into novel bodies of ethnobotanical knowledge, as has been well documented e.

Anyone, no matter their ethnicity, has some relationship with plants and animals, which is bound to produce at least some knowledge or tradition worthy of ethnobiological interest. Modern city and town dwellers may have much less contact with nature than their ancestors, but they are still bound to meet, eat, like and dislike a substantial number of plants.

In doing so, they will obviously use a number of vernacular names, coining new ones as needed, and frequently accumulating a variety of other lore in the process. This paper provides an example of such modern ethnobotany, by compiling vernacular names and plant lore, including uses, related to Heracleum persicum Desf.

It was introduced as an ornamental to the far north of the country in [ 15 ]. Thus, the entire body of tradition presented here has accumulated in less than years — and most of it probably after , when the species started spreading outside gardens in earnest. It was soon to become a veritable pest plant, and is now duly black-listed in Norway as an aggressive alien [ 16 ].

The present study is based on a variety of material, extracted partly from my database of publications providing data on plant names and uses in Norway currently running into some references , data found in a few archival sources; and, in particular, records in my own extensive collection of ethnobotanical data collected through interviews, questionnaires, and correspondence, over the last 35 years or so.

These latter are referred to by year and record number, e. Having spent most of my life in areas with abundant Heracleum persicum , I have frequently run into people who possessed various kinds of local knowledge related to the species. Large Heracleum species were fashionable in 19th century European gardens, not least due to their stately growth. Fruits of several taxa were imported and sown, but by far the most important species was H. In Norway, H. Further north, in the coastal areas of central and northern Norway, another large, escaped Heracleum is a familiar sight, and may predominate in towns, ruderal areas, abandoned fields and along sea-shores [ 15 , 34 , 36 — 38 ].

The species found here differs from H. Compared to H. For a long time, the identity of the plant found in the north of Norway remained a mystery, and various provisional names have been used for it, including H. Thus, it could possibly belong to an as yet unidentified hybrid, though for the time being, H. The nomenclatural problem is beyond the scope of this paper, and of little bearing in our context.

The first mention of a large Heracleum species in northern Norway is found in the travelogue of W. Christy, a Briton who visited northernmost Norway in [ 47 ].

Soon after, large Heracleum s featured in the gardens of the Alta area. In his account of a botanical expedition to northernmost Norway in , Thore M. Fries noted that a large Heracleum species was a favourite item of the small gardens along the coast of Finnmark; he saw it e.

Later travellers in north Norway also mentioned the plant, e. In his review of useful plants in Norway, including ornamentals, F. It was introduced here about , with plants brought from Alta [ 38 , 57 — 59 ]. Unfortunately, late 19th and early 20th century botanists took little notice of introduced plants, generally neglecting them, and thus depriving us of data that would make it possible to follow the subsequent spread in some detail. By the early 20th century, H. The comment in [ 47 ] is the only concrete evidence of a crucial step in the history of H.

Most buyers probably received H. In 19th century Norway, a substantial part of the trade along the coast was with Germany, and it is certainly possible that Heracleum fruits were also imported from German sources. However, bearing in mind that the Heracleum species found in the northern parts of Norway deviates from the plants mainly H.

Christy as an obvious candidate. Despite this, folk tradition in northern Norway frequently claims or assumes that the Heracleum plants had been brought from northern Russia. On botanical grounds, it is unlikely. There are several introduced Heracleum taxa on the Kola peninsula and in the adjacent White Sea area, but these belong to other species including H. Less frequently, other origins are suggested. At Loppa in Finnmark, people claimed that the plant had been imported from Germany [ 38 ]: So far, about twenty vernacular names have been recorded for H.

The names fall into four different groups, providing an interesting insight in how people find names for a new species:. Derivations from the Latin name. As a garden plant, H. The Latin name was certainly known to many of the early cultivators.

It was soon borrowed and adopted as a Norwegian name, in slightly modified form: herakleum. No other vernacular name seems to have been used in the late 19th and early 20th century. It was used e. It remained the only name used in the area until about , as elsewhere in Troms see below. With little knowledge of Greek mythology among the layman, herakleum was simply a somewhat foreign label.

People did not hesitate in changing it. So far, this has proved the most productive source of vernacular names. Further derivations fall in two subgroups:. Names borrowed from other taxa. Here, the name is usually transferred to Geranium sylvaticum L.

In both cases, similarities are restricted to the flower colour. In the case of Heracleum persicum , vernacular names have been borrowed from other large umbellifers, which at least look slightly similar, mainly Angelica archangelica L.

That was the name they used. People were certainly aware that H. The third major group of vernacular names for H. They are inventions, coined solely as labels for this introduced species — or neologies in the terminology of Grenand [ 69 ].

It has also been chosen as the official Norwegian name. As such, it was introduced in the third edition of the Norwegian standard flora [ 67 ]: The first mention I have been able to trace is in a German book on the flora and fauna of Norway, intended as reading for the German troops occupying Norway during World War II. Thus, it its likely that the name was a German invention, probably intended as a pun, e. None of those I have questioned about H. I first became aware of it about , I suppose.

That was the name they used, what they said. I would guess in , , we [still] used herakleum. Some believed the latter name had gained support through the newspapers EBATA , which may well be correct.

Some of those I have interviewed could only remember that the plant previously went by some other, now forgotten name e. Like Heracleum mantegazzianum , H. As noted in the introduction, foreign visitors were frequently impressed by its vivid growth in the high north. This aspect is mentioned in a number of travel accounts, e. An example of 19th century cultivation: Rows of Heracleum persicum surrounding a whaling station at the outer coast.

Interviews provide some further glimpses of its use in gardens, e. Heracleum persicum was still popular, and being introduced to new gardens, about , e. Nowadays, cultivation is much less frequent, and primarily seen in some coastal villages of the high north, where trees and shrubs fail to grow. Exceptions occur, and H.


Chemistry, pharmacology and medicinal properties of Heracleum persicum Desf. Ex Fischer: A review

Studies have demonstrated that plant extracts possess various biological characteristics, including immunomodulatory activity. Heracleum persicum Desf. Apiaceae , a medicinal plant native to Iran, was studied for its immunomodulatory activity. Immunomodulatory activity of different doses of an aqueous extract of H.


EPPO Global Database

Medicinal plants are widely used throughout the world. Since these plants are known to have minimal side effects, many people embrace them. The golpar plant, scientifically known as Heracleum persicum H. The use of golpar is recommended in traditional medicine as a contraceptive medication for females; however, no scientifically documented evidence has been reported. This study investigates the effects of the golpar plant on ovarian tissue and folliculogenesis. In this experimental study, H.

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