What is ethnobotany?

Ethnobotany is a hybridization of plant biology and cultural anthropology which leads its practitioners deep into jungles and across plains to glean traditional medicinal knowledge in a process that is called natural products discovery.

An ethnobotanist seeks out knowledge about medicinal plants from tribes. He or she wants to know what kinds of healing properties a particular plant has, what conditions it can treat, what parts of the plant are used and how they are prepared. The ethnobotanist collects samples for analysis, and, at that point the process goes from the realm of anthropology to the realm of modern chemistry. The synthetic chemist has the challenge of isolating the active ingredients within the plant. Even more important, chemists must find a way to synthetically reproduce the plant's natural ingredients.

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