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Ethnobotany of the Tari Basin, Papua New Guinea

CollectionsANU School of Culture, History and Language
Title: Ethnobotany of the Tari Basin, Papua New Guinea
Author(s): Haberle, Simon
Keywords: Southern Highland province
Tari basin
Papua New Guinea
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : PalaeoWorks, Dept. of Archaeology & Natural History, Research School of Pacific & Asian Studies, The Australian National University
Series/Report no.: PalaeoWorks Technical Report: No. 6
The natural vegetation of New Guinea is extremely diverse, with many different plant communities occupying the varied terrain from coastal flats to high mountain slopes (Paijmans, 1976). The Huli people occupy the Tari Basin and adjacent limestone valleys and slopes at altitudes between 1600m and 2700m in the Southern Highland Province of Papua New Guinea. Swampland, grassland, gardens and regrowth forest form a mosaic of vegetation types at the lower altitudes while forest covers most of the steep slopes and ridges. The surrounding mountains are primarily of volcanic origin and rise to around 3560m. This contribution to the botany and ethnobotany of the area brings together a number of diverse botanically related studies conducted over the last 25 years and is designed to be of general interest to researchers working in the region. Ethnobotany of the Tari Basin, S.H.P., Papua New Guinea, is a compilation of species known to occur within the basin and incorporates into this list information on life form, Huli name and potential use by the Huli. The variety of plant life within the basin is brought out by the fact that there are at least 1162 different species present and that probably over 30% of these are used in some way by the Huli. Classification of different plants is based primarily on form. There tends to be a direct relationship between the economic value of a given plant and recognition of varieties by the Huli of that plant. Sweet potato (Ipomoea batatas) has at least 171 Huli names recorded and are distinguished on characteristics such as, tuber colour and size and leaf shape. Pandanus julianettii and Taro (Colocasia esculenta) are two other examples of plants that have undergone detailed varietal classification by the Huli. Data on the collectors and herbarium numbers has also been included in the lists as a general indication of collection location and habitat.


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