Few ethnobiological studies have thus far addressed the effect of diverse social, economic, and political variables that may influence the dynamics of folk plant knowledge. The aim of this work was to better understand the legacy of plant use in the post-Soviet context—particularly in Western Ukraine—by documenting the use of wild plants for food among Boykos living in Transcarpathia and comparing the findings with the results of a previous study conducted among their close neighbors, Bukovinian Hutsuls, living on the other side of the mountains. We documented the use of 35 taxa belonging to 20 families, mostly represented by Rosaceae species. The most popular taxa were Vaccinium sp. and Carum carvi, while the most popular emic food domain was represented by recreational teas, i.e., teas that are not drunk with the aim to obtain a precise therapeutic activity. The main finding, however, was that the difference between the wild food ethnobotany of the Boykos and Hutsuls was far more restricted than the ethnobotanical disparity that was recorded between Bukovinian Hutsuls living on the two sides of the state border (created seven decades ago) between Ukraine and Romania. This outcome may have important implications in ethnobiology, confirming the possible “homogenizing” effect played by the Communist period in the former Soviet Union, possibly due to Soviet agrarian reforms, obligations to work in collective farms (kolkhozes), and the considerable lessening of serendipitous contact with the natural environment.
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Vol. 37 • No. 2