We studied the medicinal plants used by the Popoluca of the Sierra de Santa Marta (eastern Mexico). Using Moerman’s method of regression analysis we determined which ethnomedically used taxa are over-represented in the Popolucan pharmacopoeia (e.g., Asteraceae) and which are underrepresented (e.g., Orchidaceae). Moerman et al. (1999) found high correlation between the holarctic pharmacopoeias and assumed that apart from the relatedness of the northern floras a “global pattern of human knowledge” may account for this finding. Although the Popoluca dwell in a habitat dominated by a neotropical flora but intermixed with important holarctic elements, they include considerably fewer neotropical taxa in their pharmacopoeia as one would expect if the historical transmitted knowledge were influencing their selection. This finding confirms the theory stated by Moerman et al. However, the Popoluca include some neotropical taxa in their pharmacopoeia and thus a moderate correlation exists between the Popolucan pharmacopoeia and the neotropical pharmacopoeia analysed by Moerman et al. We therefore conclude that apart from historically transmitted knowledge about specific taxa the “global pattern of human knowledge” addressed by Moerman et al. is largely based on “common selection criteria.”
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Vol. 57 • No. 2