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1 September 2010 Vernacular Knowledge of Bromeliaceae Species Among the Wichí People of the Gran Chaco, Argentina
María Eugenia Suárez, Rodrigo M. Montani
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To illustrate and analyze how Bromeliaceae species are used, perceived and conceived by the Wichí people of the Semiarid Chaco, phytonomy, morphology, organoleptic characteristics and other features of the plants are described from a Wichí perspective, placing emphasis on an analysis of linguistic expressions. Fieldwork was carried out in five settlements located in the northeast region of the province of Salta, Argentina. The information was gathered through open-ended and semi-structured interviews as well as participant observation. Our results reveal a correlation between the importance of each species and the type of phytonym used to name it. The majority of names for plant parts are also used to refer to animal or human body parts; this polysemy is explained by functional, morphological and positional similarities, and mythical associations. Some organoleptic characteristics and the existence of a spirit “owner” of Bromeliaceae species suggest that they have features of animacy. For the Wichís, the Bromeliaceae are closely related and may comprise a distinct ethnocategory.

María Eugenia Suárez and Rodrigo M. Montani "Vernacular Knowledge of Bromeliaceae Species Among the Wichí People of the Gran Chaco, Argentina," Journal of Ethnobiology 30(2), 265-288, (1 September 2010).
Published: 1 September 2010
Gran Chaco
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