Gaining momentum: Popularization of Epilobium angustifolium as food and recreational tea on the Eastern edge of Europe

Raivo Kalle, Olga Belichenko, Natalia Kuznetsova, Valeria Kolosova, Julia Prakofjewa, Nataliya Stryamets, Giulia Mattalia, Povilas Šarka, Andra Simanova, Baiba Prūse, Ieva Mezaka, Renata Sõukand

Risultato della ricerca: Contributo in rivistaAbstractpeer review

10 Citazioni (Scopus)


The local use of wild food plants represents a reservoir for the biocultural diversity of human diet and is therefore being extensively studied; yet the effects of the introduction of novel uses into specific biocultural conditions have been little researched. Rosebay willowherb Epilobium angustifolium L. has been intensively promoted in Europe since the mid-18th century. The expert recommendations did not provide any links to local uses thus raising the question of the legitimacy and diffusion of its food use in modern times. To understand if and to what extent those recommendations have influenced local uses, we compared them with the results of our ethnobotanical field study and the ethnographic literature in Russia, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus and Ukraine. Of the 599 people interviewed, nine used E. angustifolium as a food and 59 as a recreational tea. Thirty-four of those who claimed to use E. angustifolium lived in two regions of Russia. The majority of the recorded tea uses were of recent origin, following a popular trend. Few food uses of E. angustifolium were recorded in Finland, where a trend towards culinary experimentation coincides with a general trend toward the consumption of healthy wild food; yet these uses are difficult to maintain due to the problems in recognizing the plant during its early stages of growth. The popularization of E. angustifolium as a food had more effect in times of hardship, when it was seen as a means of survival and its promotion was advocated. The translation error repeatedly appeared in botanical and later popular literature, whose authors did not clearly differentiate at that time between local uses and suggestions.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)1-12
Numero di pagine12
Stato di pubblicazionePubblicato - 2020


  • Circumpolar plant use
  • Ecocultural context
  • Epilobium angustifolium
  • Knowledge transmission
  • Popularizing literature
  • Recreational tea
  • Wild food plants


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