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Ethnobotany Minutes on WFWM

The Ethnobotany Minutes are a collaboration between Frostburg State University’s radio station WFWM and past Introduction to Ethnobotany students.  In this experiential learning task students were asked to research an ethnobotanical topic of their choice, write a research paper on this topic, and then create a radio skit that would inform the local public about concepts in ethnobotany.   We hope you enjoy!


Track #1 Community Supported Agriculture (CSA)

Are you aware of where your food comes from or the time manpower and resources that go into giving you the ability to buy your food? Many people are realizing that a highly industrialized system that ships our food from thousands of miles away is less than ideal when compared to community-supported agriculture, also known as a CSA.

Click here to listen and learn

Credits: Suzy Snow, Mimi Hernandez

Additional Resources:

 University of Maryland CSA Listing


Track #2  The Paw Paw

One of the most historically influential fruits native to this region is the pawpaw.  Reminiscent of both bananas and mangos, this mid-sized fruit which contains large, dark-colored seeds has long been renowned for its unique flavor and custard-like texture.  

Click here to listen and learn

Credits: Andrew Shadel, Joseph Sauceda, Mimi Hernandez

Additional Resources:

Kentucky State University Pawpaw Program

NPR Video The Pawpaw: Foraging for America’s Forgotten Fruit by Allison Aubrey

Way Down Yonder  Naturalist Doug Elliott blogs about Pawpaw


Track #3  A Traditional Pine Needle Tea

Pines and other evergreen trees are often only significant in our culture as the focus of holiday greeting cards and living room centerpieces.  To Native Americans, pioneers and hikers, throughout Appalachia and abroad, these plants mean much more. Traditionally, teas made from these plants provided sources of nutrition and medicine, especially over the fall and winter months as other species became dormant.

Click here to listen and learn

Credits:  Benjamin Brown, Mimi Hernandez

Additional Resources:

White Pine, Tall Tree of the Eastern Forests by Violet Snow

Bridget Mars blogs about the health benefits of pine


Track #4 Alien Plant Species in Appalachia

The Appalachian mountain range is home to numerous plant species, all of which can be divided into two categories: native and alien.  Native species occur in the region where they evolved without human intervention.  Alien or exotic species have been introduced into areas outside of their historical natural range. 

Click here to listen and learn

Credits:  Bianca Temple, Mimi Hernandez

Additional Resources:

Maryland Native Plant Society Mountain Chapter

Maryland DNR Invasive and Exotic Species


Track #5  Real or Natural Christmas Trees?

In 2002, 20% of homes had a real Christmas tree, while 50% had an artificial Christmas tree.  When a person buys an artificial Christmas tree, it lasts roughly 4-6 years before being disregarded in the landfills where they will stay for thousands of years.   When a real Christmas tree is recycled at your local landfill, they are used for shelter for animals, barriers for beach and soil erosion and may be used for mulch.

Click here to listen and learn

Credits:  Andrew Dougherty , Mimi Hernandez

Additional Resources:

Maryland Christmas Tree Association

Allegany County Tree Composting Drop off Sites


Track #6  Maple Syrup in Appalachia

As spring approaches Appalachia, before birds or flowers return, even before snow melts, the sugar maple tree is already hard at work drawing its winter reserves of sugar and sap up from its roots and into its branches.   For centuries, people have tapped sugar maple trees to make the well-known condiment, maple syrup.

Click here to listen and learn

Credits:  Ruth LaCourse , Mimi Hernandez

Additional Resources:

Maryland DNR Maple Syrup Events

Savage River Lodge Maple Camp


Track #8  Wild Ramps!  Mountain Onions of Appalachia

Spring has come to Appalachia, bringing with it brilliant shades of white, purple, yellow and red as bloodroots, wintercress, violets and trilliums paint the forest floor, almost taking turns.   Hiding beneath the foliage, the New Year’s greatest gift, wild ramps, whoo-ey!  In Appalachia, they are as celebrated a wild edible as maple syrup or honey.  Click here to listen and learn

Credits:  Jeremy Sidebottom, Mimi Hernandez

Additional Resources:

Cultivating Ramps: Wild Leeks of Appalachia  by Jeanine M. Davis and Jacqulyn Greenfield

The Ramp Project- Non Timber Forest Product  by James Chamberlain



The Ethnobotany Minutes voices are those of Andrew Shadel and Ruth LaCourse

Special Thanks to Chuck Dicken of WFWM  and Mimi Hernandez from the Appalachian Center for Ethnobotanical Studies for helping to coordinate this project and to Amanda Vickers for editing content.