About the project

Ethnobotany is the study of the relationship between the plants and people of a particular region or culture. It involves the knowledge of plant classification, cultivation and the practical applications for food, medicine, rituals and materials of traditional value to the people of a region or culture. The Curvital website contains the Ethnobotanical Data of Curaçao.

More information

The flora of Curaçao is just as diverse as our culture. We have cultural influences from almost all continents of the world. Before the creation of supermarkets and drugstores, our ancestors took care of themselves by using what they found in forests. Back then, it was the cultural norm for people to produce their own food and make medicines and materials from wild and/or domesticated plants. Thus, foreigners who immigrated to Curaçao brought indigenous seeds and plants from their countries and introduced them to the natural environment of the island, in order to be able to take care of themselves.

Consequently, part of their culture was preserved in the natural habitat of Curaçao. Nowadays, if you observe the wilderness of Curaçao, you can identify the different plant species that were introduced a long time ago by the immigrants and thus, you can understand the influence that they have on the culture of Curaçao.

The challenges

Data loss and Plant blindness

Plants are of the utmost importance to the existence and survival of all living things on Earth. Some of the biggest challenges that the world currently faces, for example food and medication insecurity, desertification and inefficient waste management could be solved by using knowledge from plants and nature.

Over the years, advances in modern technology have facilitated almost every aspect of our daily lives; consequently, humanity’s need to be informed about the use of plants for survival has been significantly reduced. Simply stated, humanity has become disconnected from nature.

People tend to see plants as life’s background/decoration, as it were, and are unaware of themselves in their own environment. This a worldwide phenomenon known as “plant blindness”. Plant blindness is the underappreciation of plants which limits people’s interest in plant science, cultivation and conservation. Over time, due to this lack of interest, the data/knowledge about plants might eventually be lost.

Scattered data

A great deal of information about the ethnobotanical use of Curaçao’s plants has already been documented and there might even be more information that has yet to be discovered. Basic plant information can easily be found; however, the information is mostly found scattered across books, scientific literature, articles etc.

Furthermore, not all data is available in digital form which makes it difficult to identify plants and learn/understand their practical uses.

Goals

All data in one place

The goal of the Curvital website is to compile all the scattered ethnobotanical data of Curaçao into one database. With an extensive search function, it will be possible, for instance, to search for all plant species with yellow flowers in Curaçao that have a medicinal use.

Up-to-date information

The Curvital database will be periodically updated according to the Kew standard. This standard is so simple and easy that its users can help with knowledge acquisition, data collection and data distribution. Data from the database will be accessible to everyone.

Moreover, the database will contain a form for users to add any additional information. 

Preservation of knowledge and wisdom

Anyone can add information to the database by using the “Add Data” function. For example,
grandchildren can add any plant information that they have obtained from listening to stories
from their grandparents. All of the data on the database will be analyzed and evaluated by using
peer-reviewed literature to ensure that the shared information is valid and correct. Thus,
valuable and reliable information of Curacao’s plants will be acquired and amplified.

Meet the Team

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