Ethnobotany is the study of the relationship between plants and people. It involves the knowledge of plant classification, cultivation and practical uses for food, medicine, rituals and materials of traditional human cultures. The Curvital website contains Ethnobotanical data of Curaçao.

The flora of Curaçao is just as diverse as our culture. We have influences from all continents of the world. Before the introduction of supermarkets and drugstores, forests and botanical gardens made it possible for our ancestors to take care of themselves. Back then, it was the cultural norm for humans to produce their own food, make medicines and materials from wild and/or domesticated plants. Therefore, in order to take care of themselves, foreigners who migrated to Curaçao brought seeds and plants from their country and introduced them to the natural environment of the island. Thus part of their culture was preserved in the natural habitat of Curaçao. If you now look in the wild on Curaçao, you can identify the different plants species that have been introduced from other countries and understand the influence that they had on the culture of Curaçao.

The challenges

Knowledge loss and Plant blindness

Plants are fundamental for the existence of all living things on earth. The biggest challenges that the world currently faces, including food security, medicine, desertification and waste management can be solved using knowledge of plants and nature.
Over the years, advances in modern technology have facilitated almost every aspect of our daily life’s and therefore reduced the need of the public to be informed about plants for survival. Humanity has become disconnected from nature.

People tend to see plants as background of life and are unable to recognize them in their own environment. This a worldwide phenomenon is known as “Plant blindness”. Plants blindness results in the underappreciation of plants and limits the public interest in plant science, cultivation and conservation. Due to the lack of interest, over time, the information of plants could eventually get lost.

Scattered data

A great deal of information about the ethnobotanical use of the plants of Curaçao has been documented already and more information 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. and besides not all data is available in digital form. This makes it difficult to identify plants and understand their practical uses.

Goals

Find all data in one place

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

Up-to-date information

The Curvital database will be periodically updated according to the Kew standard. This standard is user-friendly so that users can help with the knowledge acquisition, data collection and data distribution. Data from the database will be accessible for everyone. Furthermore, the database contains a form for users to add additional information.

Preservation of knowledge and wisdom

Anyone can add information to the database by using the option “Add data”. For instance, grandchildren can add plant information that they have obtained from listening to stories from their grandparents. All data of the database will be analyzed and evaluated through peer-reviewed literature to make sure that the shared information is reliable. In this way, valuable and reliable information of the plants will continue to expand.

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