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Traditional ecological knowledge refers to knowledge regarding the relationships between humans and the natural environment. This knowledge and skill set is acquired by local and indigenous peoples through generations of direct contact with the environment, and is often shared in an intergenerational pattern of verbal retelling and instruction. Traditional medicine is one component of traditional ecological knowledge, and this paper outlines the investigation of traditional medicine usage and the transmission of such knowledge in three villages near Phnom Kulen National Park in Siem Reap, Cambodia. The study was conducted through semi-structured interviews at homes that were both randomly and purposively selected. The data collected regarding plant names, both Khmer vernacular and — after identification using outside resources — Latin scientific names was recorded into the School for Field Studies list of medicinal plants found near Phnom Kulen National Park. A total of 111 plants were described by 27 interviewees, and 82 species of the 111 were new additions to the aforementioned plant list. Fifty-two species described are used for treatment during pregnancy and the postpartum period, while other common medicinal purposes include treatment of cold or flu symptoms, or of stomach ache or diarrhea. The respondents ranged in age from 27 to 81 years old, and each was able to describe some medicinal plants and their uses. Twenty-three respondents stated that they learned about traditional medicine from their parents or grandparents, which implies that intergenerational transmission of knowledge is the most common mechanism in the study locations. Overall, data from this study indicates that traditional ecological knowledge about traditional medicine is not being lost and traditional medicine is still widely utilized in the three villages.


The author, Kayla Deur, received the Distinguished Student Researcher Award from the School for Field Studies for her work on this research project.