Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize

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9780199965748: Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize
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Despite its small size, Belize is one of the most ecologically and culturally diverse nations in Central America. Over 3,400 species of plants can be found here, within a diversity of ecological habitats. Because of this, Belize is paradise for ecotourists, hosting over 900,000 visitors annually, who enjoy the natural habitat and friendly people of this nation. Many of the plants of Belize have a long history of being "useful," with properties that have served traditional herbal healers of the region as well as those who use plants as food, forage, fiber, ornament, in construction and ritual, along with many other purposes.

With Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize, Drs. Michael Balick and Rosita Arvigo give us the definitive resource on the many species of plants in Belize and their folklore, as well as the natural history of the region and a detailed discussion of "bush" uses of plants, including for traditional healing and life in the forest, past and present. Both Balick and Arvigo bring important perspectives to the project, Balick as ethnobotanical scientist from The New York Botanical Garden, and Arvigo as a former apprentice to a Belizean healer and an experienced physician. The book has been decades in the making, a culmination of a biodiversity research project that The New York Botanical Garden and international and local collaborators have had in motion since 1987. Drs. Balick, Arvigo and their colleagues have collected and identified thousands of plants from the region, and have worked extensively with hundreds of Belizean people, many of them herbal healers and bushmasters, to record uses for many of the species. This collaboration with local plant experts has produced a fascinating discussion of the intersection of herbal medicine and spiritual belief in the area, and these interviews are used to compliment and contextualize the numerous species accounts presented. The book is both a cultural study and a specialized field guide; information is provided on many different native and introduced plants in Belize and their traditional and contemporary uses including as food, medicine, fiber, in spiritual practices and many other purposes.

Richly illustrated with over 600 images and photographs, Messages from the Gods: A Guide to The Useful Plants of Belize will serve as the primary reference and guide to the ethnobotany of Belize for many years to come.

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From the Author:

The publication of Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize on May 11, 2015 by Oxford University Press and The New York Botanical Garden is the culmination of nearly three decades of research and writing on the plants traditionally used for many different purposes in this Central American Nation. This effort to study the plants and their uses of Belize--modern and ancient--originated in March of 1987 when Dr. Rosita Arvigo, a physician living in Belize, sent a letter to Dr. Michael Balick of The New York Botanical Garden discussing a newspaper article that had just appeared, outlining her interest in a global research program sponsored by the National Cancer Institute to investigate plants as potential anti-cancer therapies that the Botanical Garden was to help run. She wrote about her work, along with that of her husband Dr. Greg Shropshire, to catalog plant wisdom in Belize that "...was about to be lost to the world, because no one else seems to care about it--anywhere." Balick soon followed up with a visit to their farm, carved out of the Belizean forest, and they developed a program to catalog this endangered information, and inventory and conserve the plants upon which the information is based. During that visit, Arvigo, Shropshire and Balick began a friendship and collaboration that included years of field studies and lengthy expeditions to some of the most remote parts of the country, traveling by off road vehicle, canoe, helicopter, airplane and on foot.

Ethnobotany is the scientific study of the relationship between plants, people and culture. This book results from their efforts to record the wealth of ethnobotanical wisdom in Belize. Messages from the Gods provides information on nearly 900 species of plants found in Belize along a detailed discussion of "bush" uses of plants, including for traditional healing and life in the forest, past and present.  More than a traditional guidebook, the volume honors the healers and bushmasters who played such a prominent role in this program, through their enthusiasm, participation and guidance over many years. A section of the book entitled "In their own words" gives voice to these elders, many of whom are no longer with us, as they speak about their early lives, their philosophies as healers and concerns about the future. The book is both a cultural study and a specialized field guide. It is richly illustrated with color photographs, images from the LuEsther T. Mertz Library of The New York Botanical Garden and original line drawings by the noted artist Francesca Anderson. 

About the Author:


Dr. Michael J. Balick, PhD, is the Vice President for Botanical Science and Director & Philecology Curator of the Institute of Economic Botany at The New York Botanical Garden.

Dr. Rosita Arvigo, D.N., is a naprapathic physician with a clinical practice in Belize.

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Book Description Oxford University Press Inc, United States, 2015. Hardback. Condition: New. Language: English. Brand new Book. Despite its small size, Belize is one of the most ecologically and culturally diverse nations in Central America. Over 3,400 species of plants can be found here, within a diversity of ecological habitats. Because of this, Belize is paradise for ecotourists, hosting over 900,000 visitors annually, who enjoy the natural habitat and friendly people of this nation. Many of the plants of Belize have a long history of being "useful," with properties that have servedtraditional herbal healers of the region as well as those who use plants as food, forage, fiber, ornament, in construction and ritual, along with many other purposes. With Messages from the Gods: A Guide to the Useful Plants of Belize, Drs. Michael Balick and Rosita Arvigo give us the definitive resource on the many species of plants in Belize and their folklore, as well as the natural history of the region and a detailed discussion of "bush" uses of plants, including for traditional healing and life in the forest, past and present. Both Balick and Arvigo bring important perspectives to the project, Balick as ethnobotanical scientist from The NewYork Botanical Garden, and Arvigo as a former apprentice to a Belizean healer and an experienced physician. The book has been decades in the making, a culmination of a biodiversity research project that The New York Botanical Garden and international and local collaborators have had in motion since 1987. Drs.Balick, Arvigo and their colleagues have collected and identified thousands of plants from the region, and have worked extensively with hundreds of Belizean people, many of them herbal healers and bushmasters, to record uses for many of the species. This collaboration with local plant experts has produced a fascinating discussion of the intersection of herbal medicine and spiritual belief in the area, and these interviews are used to compliment and contextualize the numerous species accountspresented. The book is both a cultural study and a specialized field guide; information is provided on many different native and introduced plants in Belize and their traditional and contemporary uses including as food, medicine, fiber, in spiritual practices and many other purposes. Richly illustrated with over 600 images and photographs, Messages from the Gods: A Guide to The Useful Plants of Belize will serve as the primary reference and guide to the ethnobotany of Belize for many years to come. Seller Inventory # BTE9780199965748

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