|About the Book|
This Study combines botany, ethnography, and history to describe the use and administration of botanical resources on Puna Island in Ecuador. Evidence of sustained human settlements on the Island -- strategically located in the Gulf of Guayaquil --MoreThis Study combines botany, ethnography, and history to describe the use and administration of botanical resources on Puna Island in Ecuador. Evidence of sustained human settlements on the Island -- strategically located in the Gulf of Guayaquil -- date back more than 5000 years to the Early Formative Period. This island and its flora and vegetation are intricately linked to the development of the earliest pre-Columbian agrarian and maritime civilizations. After European contact in the 15th century, the island became an important centre for trade and its extensive forests were an important resource for the ship-building industry of the entire South Pacific.This book provides information on the Islands geography, geology, climate, socioeconomy, infrastructure, and history of botanical exploration. The vegetation of the island is described in terms of plant communities, structure, floristic composition, dynamics, and phenology. A chapter is devoted to the history of plant use from the pre-Columbian epoch and up to the present day. The famous balsa rafts with sails made of domesticated native cotton impressed the Spanish naval engineers and sailors. In the 16th century, Lima, the Peruvian capital, was build on mangrove woods exploited from Puna Island and the Gulf of Guayaquil. Present day ethnobotany on the island is presented and it is shown that vernacular plant names suggest separate dialect areas.This is the first documented flora for Puna Island. It contains brief descriptions and keys to identification of all 431 known native and naturalised plant species on the Island. Approximately 15% of the Islands plant species are endemic to southwestern Ecuador and adjacent Peru, and23% are shared with the Galapagos Islands. The area of distribution, uses, and phenology of the various species is also described. The main cultivated plants are also listed with notes on uses, origin and introduction to the Island. This study of the vegetation on one island offers more than plant information, it also provides an insight into the conditions under which the inhabitants lived and used the available flora.