Singing the nature - еthnobotanical knowledge in Bulgarian folk songs

keywords: Balkans, ecosystem services, folklore, symbolic plants


Background: Bulgarian poetic folklore reflects an agrarian culture deeply connected with land and nature. However, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) transmitted through Bulgarian folklore is scarcely assessed.

Questions: What are the dimensions of the TEK related to plant diversity (native and introduced) that appear in Bulgarian folk songs and what is their potential as transmitters of ТЕК?

Data description: The lyrics of 10,113 Bulgarian folk songs were excerpted from major academic collections and a set of unpublished songs.

Study site and dates: Current study covers songs that have been documented since mid-19th century onwards in the present and former Bulgarian territories and in areas that have been inhabited by ethnic Bulgarians abroad.

Methods: Common plant names and descriptions of plants and landscapes were used to detect botanical affiliations of the denoted plants. We focused on frequencies of plant representations and their functions associated with cultural, agricultural and food-processing practices.

Results: A total of 146 plant taxa from 109 genera were mentioned in 47.3 % of the studied songs. Over 60 % of the most frequently mentioned taxa were archaeophytes while neophytes were represented by seven taxa, denoting everyday and spiritual importance of nature.

Conclusions: Bulgarian folk songs presented wide range of nature-related information typically reported for ethnic groups outside Europe. Quantification of TEK preserved in documented poetic folklore and further assessment of performance of nature-rich folklore would allow development additional tools for evaluation of cultural significance of species, landscapes and ecosystems as well as for development of educational and inspirational materials.


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Singing the nature - еthnobotanical knowledge in Bulgarian folk songs


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How to Cite
Ivanova, T., Ganeva-Raicheva, V., Bosseva, Y., & Dimitrova, D. (2021). Singing the nature - еthnobotanical knowledge in Bulgarian folk songs. Botanical Sciences, 99(2), 321-341.