SC/SS 115 Ethnobotany Traditional Plants of Pohnpei

Each term the ethnobotany kicks off the off-campus field trips with a journey to the magical world of the Traditional Plants of Pohnpei ethnobotanical garden. Totoa Fetalai-Currie introduces the garden to the students.

Toa speaks
Toa speaks to the class.

Listening to Toa: Krystal Tesiann Tracy
Listening to Toa

Each term there is a perceptible decay in the plant knowledge of the students. This term appears to have hit a new low in devolution. The loss of plant names and uses was pervasive across the class. In a change from prior terms, the few local plant names that were known by students were plants known by students from Chuuk state. The Pohnpei state students seemed broadly at a loss of ability to name a number of different plants.


Toa asks about the Peipei eni fern.

Peipei eni had been encountered in a prior class, and one student recalled a use for this medicinal fern.


The future hopes of retaining ethnobotanical knowledge rest on thin line of a few students. A deep concern for the culture and traditions and their retention has led to what might be called a tough love approach to teaching and learning. As the noted educational theorist Paulo Freire once said while speaking to educators at the University of Illinois, "education is love." Both for a subject matter and for the students with whom one hopes to entrust that most priceless of possessions, knowledge.