Historical Plant Use in Laos from
Accounts of European Exploration
Department of Botany, North Carolina State University, USA
The study of European texts on Laos, from the 16th-19th centuries, offers an examination of the evolution of both Lao and European culture. Investigating the plant use described by Europeans reveals a possible shift in traditional environmental knowledge (TEK) by the native Lao. Many of the plants described in the texts were used medicinally and some have been examined for modern pharmaceutical use. These pharmaceutical studies have substantiated the effectiveness of historical medicinal plant use. The texts also describe plants that were used in religious ceremonies and continue to play an important role in Lao culture. Understanding the plants that are important to the native Lao in the past can lead to better methods of conservation in the future.