Wild and native plants and mushrooms sold in the open-air markets of south-eastern Poland

J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016 Oct 7;12(1):45. doi: 10.1186/s13002-016-0117-8.


Background: The study of plants and fungi sold in open-air markets is an important part of ethnobotanical enquiry. Only few such studies were carried out in Europe.

Methods: Four of the largest open-air markets of south-eastern Poland were visited regularly, and the plants sold in them were recorded between 2013 and 2015. The aim of the study was to record native and/or wild species sold in the markets. All the plants sold in the markets were photographed regularly. In each market, 25 sellers were interviewed. Voucher specimens were collected and fungi were identified using DNA barcoding.

Results: Altogether, 468 species of plants were recorded, 117 of them native to south-eastern Poland - 19 only collected from the wild and 11 both wild and cultivated. Seventeen of the species are under legal protection. Most protected plants were sold from cultivation, although proper authorization procedures had not been performed. Thirty-two species of fungi were sold (including two cultivated species), all of them for culinary purposes. Two species (Lactarius quieticolor, Leccinum schistophilum) are new to the mycobiota of Poland. Ornamental plants constituted a large section of the market, and they dominated the group of native species. Food plants dominated among wild-collected plants and were sold mainly as fruits for jams, juices and alcoholic drinks, or as culinary herbs. Very few medicinal or green vegetable plants were sold. An interesting feature of the markets was the sale of Ledum palustre as an insect repellent.

Conclusions: Finding two species of fungi which are new to Poland highlights the importance of DNA barcoding in ethnomycological studies. Most items in the markets are ornamental plants, or edible fruits and mushrooms. Very few medicinal plants and green vegetables are sold, which differentiates the markets from southern European ones. Such a pattern is probably the model for most central European markets.

Keywords: Conservation; DNA bar-coding; Ethnobotany; Ethnomycology; Fungi; Medicinal plants; Protected plants.

MeSH terms

  • Agaricales*
  • DNA Barcoding, Taxonomic
  • Ethnobotany*
  • Plants, Edible
  • Plants, Medicinal
  • Poland