A comparative ethnobotanical study among the tribal communities of Chittagong Hill Tracts Districts, Bangladesh
The indigenous communities living within the forests of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) have long been a source of admiration as they possess a unique understanding of, and ability to utilise, the plants around them. The present work presents a comparative ethnobotanical study of the tribal communities of CHT of Bangladesh. The five largest tribal communities (Chakma, Marma, Murong, Tanchangya and Tripura) inhabiting the three districts of CHT (Bandarban, Khagrachari and Rangamati) were investigated and data on their use of plants were obtained by discussions with tribal informants. The discussions were tape recorded, data documentation sheets prepared with the help of interpreter and a set of photographs were taken during the visits. Data on 363 plants species including 8 varieties and 1 subspecies used by the five tribes were given and include all important aspects of their plant utilization (medicinals, foods, tools, crafts, dye, insecticides and house making). A brief description of the study area, climate, topography and vegetation is provided. Each utilised species is listed together with short notes on its habit and habitat and uses attributable to the different tribal communities. In addition, reference to literature of pharmacological activity is presented wherever available for each species or genus where relevant to support or substantiate the claimed traditional medicinal use(s) of the plant. The geography of the study area, origin, culture and customs of the five tribes is discussed and used to explain the variation found in plant use. A very low conformity in plant use was observed among the tribes. Only the Chakma and Tanchangya have the similar origin and language and utilise a similar assemblage of medicinal plants. They are distinctly different from the other tribes in the medicinal plants they utilise. The knowledge of medicinals is much greater than that of the Murong, Marma and Tripura and these groups sometimes utilise the skills of the Chakma and Tanchangya by direct contact with their medicine men.