Traditional and Current Knowledge on the Utilization of Mahua (Madhuca latifolia L.) Flowers by the Santhal Tribe in Similipal Biosphere Reserve, Odisha, India

Author(s): S. Behera1, R. C. Ray2*, M. R. Swain3, R. C. Mohanty,1 and A. K. Biswal4


Mahua (Madhuca latifolia L.) (also called as mahua) is a tree commonly found in mixed deciduous forests of Asian and Australian Continents, often growing on rocky and sandy soils. The various parts of this tree serve as food, feed, and medicine, thus form a part and parcel in the sustainability of livelihood of the tribal people. A study was conducted in 2009 among the people of Santhal tribe in Odisha, India to get information (traditional and current) on the uses of this tree species, particularly on its edible flowers. The study area concentrated in and around the deep forest pockets of Chandbill village of Bangiriposi Block on the northern border of the Similipal Biosphere Reserve, Odisha. This tree species is found to substantially contribute to all sectors of tribal economy like food (flowers), beverage (flowers), and medicine (flowers, seeds and bark). Mahua flowers are fermented in to a distilled alcoholic beverage (country liquor, locally called “mahuli ”) in household and commercial scale. Mahuli, having an alcohol percentage of 30-40 %, is used as a supplement to rice as staple diet in their food habit.

Keywords : Alcoholic beverages, Mahua, Traditional knowledge, Tribal people.

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