Over the years as I have wandered further down the Green Path, one name has kept consistently cropping up in ethnobotanical circles.
That person is Lukasz Luczaj, associate professor and head of the Department of Botany at the University of Rzeszow, Poland.
I’d always wanted to meet and interview him.
It was self-evident to me that his depth of knowledge of wild edible plants was, quite simply, extraordinary.
His pet subject is the traditional use of wild foods in Eurasia.
Finally, I managed to catch up with Lukasz just before he gave the Annual Distinguished Ethnobotanist Lecture 2018 at Kew Gardens.
I strongly urge you to listen to this interview.
One thing I learnt was that buttercups are eaten in some cultures. In the UK, they are considered poisonous.
But be warned.
This isn’t a license to nip outside, grab any old buttercup and start shoving them down your throat. They need to be processed properly!
You’ve got to love ethnobotany. So listen in as Lukasz encourages you to begin the journey down this incredible plant path. There are wonders still to be discovered and explored.
The downside of this interview is that I failed to take into account that Kew Gardens is directly underneath a flight path. Still, you only get the occasional aeroplane noise in the background.
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About Lukasz Luczaj
Lukasz Luczaj is associate professor and head of the Department of Botany in the Faculty of Biotechnology of the University of Rzeszow, Poland.
His main interest is the traditional use of wild foods in Eurasia. He has carried out field research in Poland, Romania, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Georgia (Caucasus) and China.
In China, he works both with Chinese and Tibetan communities of the Qinling Mountains and eastern part of the Tibetan Plateau. He is also interested in archival sources concerning plant uses – he worked extensively with archives concerning Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine and Belarus.
He also co-edited a book entitled Pioneers in European Ethnobiology (with Ingvar Svanberg, Uppsala University Press).
In 2011, Lukasz founded an open-access Polish-language journal Etnobiologia Polska. He is the editor of Ethnobotany section in Acta Societatis Botanicorum Poloniae (the oldest Polish botanical journal) and associate editor in Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine.
Apart from the work in Academia, he runs an educational centre and wild garden in the Carpathians where he organises cooking workshops with wild plants, fungi and insects.
Lukasz authored a few popular books on edible plants, insects and foraging way of life, as well as appearing on a few cooking television programmes (all in Polish). He also runs a YouTube channel devoted to wild foods.