The aim of the article is to discuss possible problems faced by researchers studying the traditional use of plants in Poland. One of the main issues is the discrepancy between the folk taxonomy and Polish scientific names. It is often the case that a Polish scientific name assigned arbitrarily to a certain genus was actually extensively used by common people to name different genera. Sometimes the confusion is caused by the different meaning of certain folk names in different parts of Poland. The paper also discusses which Latin names should be given to folk generics that refer to one or a few botanical species (e.g. lipa - linden), whether they should be labelled with only the scientific generics (Tilia sp.) or with the most commonly used botanical species (Tilia cordata), or whether they should be given a more detailed description ('mainly Tilia cordata and possibly T. platyphyllos'). In this article botanical mistakes in Polish ethnographic studies are discussed and a list of the most confusing taxa is given. Besides, the author lists a few taxa often omitted or not properly recognised in ethnographic studies. The author suggests some ways to improve the quality of ethnobotanical research. These are: the use of specimens, recording informant consensus, interviewing informants in the field (in the plants' habitat), and cross-checking the gathered material (herbarium specimens, plant photos and names) with a plant taxonomy specialist.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.