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Research article2023Peer reviewedOpen access

"Cow Healers Use It for Both Horses and Cattle": The Rise and Fall of the Ethnoveterinary Use of Peucedanum ostruthium (L.) Koch (fam. Apiaceae) in Sweden

de Vahl, Erik; Mattalia, Giulia; Svanberg, Ingvar


Masterwort, Peucedanum ostruthium (L.) Koch, is an Apiaceae species originally native to the mountain areas of central and southern Europe. Written sources show that it was used in northern Europe. This study explores the cultivation history of masterwort and its past use in Sweden. Although only few details are known about the history of this taxon, it represents a cultural relict plant of an intentionally introduced species known in Sweden as early as the Middle Ages. In Sweden, the masterwort was mainly used as an ethnoveterinary herbal remedy from the seventeenth to nineteenth centuries. However, medicinal manuals, pharmacopoeias and some ethnographical records indicate that it was once also used in remedies for humans. Today, this species remains as a living biocultural heritage in rural areas, especially on the surviving shielings, which were once used as mountain pastures in Dalecarlia, and at former crofts that were inhabited by cattle owners in the forest areas of southern Sweden.


cultural relict plants; herbal remedies; historical ethnobotany; living biocultural heritage; silvopastoral system

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2023, Volume: 12, number: 1, article number: 116

    Sustainable Development Goals

    SDG15 Life on land

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