Christopher Kitalong and his colleagues in Palau, gathering delal a kar and interviewing Palauans about its use.
Phaleria nisidai belongs to the order Malvales, a diverse group that includes such familiar plants as balsa, cacao, cola, and cotton.
The search is on for other plants that might be able to yield medicines to treat the scourge of Type II diabetes. In a 2012 paper, N. Hemaltha and her colleagues at the Pharmacognosy Research Laboratory in Varanasi, India, called out the following species for special attention. All contain insulin-mimicking compounds.
garlic, miracle fruit, tumba, bitter melon, and banyan tree.
Source: NIH Library of Medicine
The Pima people (Akimel O’odham) of central and southern Arizona are suffering from Type II diabetes, with among the highest rates in the world. But researchers are working with the tribes people to help them switch from a diet of fast food back to some of the native foods on which the Pima once relied, including cholla buds, mesquite meal, tepary beans, acorns from live oaks, and seeds from chia, sunflower, and pumpkin.
You can learn more about ethnobotany, and how to participate as a citizen scientist, at the website of the nonprofit Botanical Dimensions, founded by ethnobotanist Kathleen Harrison.
You can also learn more through these classic books.
Plotkin, Mark J. 1994. Tales of a Shaman’s Apprentice: An Ethnobotanist Searches for New Medicines in the Amazon Rain Forest. New York: Penguin Books.
Minnis, Paul. 2000. Ethnobotany: A Reader. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
Balick, Michael J. and Paul Alan Cox. 2005. Plants, People, and Culture: The Science of Ethnobotany. New York: New York Botanical Garden.