WP1.3: Case Study Montserrat

Tradition in using medicinal plants in Montserrat originate from shared histories between the Amerindians and enslaved peoples [1, 2]. Over a quarter of the medicinal plants (“weed and bush”) found on Montserrat are from the “Old World” [2, 3]. Some weeds are categorised as invasive, but they were also lifelines for Montserratians to cope with the violence of plantation life and colonialism. Medicinal plants have been used throughout the recorded history of the island [1]. Traditional knowledge is maintained with the use being transmitted orally from generation to generation.

The project wanted to attempt to answer the question: What is the role of colonialism in shaping the current perceptions of children and young people in Montserrat of “weeds and bush” known culturally as medicinal plants?

The medicinal uses of “weed and bush” for food and medicinal purposes is common within the older adult population of Montserrat, but this knowledge is being lost with modernization of society, the forced migration caused by the volcano and the inward migration of persons from different cultural backgrounds resulting in the failure to transfer the heritage to children and young persons [1]. 

This project explores, through oral histories, the role of medicinal plants from across the community on Montserrat (incl. school children, general public, medicinal plant practitioners, environment officers, farmers and herbalists) and where they see a future for using these plants. Supported by data collected through WP1.12, it explores how common plant names recognised today by Montserratians reflect the histories of the plants and how this knowledge was built up over time. Sharing knowledge of the use and importance of these plants will help both local communities and researchers in the UKOTs and UK understand how best to help Montserratians protect their cultural heritage.

Project Outputs

Here are some of the project outputs from the project January 2022-March 2023


1.Brussell, D.E. Econ. Bot., 2004. 58(1); 2.Berry, M.V. Southeastern Geo., 2003. 43(1); 3.Durberry, A.1973, University of the West Indies;