Philosophical investigations in ethnobotany

Lichens have a weird naming history. They have been and continue to be classified outside the formal Linnaean system by both lichenologists and indigenous naturalists such as the Sámi and Sherpa. These informal nomenclatural practices encode knowledge about the physiology of lichen symbionts, their economic use as the basis of textile dyes, as an ingredient in bread and beer-making, the source of medicine and as a critical foodstuff central to reindeer husbandry. These diverse nomenclatures can contribute to understanding not only in ethnobotany, history, and physiology, but also in metaphysics. I explore strategies of knowledge integration, paying attention to the purposes for which lichens are named and the ontologies employed to ground lichen names.