Use of Capsicum frutescens in Weno, Romanum, and Piis islands, Chuuk Atoll, Federated States of Micronesia

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The local nomenclature and usage of Capsicum in Weno, Romanum, and Piis islands,Chuuk Atoll, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), were surveyed to investigatethe relationship between people and Capsicum with a focus on dispersal routes,ethnobotany, and food security. Two species of Capsicum, C. annuum and C. frutescens,are cultivated in Chuuk Atoll, but C. frutescens, especially the green type, is a commonseasoning in the daily diet of locals and has become an important and indispensable condiment. Capsicum peppers are called "mwik (mwiik)" in Chuuk Atoll, which is ofunknown origin. People used C. frutescens in various ways: as a condiment (fresh fruitsand fruits soaked in the water of mature coconuts), vegetable (leaves), and medicine(fruits and/or seed for treating toothaches, fruits for eliminating the stomach parasiteknown as" nikanipwun", roots for an ointment to treat skin wounds, fruits for treatingsick domestic fowl, and fruits for boosting energy of gamecocks after fighting).However, with modernization, residents of Chuuk Atoll have been eating fewer C. frutescens leaves in recent years. The FSM has faced serious public health problemsdue to a new diet and other lifestyle changes especially from the 1980s, and thegovernment, non-governmental organizations, and many researchers have attemptedto promote a return to local foods because of their higher carotenoid and vitamincontents compared to modern foods. On small islands and atolls, imported foods andmedicines may not arrive for more than a month if a typhoon or an oil crisis occurs.Therefore, for food security, it is imperative to re-discover plants already naturalized on each island. From this perspective, an important candidate plant is C. frutescens,which can serve not only as a spice but also as a vegetable rich in carotenoids andvitamins. Capsicum frutescens has long been naturalized in these regions; therefore, itdoes not need to be cultivated and its fruits and leaves can be harvested throughoutthe year. To improve public health on Pacific islands, there should be renewed focuson plants that are already naturalized on each island.


  • 南太平洋海域調査研究報告=Occasional papers

    南太平洋海域調査研究報告=Occasional papers (53), 77-89



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