Ethnobotanist advocates adoption of “Odum” tree as a National Plant

A retired Taxonomist and Ethnobotanist at the University of Ghana Prof, Daniel Kwesi Abbiw

A retired Taxonomist and Ethnobotanist at the University of Ghana Prof, Daniel Kwesi Abbiw has advocated the adoption of the iroko tree popularly known as Odum as a National Plant. His Suggestion stems from the fact that the tree which can grow anywhere has qualities which has served various purposes for years especially in the building and construction industry.

Trees have been in existence since creation and have been useful to humanity and other species of life. Trees serve as windbreaks, prevents erosion and helps in formation of climatic conditions. Trees also provide food, protection and homes for birds and mammals.

Professor Daniel kwesi Abbiw is a Retired Taxonomist and Ethnobotanist, formerly with the University of Ghana. He has been dealing with plants since 1960 and has vast knowledge of plant species.

GBC News paid him a visit at his home to interact with him, to obtain his views on traditional medicine, current trends and how changes have affected the practice in the country, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

He took us round his residence which plays host to a plethora of plants and trees of different species. We enquired about the plants and trees and whether they serve any purposes to him and his family.

Professor Abbiw who has authored some publications on plants and tree species for domestic and foreign curricula, indicated that every plant or tree species has medicinal value which many do not know about.

Prof, Daniel Abbiw, who was born in 1939, but does not seem to have aged attributed his looks and strength to traditional medicine.

The 81-year-old professor has written two books. He highlighted one of the items in his collections titled, Useful plants of Ghana and the Traditional and Religious plants of West Africa.

Over the years there have been debates regarding efficacy of herbal medicine in complementing or as an alternative to orthodox medicine. Prof, Abbiw who has a sixty-year experience in studying plants and tree species was of the view that traditional or herbal medicine has and will continue to be reliable.

On why he is canvassing for the iroko tree also known as odum to be given national recognition, Prof, Abbiw said it has numerous beneficial qualities.

 The most talked about issue for some time now is COVID-19 and its attendant difficulties on economics and human lives. Countries have sunk huge amounts of money to produce vaccines against the pandemic.

According to professor Abbiw, all these interventions are good, but herbal medicine has a huge role to play in terms of boosting immune system. He cited the nim tree as potent plant that can withstand the effects of COVID-19. Traditional herbal practice must support government, he says.

Professor Abbiw was delighted that herbal medicine is now gaining the recognition it deserved. He said some health institutions are now recommending herbal treatment alongside orthodox medicines which is a good step. Traditional medicine practitioners, he noted must work hard to prove themselves, adding that the practice has bright prospects both home and abroad.

Professor Abbiw who retired from active service 22 years ago is involved in gardening and rears fish at his home to kill boredom. He has also found solace in music. He plays the organ and listens to music generated from the piano as a pastime. He said, he learnt to play the piano from his father during his school days.

Professor Abbiw advised the younger generation to read more because the culture is dying off. He indicated that education has no end and an adage which says” if you want to hide something from a black person, put it in a book “is being given credence by the attitude being exhibited by the present generation. Also, research is being relegated to the background, a situation that must be reversed as without research new knowledge cannot be generated to enhance development.

 Professor Daniel kwesi Abbiw wields a magic wand, and says he would ensure the Odum tree is recognised at the national level. Envisaged challenges notwithstanding, he has indicated his resolve to make this wish a reality. He has also written to authorities including the President to consider this proposition and champion this agenda.


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