Authors: Michael B. Thomas, Maria Fadiman, Ann H. Kitalong, and Pia Morei in partnership with the Belau National Museum
Publication: Thomas, M.B., M. Fadiman, A.H. Kitalong, and O. Morei. 2015. Palauan First-Birth (Ngasech and Omengat) Ceremonies plant checklist.
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Locality: Republic of Palau (7.345490, 134.472660)

Worldwide people are disconnecting from their traditional ceremonies and the plants that constitute the basis of culture. As environmental degradation occurs globally, indigenous peoples lose traditional ecological knowledge about what their ecosystems mean to them. People conserve what they value, and ceremonial plant use plays a central role in valuation systems (Fadiman, 2010). Combining the preservation of culture and environment is effective as indigenous people are more likely to take an interest in their natural world in how it connects to ceremonial traditions. In looking at Ngasech, the Palauan first born ceremony, through the lens of ethnobotany (people's relationship with plants), we will integrate the study of conservation of cultural and natural resources.

This initial study is the first part, a "proof of concept", for a larger project which will result in the publication of a series of booklets documenting the plant use of the other traditional Palauan ceremonies: ocheraol (building a new house), chebcchiil (marriage), kemeldiil (wake) and sis, omengades and cheldecheduch (post wake rituals). In 2016, we plan to apply for a Genographic Legacy Fund grant to create an inclusive record and analysis in collaboration with the Belau National Museum and participating communities so that current and future Palauan generations will have a permanent record and greater access to their cultural and ecological information.

Furthermore, the Pacific Islands environment is in particular danger in relation to climate change. Sea level rise is rapidly affecting the coastal vegetation in Micronesia. Thus, it is imperative to understand the cultural and ecological aspects of these plants. It is important not only for the Palauans, but also for the global scientific community to understand the effects of climate change at a human level. Our work will highlight issues concerning the vulnerability of these ecosystems, and how people value them.





Click here to View All Photo Collection. Omesurech Photos, Omengat Photos, Ngasech Photos






Notes: How to cite: Thomas, M.B. and M. Fadiman, A.H. Kitalong, and O. Morei. 2015. Palauan First-Birth (Ngasech and Omengat) Ceremonies plant checklist. Consortium of Pacific Herbarium, J.F. Rock Herbarium, Univeristy of Hawaii at Manoa. [access date month, year]

Common Names
Common Names
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Notes & Vouchers
Taxon Authors
Show Taxa Alphabetically
Families: 60
Genera: 60
Species: 62 (species rank)
Total Taxa: 62 (including subsp. and var.)
indigenous, tree, Uses: Medicine (beverage), Food (beverage); Ann Kitalong AK09170601 [BNM]
introduced, herbaceous, Uses: Ornamental (decorative [landscape]); B. S. Blackburn 185 [BNM] , Demei O. Otobed P-10049 [BNM]
Areca catechu L. - English: betel palm; Palauan: buuch
indigenous, tree, Uses: Ornamental (decorative [landscape])
Bambusa vulgaris Schrad. ex J.C. Wendl. - English: common bamboo; Palauan: bambuu
indigenous, herbaceous, Uses: Construction (framing, flooring); Agnes F. Rinehart LR 26610 [BNM] , Michael Balick 4578 [BNM]
Bruguiera sexangula (Lour.) Poir. - English: Oriental mangrove; Palauan: kodenges
indigenous, tree, Uses: Construction (flooring)
Buddleja globosa Hope - English: orange-ball-tree
introduced, shrub, Uses: Body Adornment (headdress)
Calotropis gigantea (L.) W.T.Aiton - English: giant milkweed; Hawaiian: pua kalaunu
introduced, shrub, Uses: Body Adornment
Cananga odorata (Lam.) Hook. f. & Thomson - English: ilang-ilang; Palauan: irang
indigenous, tree, Uses: Medicine; Wayne Law 345 [BNM]
Cassytha filiformis L. - English: devil's gut; Palauan: techellela chull
Casuarina equisetifolia L. - English: common ironwood; Palauan: ngas
indigenous, tree, Uses: Food Prepration (firewood)
indigenous, tree, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Citrus aurantiifolia (Christm.) Swingle - English: key lime; Palauan: malchianged
introduced, tree, Uses: Medicine (bath); Food (beverage)
Cocos nucifera L. - English: Coconut Palm; Hawaiian: niu; Palauan: lius
indigenous, tree, Uses: Medicine, Food, Food preparation, Body adornment
Codiaeum variegatum (L.) Rumph. ex A. Juss. - English: garden croton; Palauan: kesuk
introduced, shrub, Uses: Ornamental (decorative [landscape], ceremonial)
Colocasia esculenta (L.) Schott - Hawaiian: kalo; Palauan: kukau; unspecified: malanga; English: coco yam
indigenous, herbaceous, Uses: Food
Cordia sebestena L. - English: largeleaf geigertree; Palauan: kelau
tree, indigenous, Uses: Body Adornment
Cordyline fruticosa (L.) A.Chev. - English: good luck plant, ti plant; Hawaiian: kī; Palauan: sis
indigenous, shrub-tree, Uses: Body Adornment (skirt)
Crateva religiosa G. Forst. - English: sacred garlic pear; Palauan: chedebsungel
indigenous, shrub, Uses: Medicine, Food
Curcuma longa L. - Hawaiian: `Ōlena; Palauan: kesol
Introduced, herb, cultivated, medicinal, adornment
Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf - English: lemon grass; Palauan: keskus
introduced, cultivated, herb, medicinal
indigenous, shrub, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Derris trifoliata Lour. - English: threeleaf derris; kemokem: Palauan
vine, indigenous, Uses: Medicine (bath), Construction
indigenous, herbaceous, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Dianthus caryophyllus L. - English: carnation
indigenous, herbaceous, Uses: Body Adornment (headdress)
Dicranopteris linearis (Burm. f.) Underw. - English: uluhe, Old World forkedfern; Palauan: itouch
indigenous, fern, Uses: Ornamental (decorative [landscape])
Digitaria violascens Link - English: violet crabgrass; Palauan: sau
indigenous, grass
Eugenia reinwardtiana (Blume) DC. - English: mountain stopper; Palauan: kesiil
indigenous, shrub-tree, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Eurya japonica Thunb. - Palauan: cheskiik
indigenous, shrub, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Gmelina palawensis H.J. Lam - Palauan: blacheos
indigenous, tree, Uses: Construction (posts, flooring, walls)
Gypsophila paniculata L. - English: bachelor's button, baby's breath
indigenous, herbaceous, Uses: Body Adornment (headdress)
indigenous, shrub, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Hibiscus rosa-sinensis L. - English: Chinese hibiscus; Palauan: bussonge
indigenous, shrub, Uses: Ornamental (decorative [landscape])
Hibiscus tiliaceus L. - English: mahoe; Hawaiian: hau; Palauan: chermall
indigenous, tree, Uses: Body Adornment
Ixora casei Hance - Palauan: kerdeu
indigenous, shrub, Uses: Body Adornment
Ixora coccinea L. - English: scarlet jungleflame; Palauan: kerdeurangebard
indigenous, shrub, Uses: Body Adornment (headdress)
Limnophila aromatica (Lam.) Merr. - English: limnophila; Palauan: iaml
indigenous, herbaceous, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Lophopyxis maingayi Hook. f. - Palauan: iuetekill
indigenous, liana, Uses: Medicine (beverage), Food (beverage)
Lumnitzera littorea Voigt - Palauan: mekekad
indigenous, tree, Uses: Construction (posts)
Lycopodiella cernua (L.) Pic.Serm. - English: staghorn clubmoss; Palauan: olochouila beab
indigenous, clubmoss, Uses: Ornamental (decorative [landscape])
indigenous, tree, Uses: Food Prepration (firewood)
indigenous, shrub, Uses: Medicine (bath)
indigenous, tree, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Microsorum scolopendria (Burm. f.) Copel. - English: monarch fern; Palauan: chebechab
indigenous, fern, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Millettia pinnata (L.) Panigrahi - English: Indian beech, ponga, pongame oil tree; Palauan: kisaks
indigenous, tree, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Mussaenda philippica A. Rich. - Palauan: cherecheroi
introduced, herbaceous
indigenous, herbaceous, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Pandanus tectorius Parkinson ex Z - English: screw pine; Hawaiian: hala; Palauan: ongor
indigenous, shrub-tree, Uses: Body Adornment (waistbelt)
Phalaeria nisidai Kaneh. - Palauan: ongael
indigenous, tree, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Phyllanthus palauensis Hosok. - Palauan: dudurs, udoud
indigenous, shrub, Uses: Medicine (bath)
Piper betle L. - English: betel pepper; Palauan: kebui
indigenous, vine, Uses: Ceremonial
indigenous, tree, Uses: Medicine (bath), Food Preparation
Plumeria rubra L. - English: frangipani, plumeria; Palauan: chelilairangebard
indigenous, tree, Uses: Body Adornment
introduced, Uses: Body Adornment
Rhizophora mucronata Lam. - English: red mangrove; Palauan: tebechel
indigenous, tree, Uses: Construction (posts)
Sansevieria trifasciata Prain - English: viper's bowstring hemp
indigenous, herbaceous, Uses: Ornamental (decorative [landscape])
Scaevola taccada (Gaertn.) Roxb. - English: beach naupaka; Hawaiian: naupaka kahakai
indigenous, shrub-tree
endemic, tree, Uses: Construction (flooringsts)
indigenous, tree, Uses: Construction (beams and posts)
indigenous, herbaceous, Uses: Body Adornment (headdress), Ornamental [decorative (landscape)]
Syzygium samarangense (Blume) Merr. & L.M. Perry - Palauan: rebotel; English: eugenia
indigenous, tree, Uses: Medicine (bath, ceremonial)
Vitex negundo L. - English: negundo chastetree

Development of the Consortium of Pacific Herbaria and several of the specimen databases have been supported by National Science Foundation Grants (BRC 1057303, ADBC 1304924 and ADBC1115116). Data Usage Policy. Copyright © 2015 University of Hawai‘i.

How to Cite: M.B. Thomas, J.F. Rock Herbarium, University of Hawaii at Manoa. 2015. Consortium of Pacific Herbaria Database (CPH). Available from: (date accessed)

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