Ina Vandebroek

Matthew Calbraith Perry Associate Curator of Economic Botany and Caribbean Program Director, Institute of Economic Botany

Ph.D., Ghent University


Floristics and ethnobotany of useful plants and community health in the Caribbean and New York City


Ethnobotany, Caribbean Floristics, Cultural Heritage, Migrant Studies, Conservation Biology

Research locations

Jamaica, Dominican Republic, New York City


Dr. Ina Vandebroek’s research is at the intersection of floristics, ethnobotany, community health, and conservation. She has twenty years of experience in research and international cooperation projects in Bolivia, the Caribbean and New York City. Currently she conducts fieldwork in Jamaica, in partnership with local community members and academic colleagues at The University of the West Indies, Mona. Ina studies plant diversity and the dynamics of traditional plant knowledge and use for primary healthcare, food security, and other subsistence needs by local communities in remote rural areas, as well as by Caribbean immigrants in New York City. She is also re-assessing the conservation status of an endemic wild spice tree in Jamaica that is restricted to the John Crow Mountains. Ina’s research shows that, even in times of general loss of biological and cultural diversity worldwide, the use of wild and semi-domesticated plants remains popular in many communities today and forms an integral part of their biocultural heritage. Her work with Caribbean and Latino immigrants in New York City has important implications for healthcare delivery to underserved communities. Ina uses the results of her research to develop training activities with healthcare providers in New York City, to help establish a better dialogue and trusted relationship between providers and their Caribbean and Latino patients, and promote culturally sensitive healthcare for all. Ina is fluent in Dutch, English, Spanish, and speaks Jamaican Patois.

Selected Publications

Vandebroek I, Picking D, Tretina J, West J, Grizzle M, Sweil D, Green U, Lindsay D (2021) Root tonics and resilience: Building strength, health, and heritage in Jamaica. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems 5: 640171. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2021.640171.

Pieroni A, Vandebroek I, Prakofjewa J, Bussmann RW, Paniagua-Zambrana NY, Maroyi A, Torri L, Zocchi DM, Dam ATK, Khan SM, Ahmad H, Yeşil Y, Huish R, Pardo-de-Santayana, M, Mocan A, Hu X, Boscolo O, Sõukand R (2020) Taming the pandemic? The importance of homemade plant-based foods and beverages as community responses to COVID-19. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 16: 75.

Vandebroek I, Pieroni A, Stepp JR, Hanazaki N, Ladio A, Alves RRN, Picking D, Delgoda R, Maroyi A, van Andel T, Quave CL, Paniagua-Zambrana NY, Bussmann RW, Odonne G, Abbasi AM, Albuquerque UP, Baker J, Kutz S, Timsina S, Shigeta M, Ribeiro Oliveira TP, Hurrell JA, Arenas PM, Puentes JP, Hugé J, Yeşil Y, Jean Pierre L, Olango TM, Dahdouh-Guebas F (2020) Reshaping the future of ethnobiology research after the Covid-19 pandemic. Nature Plants 22 June 2020:

Vandebroek, Ina & Robert Voeks (2019) The gradual loss of African indigenous vegetables in tropical America: A review. Economic Botany (Published online 3 April 2019,

Picking, David, Rupika Delgoda & Ina Vandebroek (2019) Traditional knowledge systems and the role of traditional medicine in Jamaica. CAB Reviews 14 (045): 1-13.

Vandebroek, Ina, David Picking, Stacey Aiken, Patrick Albert Lewis, Andreas Oberli, Sylvia Mitchell & Brian Boom (2018) A review of coralilla (Antigonon leptopus): An invasive and popular urban bush medicine in Jamaica. Economic Botany 72: 229-245.

Ceuterick, Melissa & Ina Vandebroek (2017) Identity in a medicine cabinet: Discursive positions of Andean migrants towards their use of herbal remedies in the United Kingdom. Social Science & Medicine 177: 43-51. View PDF

Sander, Logan & Ina Vandebroek (2016) Small-scale farmers as stewards of useful plant diversity: A case study in Portland parish, Jamaica. Economic Botany 70: 303-319. View PDF

Vandebroek, Ina & David Picking (2016) Popular medicinal plants in Portland and Kingston, Jamaica. Kingston: Pear Tree Press, 191 pp.

Vandebroek, Ina (2016) Ethical aspects of working with local communities and their biological resources. In: Pharmacognosy: Fundamentals, Applications and Strategy (Eds. S. Badal and R. Delgoda). London, UK: Academic Press, Elsevier, pp. 645-651.

Vandebroek, Ina (2016) Cultural comparisons in ethnobiological research. In: Introduction to Ethnobiology (Eds. U.P. Albuquerque and R.R. Nóbrega Alves). Switzerland: Springer International Publishing, pp. 265-271. View PDF

Vandebroek, Ina & Dan Moerman (2015) The anthropology of ethnopharmacology. In: Ethnopharmacology (Eds. M. heinrich and A.K. Jaeger). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley-Blackwell., pp. 17-28. View PDF

Van Andel, Tinde, Hugo J. de Boer, Joanne Barnes & Ina Vandebroek (2014). Medicinal plants used for menstrual disorders in Latin America, the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, South and Southeast Asia and their uterine properties: A review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 155: 992-1000. View PDF

Vandebroek, Ina & Michael J. Balick (2014) Lime for Chest Congestion, Bitter Orange for Diabetes: Foods as Medicines in the Dominican Community in New York City. Economic Botany 68: 177-189. View PDF

Hanazaki, Natalia, Dannieli Firme Herbst, Mel Simionato Marques & Ina Vandebroek (2013) Evidence of the shifting baseline syndrome in ethnobotanical research. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 9: 75. view PDF

Vandebroek, Ina (2013) Intercultural health and ethnobotany: How to improve healthcare for underserved and minority communities? Journal of Ethnopharmacology 148: 746-754. View PDF

Van Andel, Tinde, Sylvia Mitchell, Gabriele Volpato, Ina Vandebroek, Jorik Swier, Sofie Ruysschaert, Carlos Ariel Rentería Jiménez & Niels Raas (2012). In search of the perfect aphrodisiac: Parallel use of bitter tonics in West Africa and the Caribbean. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 143: 840-850. View PDF

Henderson, Flor, Ina Vandebroek, Michael J. Balick & Edward J. Kennelly (2012) Ethnobotanical research skills for students of underrepresented minorities in STEM disciplines. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 10: 389-402.

Vandebroek, Ina & Michael J. Balick (2012) Globalization and loss of plant knowledge: Challenging the paradigm. PloS ONE 7: 5,

Thomas, Evert, David Douterlungne, Ina Vandebroek, Frieke Heens, Paul Goetghebeur & Patrick Van Damme (2011) Human impact on wild firewood species in the rural Andes community of Apillapampa, Bolivia. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment 178: 333–347.

Vandebroek, Ina (2010) The dual intracultural and intercultural relationship between medicinal plant knowledge and consensus. Economic Botany 64: 303-317.

Vandebroek, Ina, Michael J. Balick, Andreana Ososki, Fredi Kronenberg, Jolene Yukes, Christine Wade, Francisco Jiménez, Brígido Peguero & Daisy Castillo (2010) The importance of botellas and other plant mixtures in Dominican traditional medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 128: 20-41.

Keller, Amy, Ina Vandebroek, Youping Liu, Michael J. Balick, Fredi Kronenberg, Edward J. Kennelly & Anne-Marie B. Brillantes (2009). Costus spicatus tea failed to improve diabetic progression in C57BLKS/J db/db mice, a model of type 2 diabetes mellitus. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 121: 248-254. Available at

Thomas, Evert, Ina Vandebroek & Patrick Van Damme (2009) Valuation of forests and plant species in Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro-Sécure, Bolivia. Economic Botany 63: 229-241.

Thomas, Evert, Ina Vandebroek, Patrick Van Damme, Lucio Semo & Zacaria Noza (2009) Susto etiology and treatment according to Bolivian Trinitario people: a “masters of the animal species” phenomenon. Medical Anthropology Quarterly 23: 298-319.

Thomas, Evert, Ina Vandebroek, Patrick Van Damme, Paul Goetghebeur, David Douterlungne, Sabino Sanca & Susana Arrazola (2009) The relation between accessibility, diversity and indigenous valuation of vegetation in the Bolivian Andes. Journal of Arid Environments 73: 854-861.

Vandebroek, Ina, Evert Thomas, Sabino Sanca, Patrick Van Damme, Luc Van Puyvelde & Norbert De Kimpe (2008) Comparison of health conditions treated with traditional and biomedical healthcare in a Quechua community in rural Bolivia. Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 4:1. Available at

Ceuterick, Melissa, Ina Vandebroek, Bren Torry & Andrea Pieroni (2008) Cross-cultural adaptation in urban ethnobotany: The Colombian folk pharmacopoeia in London. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 120: 342-359. Available at,%202008.pdf

Thomas, Evert, Ina Vandebroek, Patrick Van Damme, Paul Goetghebeur, Sabino Sanca & Susana Arrazola (2008) The Relationship between Plant Use and Plant Diversity in the Bolivian Andes, with Special Reference to Medicinal Plant Use. Human Ecology 36: 861- 861-879

Thomas, Evert, Ina Vandebroek & Patrick Van Damme (2007). What works in the field? A comparison of different interviewing methods in ethnobotany with special reference to the use of photographs. Economic Botany 61: 376-384.

Pieroni, Andrea & Ina Vandebroek (2007) Traveling Cultures and Plants. The Ethnobiology and Ethnopharmacy of Migrations. Volume 7. Studies in Environmental Anthropology and Ethnobiology. Oxford, UK: Berghahn Books.

Delanoy, Marleen, Xavier Scheldeman, Ina Vandebroek, Patrick Van Damme & Stephan Beck (2007) Small-scale Cultivation of Passiflora edulis f. flavicarpa and Passiflora ligularis in the Yungas of La Paz, Bolivia. Belgian Journal of Botany 140: 150-160.

Thomas, Evert & Ina Vandebroek (2006) Guia de plantas medicinales de los Yurakares y Trinitarios del Territorio Indigena Parque Nacional Isiboro-Secure, Bolivia [Guide to the medicinal plants of the Yurakares and Trinitarios from the Indigenous Territory and National Park Isiboro-Secure, Bolivia]. Imprenta Sirena, Santa Cruz, Bolivia, 522 pp., ISBN 978-90-5989-139-5 [in Spanish]

Vandebroek, Ina & Sabino Sanca (2006) Food medicines in the Bolivian Andes (Apillapampa, Cochabamba Department). In: Eating and Healing: Traditional food as medicine (Eds. Pieroni, A., and Price, L.). Binghamton, New York: The Haworth Press

Pieroni, Andrea, Lisa Leimar Price & Ina Vandebroek (2005) Welcome to the Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine (Editorial). Journal of Ethnobiology and Ethnomedicine 1:1 Available at

Vandebroek, Ina, Patrick Van Damme, Luc Van Puyvelde, Susana Arrazola & Norbert De Kimpe (2004) A comparison of traditional healers’ medicinal plant knowledge in the Bolivian Andes and Amazon. Social Science & Medicine 59: 837-849 View PDF

Vandebroek, Ina, Jan-Bart Calewaert, Stijn De Jonckheere, Sabino Sanca, Lucio Semo, Patrick Van Damme, Luc Van Puyvelde & Norbert De Kimpe (2004) Use of medicinal plants and pharmaceuticals by indigenous communities in the Bolivian Andes and Amazon. Bulletin of the World Health Organization 82: 243-250.

Vandebroek, Ina, Evert Thomas & Ametrac (2003) Las plantas medicinales para la atencion primaria de la salud. El conocimiento de ocho medicos tradicionales de Apillapampa, Bolivia [Medicinal plants for primary healthcare. The knowledge of eight traditional healers from Apillapampa, Bolivia]. Industrias Graficas Serrano, Cochabamba, Bolivia, 317 pp., ISBN 90-5989-009-4 [in Spanish]

De Cupere, Françoise, Ina Vandebroek, Mayra Puentes, Sinesio Torres & Patrick Van Damme (2001) Evaluation of vegetal extracts as biological herbi- and pesticides for their use in Cuban agriculture. Mededelingen / Universiteit Gent, Faculteit Landbouwkundige en Toegepaste Biologische Wetenschappen (Currently Communications in Agricultural and Applied Biological Sciences) 66/2a: 455 – 462.