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Chlorogalum pomeridianum – Soap Plant, Amole

Chlorogalum pomeridianum flowers

Chlorogalum pomeridianum flower stalk

Also Called

Soap plant or Amole

Family

This plant is part of the Hyacinth or Hyacinthaceae family.

Distribution and Habitat

All zones except the high mountains and deserts. Dry and open slopes up to about 5000 feet. From Oregon to San Diego.

Description of Plant

This plant grows from a bulb and has long leaves which are strap-like, looking like a wide grass. In late spring and summer the flower stalks range from four to eight feet tall and can form small colonies of plants. The flowers are one inch wide, scattered along the stalk and evening blooming. The flowered open over a period of several weeks and each lasts for a single week.

Description of Plant Uses

The Native Americans used this plant for many different uses including for fiber, soap, adhesive, food and to stupefy fish.

The bulb is stripped of its outer fibrous layer and then crushed to make a soap. The soap was used to create a lather to clean clothes as wells as hands. It was also considered to be an excellent shampoo.

Chlorogalum pomeridianum leaves

Chlorogalum pomeridianum leaves

If slow roasted in a pit oven this bulb could also be used as a food source. Usually the bulbs would be placed in a pit oven at night and they would be ready for use in the morning. This slow cooking method made the bulb lose its soapy properties. The left over fibers were used as brushes, usually to brush the fine flower made from various nuts and seeds such as acorns out of baskets.

Young leaves were often harvested and cooked in a pit oven. This slow roasting process made these leaves sweet and therefore very delicious. The young leaves were also often eaten raw while the older, larger leaves were used to wrap breads before placed in ovens.

When cooked the bulb produces a thick substance. This was commonly used as a type of glue to attach feathers to arrows. Juice from the leaves were used as a type of tattoo ink, producing a green color.

One of the most interesting uses for this plant was its use as a fish poison, which is now illegal in California. Large numbers of fish were caught by damming streams and then by throwing in the crushed bulbs. This would stupefy the fish which would then float to the surface and could easily be picked out by hand. This process would stupefy fish and eels but not frogs. The poison also did not affect the fish as a food source.

Ornamental Value in the Landscape

This plant can be used for its ornamental value in the landscape. It is easy to cultivate and may multiply into a small colony in the garden. Plant it amount shrubs or at the edge of an oak canopy. It prefers sun to partial shade and is drought tolerant. It is adaptable to many different soil types.

Ethnobotany / Medicinal Uses

The soap plant, Chlorogalum pomeridianum, was also used medicinally. It was commonly used as a poultice for sores and rheumatism.


Rumex species – Sheep Sorrel, Canaigre, Curly Dock

Also Called

The three species discussed here; Rumex hymenosepalus, Rumex acetosella and Rumux crispus, can also be known as wild rhubarb, Sheep Sorrel, Sour cane, Tanner’s dock, Sour dock, Pie dock, Curly leaf, Dock, and Yellow Dock.

Yet another species, Rumex angiocarpus, also can be known as Sheep Sorrel.

Family

Rumex crispus illustration, an American Native Plant

Polygonaceae.

Mountain Sorrel, Oxyria digyna, is also in this family.

Distribution and Habitat

Curly dock, R. crispus, was imported from Europe. The species, Rumex hymenosepalus, is a native plant to California and was used extensively by the Native Americans. R. hymenosepalus can be found from Wyoming, Utah, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California. It is found in sandy stream beds and in fields below 6,000 feet elevation.

The species, R. crispus, can be found along streams and other wet areas below 8,000 feet.

Rumex acetosella is a common California edible weed which occurs in damp places throughout the state.

Description of Plant

With R. hymenosepalus, this plant has long, green leaves which appear around February. It has very short stems which has a reddish hue. Flowers and seeds appear on the central stalk which turns a rusty red in the fall.

The species R. crispus has long, narrow green leaves on a short stem which come out in clusters from the base of the plant. The leaves has ruffled edges. Flowers are greenish and turn a rusty color as they go to seed.

These two plants look very similar other than the difference in the curly leaves and the root.

Rumex acetosella is a perennial herb with lanceolate leaves with the lower leaves showing more of an arrowhead shape and with petioles longer than the blades themselves. Flowers are yellowish and turn more red with age. Flowers are produced from March through August. Fruit is small and triangular. Fruit looks much like the other members of the Rumex genus, see illustration of R. crispus for an example.

Description of Plant Uses

Rumex hymenosepalus

Rumex hymenosepalus, introduced from Europe

All sour docks are highly esteemed by many cultures around the world. They are commonly added to foods such as breaks, salads and soups.

These plants are closely related to rhubarb and are used in many of the same ways except that R. hymenosepalus needs to be cooked in water to remove the bitten tannins found in the leaves. The other species of Rumex do not have as high of concentrations of tannin.

These plants are used in omelets in countries such as India and Native Americans, such as the Miwoks of California, mashed the leaves and added as little as water and salt before eating them.

This was also commonly used as a drink plant made by simmering the leaves in water for about 20 minutes. When cooked the leaves taste similar to spinach with a tartness of lemon.

This plant is also an important and common item in the diet of many animals such as the mule deer as well as many birds.

The high amounts of tannin found in the roots allow this plant to be used to tan hides and leathers.

Ornamental Value in the Landscape

This plant, as being commonly viewed as a weed, has no ornamental use in the landscape and is unobtainable in the nursery trade.

Common Misidentification / Poisonous Lookalikes

There are no known poisonous lookalikes.

Ethnobotany / Medicinal Uses

Rumex acetosella

Rumex acetosella

The Hopi Indians used the roots in a tea to treat colds.

The Navajo used the powdered root as a treatment for sore throats and it was also gargled to help with sore gums.

Skin sores and swellings were also treated by a external tea made from the root.

R. crispus was used by the Pima’s to color the edges of blanket with a mustard colored dye which is produced when the plant is boiled. A mixture of salt and leaves was made into a poultice and bound to the forehead to cure headaches.

R. hymenosepalus was used to make a brown dye for wool.

Active Compounds

The roots contain anywhere from 25% to 35% tannin which has been exported from the Americas to Europe since the 1880’s. This also contributes to one common name given, Sour Cane. This tannin can be used to tan hides and treat leather.

Nutritional Value

Dock is a a good source of Thiamin, Niacin, Folate and Calcium, and a very good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Copper and Manganese.

Read More: http://nutritiondata.self.com/facts/vegetables-and-vegetable-products/2734/2


Pinus edulis – Pinyon Pine

Pinus monophylla

Pinus monophylla

Also Called

Nut Pine and Pignolia.

Other varieties include Pinus monophylla, P. cembroides, P. edulis and P. quadrifolia. P. edulis is listed as a rare and endangered plant by the California Native Plant Society.

Family

Pinaceae

Distribution and Habitat

Pinyon pine is found between 4,000 and 7,500 feet elevation in dry, rockly places. They are found in Pinyon-Juniper woodland and are also located on the base of the Sierra. Some species are known to border deserts.

Description of Plant

Pinyon Pines have short trunks and conic crowns. Their bark is a grayish brown. They are usually smaller than other pines and normally reach from 5-15 meters tall.

Description of Plant Use

In Native American lore this plant is said to be the oldest food source of the people.

The nuts are picked in fall and early winter. Many tribes took long journeys to collect pine nuts and would gather the green cones with long poles, knocking them off of the trees. They would then be piled into large mounds and set on fire to remove the pitch. The seeds would then be easily removed.

The nuts were often put into baskets with hot coals and shaken to roast them, which aided in their preservation. It was said that the basket never burned but that the nuts would come out well roasted.

Seeds were sometimes gathered by raiding nests of pack rats, where they were stored in large quantities.

Pinus edulis

Pinus edulis

The nuts were consumed raw, roasted and in atole (a type of gruel).

The seeds have a high nutritional value with a high amount of protein and fat. They have more than 3,000 calories per pound.

Some native tribes did not allow pregnant women to eat pine nuts because it was believed that it would make the baby too fat and therefore hard to deliver.

Pitch from the Pinyon Pine was used to waterproof water baskets as well as to repair broken pots. Pitch was also chewed as gum.

The inner bark of the Pinyon Pine was used as an emergency food by many tribes.

Medicinal Uses

The pitch was used to treat sore throat, burns, sores as well as for a glue.

Opuntia basilaris (O. littoralis) – Prickly Pear

Pink flowers of Opuntia basilaris.

Pink flowers of Opuntia basilaris.

Also Called:

Beavertail cactus, Tuna, Kwukwu, Indian Fig

Varieties include O. occidentalis, O. ficus-indica, O. megacantha and O. littoralis. O. basilaris is historically cited for being the most common variety used by the natives though other reports include O. littoralis as being mainly used by the Chumash natives of the Santa Barbara area[1].

Family:

Cactaceae

Distribution and Habitat:

Common in the Mojave and Colorado deserts and is located below 6,000 ft. elevation. Various varieties of Opuntia can be located in valley grassland, chaparral, coastal sage, juniper pinyon pine woodlands and in urban areas where overgrazing and disturbed soils have left little support for other less hardy plants. Opuntia can grow in both very wet and dry areas.

This plant can also be found in areas where native tribes once lived as it was a food crop. It may have also been planted as a defensive measure to protect the tribe.

Varieties are found in California, Utah, Arizona, Nevada and Mexico. Other varieties have been introduced worldwide and are commonly seen in the Mediterranean.

O. basilaris var. treleasei (Bakersfield cactus) is considered an endangered species[2].

The red fruits of Opuntia littoralis.

The red fruits of Opuntia littoralis.

Description of Plant

This cactus is found throughout the west (see above). It can be identified by its flat and fleshy pads which grow in clumps. Large flowers, which are also fleshy, appear in the spring and are followed by red fruits.

Smaller varieties (such as O. basilaris) grow in clumps of three to four feet in diameter and about two feet tall. Other larger varieties (such as O. littoralis) can grow up to 25 ft. in diameter and up to 8 feet tall.

O. basilaris has few spines but many bristles. The bristles can penetrate the skin even through they are very small. This plant has dark pink flowers which are about 4 inches wide and have magenta filaments.

O. littoralis grows in flat eliptical segments and has many spines. Spines can reach one and a half inches long. Flowers are up to four inches wide and can be either yellow or red. Fruit can be red or purple and resembles the taste of guava.

Flowers can range from pink to yellow and fruits can be green, purple, tan and red.

Description of Plant Uses

Perhaps all varieties of Opuntia were used as a food source by the Native Americans.

The fruit was sometimes crushed and made into a drink which was boiled allowed to ferment and was consumed as an alcoholic beverage.

The young fruits (which were still green) were usually picked in the early morning when still covered in dew and then rubbed in the sand to remove its tiny spines. These were then boiled or baked to the consistency of applesauce.

Ripe fruits were gathered, dried and stored for future use.

Make sure to remove bristles and spines before eating. Pads should be boiled and fried before eating.

Many sources state that Prickly Pear fruit should be consumed in moderation.[3] This is due to what the Pima Indians believed to be poison in the purple fruit which affected a person who consumed to much of it.

If consumed in moderation (not eaten as a primary food source) the Prickly Pear fruit (known as Tuna) can actually be a healthy supplement to a diet due to high amounts of calcium[3].

The pulp of its pads (known as nopales) contain glucose, fructose, some vitamin C, 5% protein, some starch, pectin and other constituents[1].

During drought this plant was fed to cattle after singing off its thorns. Cattle also seemed to like the Prickly Pear’s fruit.

Plant Legends and Myths

An old Navajo legend states that a single piece of a persons hair must be pulled out and given to the cactus to prevent its heart from twisting. [3] Another story tells of a group of Aztecs in 1325 were being pursued by hostile people. They came upon a eagle strangling a snake on top of a prickly pear. This was taken as a sign of good fortune and they settled down in the spot of present day Mexico City and the symbol is now on the state flag and the coat of arms of the Republic.[4]

Medicinal Uses

The following is a list of medicinal uses of Prickly Pear which the natives used the plant. This information is for research only and should not be taken at home. Please see your health care provider before concidering using the Prickly Pear as a alternative remedy.

  • Wounds: The natives used the soaked pads of the Prickly Pear with which they bound their wounds.
  • Lactation: The pads were heated and placed on the breasts of new mothers to encourage the flow of milk.
  • Mumps: Roasted split pads were placed around the neck and chin to reduce the swelling caused by mumps.
  • Rheumatism: In Baja California the heated pads were used to aid in the swelling caused by rheumatism.
  • Mortar/Adhesives: The sap from the pads of Opuntia was used to make an adhesive that was also used for mortar.
  • Burns:

Active Compounds [1]

Opuntia’s contain beta-sitosterol which is an anti-inflammatory agent. Extracts of this plant have shown to promote healing and also to be analgesic. As a food source the pads have shown to decrease and help control glucose levels and cholesterol. Extracts have also shown to have some antiviral activity.

Additional Resources

[1]Healing with Medicinal Plants of The West
[2]http://www.plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=OPBA2
[3]American Indian Food and Lore
[4]Edible and Useful Plants of California

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opuntia_basilaris

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prickly_pear

Taraxacum officinale – Dandelion

Dandelion Parts. Image released by GNU Public Documentation License.

Dandelion Parts. Image released by GNU Public Documentation License.

Habitat and Description

Flowers are bright yellow and borne on single hollow stems. This plant is originally from Europe but is widespread through the west in lawns and roadsides.

Description of Plant Uses

The dandelion is a common “weed” that was used thoroughly by Native Americans for both food and medicine. The scientific name “officinale” translates to official remedy because of its medicinal purposes.

The young leaves of the dandelion are both delicious and nutritious because of their high vitamin content. During the Great Depression people were commonly seen on the roadside picking dandelions for the days meal.

All parts of the dandelion (the roots, leaves, crown, and blossoms) were eaten both cooked and raw.

Leaves should be picked when they are very young. When the plant has flowered the leaves become bitter.

When young the leaves make a great addition to salads. When older they should be boiled or steamed. To season add salt, butter or vinegar.

Dandelion Flower. Image released under the GNU Public Release License.

Dandelion Flower. Image released under the GNU Public Release License.

Dandelions were also used to make wine.

Dandelions were also used to make a yellow dye.

Medicinal Uses of Dandelions

  • Fractures: Fractures were treated with ground leaves and water which was applied as a paste. Whole leaves were then bound to the afflicted area.
  • Bruising: The leaves were ground and mixed with dough and applied to bad bruising.
  • Heart Trouble: A tonic made from the blossoms of Dandelions was boiled down until the water turned a strong yellow for heart trouble. A glass of this tonic was consumed before breakfast every morning for one month.
  • Laxative: The green root was considered a laxative.

Prosopis glandulosa Torreyana (Formerly P. juliflora) – Mesquite

  • Mesquite (Prosopis glandulosa Torreyana, Formerly P. juliflora)
  • Also Called: Honey mesquite, Pechit
Mesquite flowers. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Mesquite flowers. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Distribution and Habitat

Mesquite can be commonly found in washes and other low ground before 3,000 ft. altitude. This plant can be found from as far as Texas to the lower parts of California, in the Mojave desert. This was an extremely important plant for desert dwelling native American tribes.

Description of Plant

Low tree or large shrub with several trunks and can grow up to 25 feet high. Mesquite has deciduous compound leaves which are bright green. Has 7-17 pairs of leaflets ranging from 1.5-2.3 centimeters long. Mesquite has small greenish-yellow flowers which are long in slender, cylindric spikes. Yellow pods appear which are flat and can occur as one to several pods in clusters. Fruit is in pods and are long and constricted between the seeds. When ripe the beans are brittle and straw colored. Some varieties can have ripe pods with random red streaks.

Mesquite blooms April through June. Pods ripe in fall.

A foraging ground squirrel eating ripe fallen Mesquite pods. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

A foraging ground squirrel eating ripe fallen Mesquite pods. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Description of Plant Uses

A similar species, P. Pubescens, was used in a similar way to P. glandulosa. P. Pubescens is also known as Screw Bean or Tornillo because of its pods which coil many times in a spring like fashion.

Mesquite was considered one of the most important food sources to desert dwelling tribes. Mesquite beans were eaten raw and were also ground (sometimes even with the whole pod) into a flour which was made into atole (a type of hot meal resembling gruel) and bread. Mesquite has a pleasant sour-like taste. Grass seeds, animal fat, berries and dried greens could be added to mesquite flour to add variety to the meal. The sap from Mesquite was also eaten raw.

One tribe is said to have ground Mesquite pods in the hollows in the earth where they would mix the meal with soil. This was said to improve the taste and sweeten its flavor. The process of adding water to Mesquite flour and allowing it to sit and dry slightly fermented the patty or biscuit which was made. This was also known to slightly improve the flavor.

Velvet Mesquite Tree. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Velvet Mesquite Tree. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

This meal sustained many tribes through the winter months when other food sources were scarce. Some tribes even had names for each stage of the mesquites grown, describing it from tiny pod to the fully ripe bean when it had fallen onto the ground.

Women of Native American tribes spent a good part of the day grinding mesquite beans into meal. They would pick the ripe beans off of the trees until the mesquite was completely bare.

To store the beans they were put on the roof of dwellings to dry. If beans were not considered good enough to be stored they would be ground into meal. Small amounts of water were added to meal which were formed into cakes and dried for storage. These dry cakes were especially important on wet days when it was too damp to grind mesquite seeds.

Slices of cakes were fried, used to thicken stews or eaten raw. The ground flower was used to make everything from bread to beverages.

The flowers of mesquite produce a sweet tasting nectar which can be sucked out. Flowers were also roasted and can be eaten whole.

A pulp surrounds the seeds inside of the mature pods of mesquite. This can be eaten raw and actually contains up to 30% sugar.

A beverage can also be made by boiling the mature pods and then straining out the residue.

An alcoholic drink was made with mesquite. A combination of mesquite flower and water would be fermented which would make a slightly fizzy alcoholic beverage.

Ripe pods of the Mesquite. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Ripe pods of the Mesquite. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

The Pima Indians used the black gum of the mesquite as a hair dye by boiling it down in water and applying it with a rag. They would then cover the hair in a layer of mud and allow it to sit overnight. It would be washed out the following morning.

The thorns of Mesquite were used with ink to puncture the skin for tattoos. The charcoal from Mesquite was also used in tattoos and gave a blue color.

A resin from the sap was also used as an adhesive. With additional water added to the resin it could be used as paint.

The wood of the Mesquite was often used to make mortars, bows, arrows and even digging sticks.

Fiber from the roots was used to make baskets and was even used to a small extent for clothing. The wood of Mesquite was also used to build homes and furniture. It was also known to be the best wood for cooking fires. Digging sticks were also made out of the wood, about four feet long and two inches in diameter, to dig for roots.

A Mesquite fire was also used to bake pottery.

Unripe pods of Mesquite. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Unripe pods of Mesquite. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Medicinal Uses

  • Open Wounds: The black gum of the mesquite tree was boiled down to make a cure for a variety of ailments. It was used as an eyewash for sore eyes, open wounds, chapped skin or lips, sunburn and even venereal diseases.
  • Eyewash: See Open Wounds.
  • Chapped Lips/Skin: See Open Wounds.
  • Sunburn: See Open Wounds.
  • Lice: The boiled down sap was mixed with mud to make a solution used to remove head lice.
  • Severe Sunburn: A solution made from dried beans, boiled down, was used to aid in severe sunburns.
  • Venereal Diseases: The black gum of the mesquite was also used to cure “bad disease”.
  • Sore Throat: Mesquite sap was also gargled to sooth a sore throat.
  • Emetic: This was made by boiling the inner bark.
  • Cathartic: See Emetic.
  • Headache: A tea was made from the leaves of the mesquite to aid in headaches and stomach problems.
  • Stomach Trouble: See Headache.
  • Pink Eye: A tea was made from the leaves of the mesquite and then applied directly to the eyes.
  • Painful Gums: The tea made from the leaves was held in the mouth to numb painful gums.

Mesquite was considered by the natives as a cool plant and was not used to aid in high fevers.

Poisonous Look Alikes

Mesquite can look like Coralbean which has poisonous seeds.

Nutritional Value

Mesquite is high in protein, carbohydrates and calcium. Every four tablespoons of mesquite meal is the equivalent of seventy calories.

Yucca baccata (Y. schidigera) – Spanish Bayonet

Yucca schidigera in bloom. Image released under the GNU Public Documentation License.

Yucca schidigera in bloom. Image released under the GNU Public Documentation License.

There are two forms of Yucca that were used by the natives of California. These were Yucca Baccata and Yucca Schidigera, also known as Spanish Bayonet.

Description of Plant

Yucca is a shrublike plant with long slender leaves which end in sharp spikes. It has one long stem (sometimes a few) which is surrounded by its green or grayish leaves at the base. Flowers occur on the central stock. Flowers have three fleshy petals with three sepals. Clusters of flowers occur with red and purple pigment on the otherwise cream colored parts. Fruit is fleshy and slightly resembles a banana by its shape.

Distribution and Habitat:

Yucca occurs on dry slopes between 3,000 and 6,000 feet (sometimes lower). Its fruit is edible.

Description of Plant Uses:

Leaves were pounded in water to extract its valuable, tough fiber. Fiber from Yucca was used for cordage in ropes, nets, hats, shoes, mattresses and even paintbrushes. Baskets made from Yucca were used for cooking purposes because of its very tough fiber.

The fruit was eaten raw or roasted. The outer skin is bitter and was usually removed. The fruit was sometimes dried in the shape of cakes for future use.

Multiple plants of the Yucca baccata variety. Image released under the GNU Public Documentation License.

Multiple plants of the Yucca baccata variety. Image released under the GNU Public Documentation License.

Young flowers are also edible raw or cooked when the ovary (the heart of the flower) is removed.

Seeds were ground into flour.

The roots were used to make soap. They were cleaned and pounded into a fine powder into “amole” which was used to wash hair for wedding rituals and when naming newborn children. Other soaps could be made by just boiling the roots in water to make a wash.

Fruits appeared between May to September. Flower usually appear in the Spring.

Arctostaphylos varieties – Manzanita

Arctostaphylos glauca Manzanita berries

A variety of Manzanita, Arctostaphylos glauca. Image released under GNU Free Documentation License.

  • Name: Manzanita (Arctostaphylos pringlei, A. pungens, A. patula, A. uva-ursis, A. glauca, A. manzanita)
  • Also Called: Bearberry, Bigberry

Distribution and Habitat

Various species grow on dry slopes in Coastal Ranges and Chaparral and is usually found below 5,000 feet elevation in most of California. There are forty-three species of Manzanita throughout California and most of these were used as food sources by natives.

Description of Plant

Manzanita grows in dense thickets 2-4 meters high. It has greyish green leaves that are oval and 2-4.5 centimeters long. It is a large evergreen shrub with crooked branches and a beautiful smooth, mahogany colored bark. Its flowers are white (and sometimes pink) and are urn shaped and 8-9 millimeters long. Manzanita’s fruit is redish-brown when it is ripe.

Manzanita blooms December through March and its fruit appears in Spring.

A great example of the mahogany colored bark of the Arctostaphylos manzanita variety. Picture released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

A great example of the mahogany colored bark of the Arctostaphylos manzanita variety. Picture released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Description of Plant Uses

A. uva-ursis and possibly another variety of manzanita was smoked as the Indian tobacco known as kinnikinick.

Manzanita is Spanish for “Little Apple”. The name is very appropriate as the red berries look like miniature apples. The Spanish settlers were known to pick the fruit of the manzanita while still green and was used to make a soft drink and/or jelly.

The natives of California used this fruit in many ways. It was usually used when red and ripe and collected by beating the shrub to drop the berries into collecting baskets. They were eaten raw or cooked, crushed for beverages and made into jellies.

The pulp is dry and sweet when ripe and was reduced into a fine powder, separated from the seeds and skins, and mixed with water. This concoction would usually stand for a few hours and made into a favorite drink. Ground berries were also steeped in hot water, the flavor resembling that of cider.

The beautiful flowers of Arctostaphylos patula, a variety of Manzanita. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

The beautiful flowers of Arctostaphylos patula, a variety of Manzanita. Image released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Dry seeds were ground into a fine flour and was usually made into a mush. The flour was also sometimes shaped into thin cakes and were baked on top of hot ashes. It was also eaten dry as pinole.

The green fruit has a high acidity but was known as a thirst quencher.

The flowers were steeped for tea.

Berries were also collected in large quantities and dried to be used for winter.

Several of the Indian tribes would celebrate the ripening of the manzanita with a harvest feast and dancing.

The wood was also used by the Cahuilla Indians for utensils and pipes.

Sprouts of Manzanita are commonly seen in areas molested by fire.

Many animals eat the foliage and fruit of the Manzanita. Birds, bears, and other animals are known to eat the ripe berries. Goats and some other animals sometimes eat the plants foliage. It was used as an indicator of wild game including deer, coyotes and mountain sheep. Manzanita also provides shelter for birds and other small animals.

A close up of a berry of Arctostaphylos manzanita.

A close up of a berry of Arctostaphylos manzanita. Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.

Medicinal Uses of Manzanita

  • Poison Oak: Manzanita berries were made into a tea and applied as a lotion for relief from poison oak.
  • Dropsy, Bronchitis and Colds: A mixture of both the leaves and the berries was used for relief from dropsy, bronchitis and sever colds. Some sources say that this tonic is too strong to be taken internally.
  • Stomach Problems and Weight Loss: A tea was made from the leaves of the Manzanita for stomach relief. It was also used to reduce fat.
  • Rheumatism: A tea was made from the leaves of Manzanita for a bath to aid in Rheumatism.
  • Headache: Manzanita leaves were boiled down into a yellowish-brown extract which was used as a wash to stop certain types of headaches. A tea was also made for the same purpose.
  • Sores: The Concow Indians chewed the leaves of the manzanita and applied the thick pad produced as a poultice on sores.