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Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region (1933) by S. A. Barrett and E. W. Gifford


FUNGI

A specimen of only one fungus was obtained for identification, the Sierra puffball (Lycoperdon sculptum), called by the Central Miwok potokele and patapsi. This puffball was eaten cooked. Usually it was dried in the sun two or three days, pulverized in a mortar, stone-boiled, and eaten with acorn soup. The Yuki do not eat the edible Lycoperdon of their region.32

The other puffballs mentioned by informants were the awakayu (C), which is white inside, and the wunesati (C), which is yellow inside. They were eaten either raw or cooked.

A red-edged yellow tree fungus (elmayu, C), that grows shelf-like on the trunks of black oaks and water oaks, was eaten only after boiling, squeezing, and salting. If eaten raw it was poisonous and caused vomiting, but not death. A decoction of this fungus was drunk as a cathartic and a cure for rheumatism. The fungus was also used as a poultice. Presumably this fungus is of the genus Polyporus, which is highly esteemed by the Pomo. 33

The other fungi mentioned by informants were mushrooms, of which only one is poisonous:

White Mushroom. Helli (C). This species was described as a large white mushroom with straight cylindrical stem. It was boiled, either fresh or dried, and eaten with acorn soup. Mushrooms for drying and storage were shredded. Later when boiled for food they were salted. Sometimes dried mushrooms were pulverized and made into soup. Pressing and blowing of prospective eaters preceded the first eating of the new crop.

Giant Mushroom. Atita (C). This is a huge mushroom, one foot in diameter and with bulging stem. Below, it is pale brown. It is prepared like the preceding.

Elapete (C). This mushroom is shaped like the atita, but is smaller. It is not poisonous, but to the Miwok had an unpleasant flavor. Italians, however, are said to eat it.

Kippisü (C). This is a small mushroom, reputed to taste like an onion. It is eaten both raw and cooked.

Sunokulu (C). This small mushroom grows in clusters. It is boiled before eating.

Poisonous Mushroom. Seke (C). This mushroom looks like the atita except that it lacks the bulging stem. Death was the result of eating it, though an antidote was sometimes successful if only a very small quantity had been eaten. The symptoms of poisoning were bleeding from the nose and mouth, and vomiting. The antidote was a decoction made by boiling dried deer brains, which were usually on hand, as they had been preserved for preparing buckskin by roasting in hot ashes and pressing into cakes. The drinking of the greasy fluid was said to stop the vomiting and bleeding. If one ate seke in the woods there was little hope for him, though the quantity eaten made some difference. If a person ate but one mouthful a mile from home, he might reach home, but would be very sick before he arrived.

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32Chesnut, 300.
33Chesnut, 300.



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