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


Of interest equal to the utilized plants are sixty named but not utilized, of which forty-seven have been completely identified. Whether all are actually inedible is not known, nor is it known if some time in the past the Miwok have experimented with these and discovered that they could not be utilized as food. Of the forty-seven plants, however, seven are utilized by the Yuki and Pomo,52 to-wit: Alnus rhombifolia53 Nutt. for dye, medicine, arrows, and tinder; Amelanchier alnifolia54 Nutt. for food and arrows; Helenium puberulum55 DC. for medicine; Lonicera interrupta56 Benth. for nectar, medicine, and basketry; Rhamnus californica57 Esch., Rhus diversiloba58 T. & G. for food (leaves), medicine, wrapping for food in earth oven, basketry, and skin paint; Lithophragma affinis59 Gray for medicine.

Two unused Miwok plants, Sonchus asper L. and Lotus strigosus (Nutt.) Greene, were used by the Luiseño as greens.60

The plants recorded as not used by the Miwok are the following:

Alnus rhombifolia Nutt. (pamalu, C); Amelanchier alnifolia Nutt. (yossina, C); Antennaria argentea Benth. (potokpota. C); Arctostaphylos patula Greene (palapala, C); Barbarea vulgaris (L) R. Br. (sosowina, C); Brassica sp. (wimeya, C); Brodiaea volubilis (Kell.) Baker (wakilwakilu, C); Bromus rubens L. (tcuppayu, C), stickers a nuisance to people wearing moccasins; Calyptridium umbellatum (Torr.) Greene (paipaiyu, C); Carduus sp. (yotcta, C); Ceanothus cordulatus Kell. (cenehe, C), eaten by deer; Collinsia tinctoria Hartw. (tcata lawati, C, literally “rattlesnake’s rattle,” and istamü, C); Collinsia torreyi Gray (osta, C); Collomia grandiflora Dougl. (witcima, C); Cryptanthe affinis Greene (sosolina, C); Cryptanthe sp. (susu); Epilobium adenocaulon Haussk. (tcêpise); Epilobium sp. (samlili); Fontinalis sp. (tcepekula); Funaria hygrometrica (tcepekuda, C); Gilia achillaefolia Mason (lelema, C); Gilia androsacea Steud. var. montana (suppatawa, C); Habenaria unalaschensis (Spreng.) Wats. (sasi, C), a poisonous plant which caused blood vomiting if eaten; Helenium bigelovii Gray (hangu, C); Helenium puberulum DC. (polobia, C); Juncus sp. (kokoyu, C); Kelloggia galioides Torr. (pusukulu, C); Lithophragma affinis Gray (epesenu, C); Lonicera interrupta Benth. (wa'kilwakīlu, C); Lotus oblongifolius (Benth.) Greene (lulumati, C); Lotus strigosus (Nutt.) Greene (cikasi, C); Lotus torreyi Gray (susuyi, C); Marrubium vulgare L. (yotcitayu, C); Mimulus sp. (yasañnaña, C); OEnothera strigosa Willd. (sonta, C); Osmaronia cerasiformis (T. & G.) Greene (poloyina, C); Peucedanum sp. (sumsümi, C); Pentstenton heterophyllus Lindl. (yutumpula, C); Plantago lanceolata L. (supa, C); Potentilla glandulosa Lindl. (yatcatca, C), although not poisonous, informants said seeds not eaten because too few to gather; Polygonum lapathifolium L. (tcostowina, C); Populus tremuloides Michx. (taktakkalu, C); Rhamnus californica Esch. (lo'o, C); Rhus diversiloba, T.& G. (nukusu, C); Rudbeckia sp. (mika, C); Salix sp. (sisima, C); Sarcodes sanguinea Torr. (hokolpate, C), plucked because of beauty; Scutellaria bolanderi Gray (susupe, C); Senecio triangularis Hook. (yusuyi, C); Sidalcea glaucescens Greene (lotowiye, C); Silene californica Dur. (pusulu, C), rats eat seeds; Sonchus asper L. (tcitimpa, C); Symphoricarpos rotundifolius Gray (mokolkine, C); Taraxacum officinale Weber (natumnatumma, C); Trifolium pratense L. (yenwa, C); Verbascum blattaria L. (yotowina, C); Viola adunca Sm. (sitimpa, C).

Completely unidentified: sepekula, (C), a lichen; elapete and seke, mushrooms.

The attitude of mind toward the unused species of the plant world is perhaps well indicated by an aged informant. When asked if a species of Polygonum was harmful, she said she did not know and was afraid to try unknown things. Yet sometime in the past there must have been an initial trial of each species used.

52 Chesnut, Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California, 295-408.
53Chesnut, 332.
54Chesnut, 355.
55Chesnut, 394
56Chesnut, 388.
57Chesnut, 368.
58Chesnut, 364.
59Chesnut, 353.
60Sparkman, 228, 231.

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Online Library: Title Author California Geology History Indians Muir Mountaineering Nature Management