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Before consuming wild plants, contact your doctor to make sure it is safe, and make positive identification in the field using a good source such as Medicinal Plants of the Mountain West.  Michael Moore’s books contain an excellent glossary of medical terms, as well as maps. )
 
#22
 Common Name: Camas
Latin Name: Camassia quamash
Family: Hyacinthaceae
Native American Names: “kogi” Paiute, “pasigo” Shoshone, “quamash” Umatilla, Ore., “camas” Nez Perce, “miss iss sah” Blackfeet. (1)
Range: http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=CAQU2  (main database) Western U.S. – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming
Appearance and Habitat:  A bulbous plant with basal clusters of narrow, grass-like, bright green leaves. The flowering racemes are 1-3 ft. tall with dozens of showy, star-like, sky- to deep-blue flowers. Light to deep blue-violet, star-shaped flowers in a raceme; several narrow, grass-like leaves grow mostly near the base. The three sepals and three petals all share the blue color. This species is sometimes so frequent as to color entire meadows blue-violet. Indians pit-roasted the bland bulbs with other leaves, and also boiled them, which yielded a good syrup. Another similar species is Leichtlins Camas (C. leichtlinii), which grows only west of the Cascade Mountains, from southern British Columbia to the southern portion of Californias Sierra Nevada, and has radially symmetrical flowers. (2) Coastal mountain forests and wet meadows inland.  Marshy meadows in coniferous forest to 2300 meters.  A bulb growing to 0.3 m (1ft) by 0.2 m (0ft 8in).
It is hardy to zone 3 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen from Jul to August. (3)
Edible Uses: Bulb – raw or cooked. The bulb, which can be up to 5cm in diameter, has a mild, starchy flavour when eaten raw, but a gummy texture that reduces the enjoyment of it somewhat. When cooked, however, it develops a delicious sweet flavour somewhat like sweet chestnuts, and is a highly nutritious food. Excellent when slow baked, it can also be dried and made into a powder which can be used as a thickener in stews or mixed with cereal flours when making bread, cakes etc. The bulbs can be boiled down to make a molasses, this was used on festival occasions by various Indian tribes. The bulbs can be harvested at any time of the year, but are probably best in early summer when the seeds are ripe. One report says that the bulbs contain inulin (a starch that cannot be digested by humans) but that this breaks down when the bulb is cooked slowly to form the sugar fructose which is sweet and easily digested. Quamash bulbs were a staple food of the N. American Indians. The tribes would move to the Quamash fields in the early autumn and, whilst some people harvested the bulbs, others would dig a pit, line it with boulders then fill it with wood and set fire to it. The fire would heat the boulders and the harvested bulbs would then be placed in the pit and the whole thing covered with earth and the bulbs left to cook slowly for 2 days. The pit would then be opened and the Indians would feast on the bulbs until they could no longer fit any more in their stomachs. Whatever was left would be dried and stored for winter use. (4) Queen of all bulbs in the Inter-Mountain region.  After seed is ripe the bulbs may be dug.  When warm, after roasting, the black bark is removed and they are pressed.  Their fragrance is like vanilla cake.  A few are eaten as desert, but the bulk is placed in sacks hung out of reach of children and brought out on special occasions.  The taste is like brown  or maple sugar. (5)
Medicinal Uses: A decoction of the roots has been used to induce labour. An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat vaginal bleeding after birth and to help expel the placenta. (6)
Foot Notes (1, 5) Indian Uses of Native Plants by Edith Murphey, page 14-15, Publisher: Meyerbooks Copy right 1990; ISBN 0-916638-15-4
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# 21
 
Common name: Cat Tail
Latin Name: Typha latifolia, T. angustifolia, T. domingensis
Family: Typaceae
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=TYAN entire country with the exception of Arizona, Utah, Alaska, Hawaii, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida.
http://plants.usda.gov/java/profile?symbol=TYDO southern latitudes from Oregon, Wyoming, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland south, but not present in Tennessee.
 
 
 
# 21 (a) (Typha latifolia)
Common name: Common Cat-Tail , Broad-leaf Cat-Tail, Reedmace
Native American Name:  Tabu’oo (Paiute), Toiba (Washoe) (1)
Appearance and Habitat: A stout-stemmed perennial, 4-8 ft. tall, often in found dense clumps. Broad linear leaf blades. The dense, brown, cylindrical flowering spike persist through autumn before becoming a downy mass of white. This tall, stiff plant bears a yellowish, club-like spike of tiny, male flowers extending directly above a brownish cylinder of female flowers.  By its creeping rootstocks, this typical marsh perennial forms dense stands in shallow water and provides a favorable habitat for red-winged blackbirds, as well as other marsh birds, and muskrats. The latter can cause extensive eat outs, creating areas of open water in the marsh. The rootstock is mostly starch and edible; it was ground into meal by Native Americans, and the early colonists also used it for food. The young shoots can be eaten like asparagus, the immature flower spikes can be boiled and eaten like corn on the cob, and the sprouts at the tip of the rootstock can be used in salads or boiled and served as greens. The closely related Narrowleaf Cattail (T. angustifolia) has narrower leaves, up to 1/2 (1.3 cm) across, a narrower fruiting head, less than 3/4 (2 cm) wide, and a gap between the male and female flower clusters. Cattails are monoecious, which means that both male and female flowers appear on the same plant. The male flowers are at the top of the plant with the female part just below. (2) Shallow water up to 15 cm deep in ponds, lakes, ditches, slow-flowing streams etc.  succeeding in acid or alkaline conditions.   Broadleaf Cattail) is a common perennial marsh, or wetland plant in temperate, tropical, and subtropical climates throughout the Northern Hemisphere. Plants are typically 1.5-3 meters (5 to 10 feet) high, with 2-4 cm (.75-1.25 inch) wide leaves, and stems the height of the plant bearing long flower spikes with an upper male staminate section and a lower female pistillate section. Mature flower stalks resemble the tail of a cat. Typha latifolia is an important wild food source; however, caution should be used in selecting plants for harvest from pollution-free areas, as this genus is known to absorb large quantities of toxins where they exist in surrounding water, and may have even been planted in an effort at bioremediation of a toxic spill, such as at the site of a decomposing gas or oil tank.  (3)
Edible Uses: Roots – raw or cooked. They can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield a sweet syrup. The roots can also be dried and ground into a powder, this powder is rich in protein and can be mixed with wheat flour and then used for making bread, biscuits, muffins etc. One hectare of this plant can produce 8 tonnes of flour from the rootstock. The plant is best harvested from late autumn to early spring since it is richest in starch at this time. The root contains about 80% carbohydrate (30 – 46% starch) and 6 – 8% protein. Young shoots in spring – raw or cooked. An asparagus substitute. They taste like cucumber. The shoots can still be used when they are up to 50cm long. Base of mature stem – raw or cooked. It is best to remove the outer part of the stem. It is called ‘Cossack asparagus’. Immature flowering spike – raw, cooked or made into a soup. It tastes like sweet corn. Seed – raw or cooked. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize, but has a pleasant nutty taste when roasted. The seed can be ground into a flour and used in making cakes etc. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Due to the small size of the seed this is probably not a very worthwhile crop. Pollen – raw or cooked. The pollen can be used as a protein rich additive to flour when making bread, porridge etc. It can also be eaten with the young flowers, which makes it considerably easier to utilize. The pollen can be harvested by placing the flowering stem over a wide but shallow container and then gently tapping the stem and brushing the pollen off with a fine brush. This will help to pollinate the plant and thereby ensure that both pollen and seeds can be harvested. (4)
Medical Uses: The leaves are diuretic. The leaves have been mixed with oil and used as a poultice on sores. The pollen is astringent, diuretic, emmenagogue, haemostatic, refrigerant, sedative, suppurative and vulnerary. The dried pollen is said to be anticoagulant, but when roasted with charcoal it becomes haemostatic. It is used internally in the treatment of kidney stones, haemorrhage, painful menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, post-partum pains, abscesses and cancer of the lymphatic system. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women. Externally, it is used in the treatment of tapeworms, diarrhoea and injuries. A decoction of the stems has been used in the treatment of whooping cough. The roots are diuretic, galactogogue, refrigerant and tonic. The roots are pounded into a jelly-like consistency and applied as a poultice to wounds, cuts, boils, sores, carbuncles, inflammations, burns and scalds. The flowers are used in the treatment of a wide range of ailments including abdominal pain, amenorrhoea, cystitis, dysuria, metrorrhagia and vaginitis. The young flower heads are eaten as a treatment for diarrhoea. The seed down has been used as a dressing on burns and scalds.  (5)
Foot Notes: (1, )  Indian Uses of Native Plants by Edith Murphey, page 23, Publisher: Meyerbooks Copy right 1990; ISBN 0-916638-15-4
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# 21(b)
Common Name: Small Reed Mace (Typha angustifolia)
Appearance and Habitat: Water up to 15cm deep, avoiding acid conditions.  Often somewhat brackish or subsaline water or wet soil in America growing from sea level to elevations of 1900 meters.  Found throughout the world but absent from Africa.  A perennial growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft).  It is hardy to zone 3. It is in flower from Jun to July.
Edible Uses: Roots – raw or cooked. They can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield a sweet syrup. The roots can also be dried, ground into a powder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereal flours. Rich in protein, this powder is used to make biscuits etc. Young shoots in spring – raw or cooked. An asparagus substitute. Base of mature stem – raw or cooked. It is best to remove the outer part of the stem. Young flowering stem – raw, cooked or made into a soup. It tastes like sweet corn. Seed – cooked. The seed is very small and fiddly to harvest, but it has a pleasant nutty taste when roasted. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Due to the small size of the seed this is probably not a very worthwhile crop. Pollen – raw or cooked. A protein rich additive to flour used in making bread, porridge etc. It can also be eaten with the young flowers, which makes it considerably easier to utilize. The pollen can be harvested by placing the flowering stem over a wide but shallow container and then gently tapping the stem and brushing the pollen off with a fine brush. This will help to pollinate the plant and thereby ensure that both pollen and seeds can be harvested.
Medicinal Uses: The pollen is diuretic, emmenagogue and haemostatic. The dried pollen is said to be anticoagulant, but when roasted with charcoal it becomes haemostatic. It is used internally in the treatment of kidney stones, internal haemorrhage of almost any kind, painful menstruation, abnormal uterine bleeding, post-partum pains, abscesses and cancer of the lymphatic system. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women. Externally, it is used in the treatment of tapeworms, diarrhoea and injuries. An infusion of the root has been used in the treatment of gravel.
 
# 21(c)
Common Name: Southern Cattail (T. domingensis)
Appearance and Habitat: The Southern Cattail is a member of the cattail family (family Typhaceae). Cattails are aquatic or marsh herbs with creeping rootstocks, long, narrow leaves, and tiny flowers crowded in terminal spikes, with he male (staminate) ones at the top and female (pistillate) below. Spikes above bracts which fall early. There are about 18 species in one genus, which occur in temperate and tropical regions. Typha domingensis aggressively invades and forms nearly pure stands in brackish or nutrient-enriched wetlands in the Florida Everglades and elsewhere (FNA). (1) Brackish to fresh marshes and pools in N. America  at elevations from sea level to 2000 meters.  A perennial growing to 3 m (9ft 10in).  It is hardy to zone 5. (2)
Edible Uses: Roots – raw or cooked. Rich in starch, it can be boiled and eaten like potatoes or macerated and then boiled to yield a sweet syrup. The root can also be dried, ground into a poder and then used as a thickener in soups etc or added to cereal flours. Rich in protein, this flour is used to make biscuits, bread, cakes etc. The root contains a lot of fibre. One way to remove this fibre is to peel lengths of the root that are about 20 – 25cm long, place them by a fire for a short while to dry and then twist and loosen the fibres when the starch of the root can be shaken out. Young shoots in spring – raw or cooked. An asparagus substitute. The inner core is eaten. Base of mature stem – raw or cooked. It is best to remove the outer part of the stem. Young flowering stem – raw, cooked or made into a soup. Tastes like sweet corn. Seed – cooked. The seed is rather small and fiddly to utilize, but has a pleasant nutty taste when roasted. An edible oil is obtained from the seed. Due to the small size of the seed this is probably not a very worthwhile crop. Pollen – raw or cooked. A protein rich additive to flour used in making bread, porridge etc. It can also be eaten with the young flowers, which makes it considerably easier to utilize. The pollen can be harvested by placing the flowering stem over a wide but shallow container and then gently tapping the stem and brushing the pollen off with a fine brush. This will help to pollinate the plant and thereby ensure that both pollen and seeds can be harvested. (3)
Medicinal Uses: The leaves are diuretic. The pollen is astringent, desiccant, diuretic, haemostatic and vulnerary. It is used in the treatment of nose bleeds, haematemesis, haematuria, uterine bleeding, dysmenorrhoea, postpartum abdominal pain and gastralgia, scrofula and abscesses. It is contraindicated for pregnant women. The seed down is haemostatic. The rootstock is astringent and diuretic. (4)
 
 
Reproduced, in part, (as well as previous postings under this title) in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.
 
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