A tree index for a classic of ethnobotany
Recently, I discovered a fascinating little book: Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region. Melvin Randolph Gilmore researched and compiled this report for the Smithsonian Institute in 1911-1912. It was published by the Washington Government Printing Office in 1919.
This great reference can be downloaded free of charge from Google Books or from the homepage of the Southwest School of Botannical Medicine (SWSBM). The download is under 2M in size, and the book is about 120 pages long. It is also available for purchase at various online bookstores.
The book describes how trees and other plants were used by Plains Indians for food, medicine, tools, weapons, shelter, rituals, apparel, personal care, etc. The body of information is far too complex to summarize here, but I'm sure I will be referring to it in the future when I write about individual tree species.
I grew up in the Sandhills of northern Nebraska. We didn't live in the Missouri River valley, but all our rivers flowed to the Missouri. I found this book particularly interesting because I know many of the prairie plants that are mentioned in the book.
|Chokecherry leaf, blossom, & fruit|
My index appears at the end of this post. If you add Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region to your own nature library, perhaps the index will be useful to you, too. If the list seems short, remember that the prairies didn't have many trees!
Please note that some of these trees are not native to the Missouri River regions. However, the Indians used various parts of these trees when they could obtain them through travel or trade.
The first name for each entry in my index is a common name that I have assigned. It is not always the same as the common name cited by Gilmore. The second name (italicized) is the Latin name as it appears in the book. This may or may not be the same Latin name the plant goes by today.The third notation is the page on which that tree is mentioned.
Image credit: USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service
Index to the trees mentioned in Melvin Randolph Gilmore's Uses of Plants by the Indians of the Missouri River Region
Ash, green -- Fraxinus pennsylvanica -- 78
Ash, prickly -- Zanthoxylum americanum -- 64
Basswood, American -- Tilia americana -- 70
Birch, paper -- Betula papyrifera -- 33
Black walnut -- Juglans nigra -- 32
Boxelder -- Acer negundo -- 68
Chinaberry -- Melia azederach -- 64
Chokecherry --Padus nana (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana) -- 51
Chokecherry, western -- Prunus melanocarpa (Prunus virginiana var. melanocarpa) -- 52
Cottonwood -- Populus sargentii -- 29
Crab apple -- Malus ioensis -- 48
Dogwood, redossier -- Cornus stolonifera -- 77
Dogwood, roughleaf -- Cornus asperifolia (Cornus drummondii)-- 77
Elderberry, American black -- Sambucus canadensis -- 87
Elm, American -- Ulmus americana -- 34
Elm, rock -- Ulmus thomasii -- 34
Elm, slippery -- Ulmus fulva (Ulmus rubra) -- 34
Hackberry -- Celtis occidentalis -- 35
Hawthorne, fireberry -- Crataegus chrysocarpa -- 49
Hazelnut -- Corylus americana -- 32
Hickory, shagbark -- Hicoria ovata (Carya ovata) -- 32
Highbush cranberry -- Viburnum opulus -- 87
Kentucky coffeetree -- Gymnocladus dioica -- 52
Maple, silver -- Acer saccharinum -- 67
Maple, sugar -- Acer saccharum --67
Nannyberry (Black haw) -- Viburnum lentago -- 87
Oak, bur -- Quercus macrocarpa -- 33
Oak, red -- Quercus rubra -- 33
Osage orange -- Toxylon pomiferum (Maclura pomifera) -- 35
Pine, lodgepole -- Pinus murrayana -- 18
Redcedar -- Juniperus virginiana -- 18
Sumac, smooth -- Rhus glabra --66
Wild plum -- Prunus americana -- 49
Willow -- Salix sp. -- 31