Uncategorized Deciduous, FAM, Florida, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida History, Florida Plants, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Hamamelis viginiana, Native People, Native Plants, Witch Hazel
Well, tomorrow marks the last day of Florida Archaeology Month 2011. I hope you took this opportunity to explore the unique and wonderful past of our amazing state. If you did attend a Florida Archaeology Month event (which I hope you did, of course!) and you would like to fill out a survey but did not receive one, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would be more than happy to send a survey your way! We are always looking for ways to improve Florida Archaeology Month, and this survey is your opportunity to let us know what you are thinking. Now, let us move on and get to the reason you are really reading this post, our last Plant of the Week! I hope you have been enjoying this series to celebrate this years theme, “Native People, Native Plants”!
The Witch Hazel plant, found in Florida woods.
Description: Deciduous shrub or small tree to 15 ft. Leaves obovate, scalloped margins, with uneven, wedge shaped bases. Flowers yellow in axillary clusters, flowers bloom after leaves drop.
Long regarded as a cure-all, witch hazel has been used in a wide variety of applications, both internally and externally. Teas from the plant have been used to treat cold, cough, sore throat, and dysentery to name only a few. A wash made from witch hazel was a common treatment for sore muscles and bruising. It has also long been used to tone and clean the skin.
Witch hazel is also widely used today (in distilled extracts, ointments, and eyewashes) as an astringent for piles, toning skin and eye ailments. It is used commercially in preparations to treat hemorrhoid symptoms, irritations, minor pain, and itching. Products are FDA approved and available in every pharmacy. Witch hazel is approved in Germany for the treatment of burns, dermatitis, piles, local inflammation of mucous membranes, varicose veins and veinous conditions among others. Tannins in the leaves and bark are thought to be responsible for astringent and hemostatic properties, antioxidant activity.
Uncategorized Chewing Gum, Civil War, Cornus florida, Dogwood, Dogwood Tree, Florida, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida Plants, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Flowering Dogwood, Gum, Liquidambar styraciflua, Native People, Native Plants, Sweet Gum, Sweet Gum Tree, Verbenalin
That’s right folks, this week we have two plants of the week!
The leaves of the Sweet Gum tree.
Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua):
Description: Tree to 125 ft. Outer limbs often corky winged. Leaves shiny, star shaped with 5-7 pointed, finely toothed lobes. Fruits spherical to 1 ½ inches, with projecting points.
The resin or “gum” formed when sweet gum bark is damaged, as well as many other parts of the tree exhibit strong anti-microbial activity. Sweet gum is used commercially as an ingredient in “compound tincture of benzoin”. The essential oil of the leaf contains compounds similar to those found in Australian tee tree, known for it’s anti-microbial properties.The gum was historically used by rural children as a chewing gum substitute. The twig, when chewed, becomes a good “survival” toothbrush.
Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida):
Description: Deciduous tree 10-30 ft. Leaves ovate. Flowers in clusters, 4 showy, white bracts surround true flower.Fruits bright red to ¼ inch across.
Dogwood was widely used by American Indians as a medicine plant. It contains verbenalin, which reportedly has anti-inflammatory and pain reducing qualities, as well as being a cough suppressant and mild laxative. The red berries from the Flowering Dogwood tree are dry, very bitter and
The leaves and berries of the Dogwood in autumn.
considered inedible. Dogwood root bark tea was widely used in the south as a quinine substitute, especially during the Civil War. An 1830 herbal study from Virginia commented that the teeth of Indians and captive Africans in the area were extremely white, and attributed this to dogwood chewing sticks. Like sweet gum, dogwood twigs form a soft pliable “brush” when chewed.
Uncategorized Adams Needle, American Indians, Archaeology, Cord, Fish Weirs, Florida, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida History, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Native People, Native Plants, Natural Fibers, Nets, Rope, Saponins, Soap, Textiles, Yucca, Yucca filamentosa
Description: Perennial to 9 ft. in flower. Leaves in a rosette, stiff, spine tipped, oblong to lance shaped, with twisting, fraying
Historic ad for Yucca Tonic, used as medicinal remedy.
fibers along margins. Flowers whitish green bells on smooth, branched stalks.
American Indians used roots in a compress for sprains, sores, and skin diseases. A root wash may also have been used for its soaping action. The roots of most yucca species, including filamentosa contain saponins. These compounds produce long lasting soaping action and have been used in the manufacture of soaps and shampoos, both commercially and traditionally. Today you can purchase soap that is made from yucca in stores or online.
The saponins contained in Yucca filamentosa are toxic to lower life forms. Pounded roots may have been applied to fish weirs to stupefy fish allowing for easy harvest.
The leaf of Adams needle has been valued by American Indians as a source of strong fibers for centuries. This fiber is yielded through a process of boiling the leaf until reduced to a pulpy consistency. Excess matter can then be scraped away yielding abundant strong fibers. These fibers can be used to craft textiles, cord, rope, nets, and so on.
Fibers and cordage made from Yucca filamentosa.
Uncategorized acetyl-salicylic acid, Archaeology, aspirin, Black Willow, Florida, Florida Archaeology, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida History, Florida Public Archaeology Network, medicine, Native Americans, North Florida, plant, red root, salicin, Salix caroliniana, Salix nigra, semi-synthetic drug, Southeast, Southeastern Indian, Willow
Description: Shrubby or tree to 30ft.(caroliniana).Tree to 100 ft. or more (nigra), trunks often leaning. Leaves finely sharp toothed to 6 inches, pointed. Male and female flowers on separate trees, with drooping catkins about 2 inches long.
Black willow (Salix nigra) in early fall.
All parts of the willow plant contain salicin, a precursor to acetyl-salicylic acid (aspirin). Metabolic action in the liver, kidneys, and intestines converts plant compounds to aspirin after consumption. This metabolic action of the plants compounds actually creates an aspirin tailor fitted to the metabolism and body chemistry of the person ingesting it. The medicine that the Muskogee Indians create using this plant is a liquid called Mikko Hoyvniche, which when translated means, “King Passing Through”. This illustrates the importance of this medicine in the Southeastern Indian spirituality. It is used both as a medicine to cure aches and pains as well as used in ceremonies. Historically important to Native Americans of the southeast, the willow continues to be held in high regard by traditional people of native descent. Old-timers may call it “red root”.
Many types of willow are currently used in the production of aspirin. Aspirin is the most widely available semi-synthetic drug in the world. Black willow (Salix nigra) is the most common type found throughout North Florida.
Early aspirin bottle. Aspirin is still made using compounds from the willow plant.
Uncategorized black drink, caffeine, cassina, coffee, Florida, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Ilex vomitoria, medicine, North America, North Carolina, plant Yaupon, pre-columbian, purging, Southeastern Indian, tea, trade, vomit, Yaupon Holly, yaupon tea
Description: Evergreen shrub or small tree 6-15 ft. Leaves to 2 inches long, elliptical, leathery, round toothed. Red berries in clusters.
Possibly the most misunderstood medicine plant in the southeast, Yaupon is widely believed to induce vomiting. This idea is false; yaupon tea no more induces vomiting than does coffee or the tea we drink today. This misconception likely arises from early European observers misinterpreting the ceremonial activities of native southeastern people.
While some ritual purging of the beverage may have occurred in certain circumstances, this purging was voluntary. It was usually accomplished by a large quantity of hot tea being consumed very quickly, the purging was not induced by any chemical compounds in the plant.
Southeastern ceremony involving "Black Dri
Yaupon is the only plant native to North America known to produce significant amounts of caffeine, yaupon was an extremely valued commodity in pre-Columbian society. The plant, plant parts, and plant products were traded extensively from the Ohio River Valley to peninsular Florida, the coastal Carolinas and beyond.
Shortly after arrival in Florida, the Spanish began to suffer shortages of coffee, and quickly adopted the native tea as a replacement. Consumption of yaupon tea remained popular throughout the southeast for centuries, and persists in some areas today. Modern inhabitants of North Carolinas outer banks region drink yaupon tea, called cassina.
Uncategorized Archaeology, Archaeology Education, Barbara Hines, Eddible Plants, Florida, Florida Anthropological Society, Florida Archaeological Council, Florida Archaeology Month, Florida Archaeology Month 2011, Florida Department of State, Florida Division of Historical Resources, Florida Public Archaeology Network, Governor Martin House, History, Hontoon Island, Key Marco, Lafayette Street, Loran Anderson, March, Medicinal Plants, medicine, Native People, Native Plants, Outreach, Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee, Pine Island, Plant of the Week, Poster, Prehistory, Southeast, Tools, Windover
Happy Florida Archaeology Month everyone! That’s right, our wonderful state has a whole month dedicated to archaeology, and that month is March! This statewide event is held each year to allow Floridians and visitors a chance to learn more about the archaeology and history of our state, and to preserve these important parts of our rich cultural heritage. Each year we have a different theme, and this year’s theme is “Native Plants, Native People”. It explores how native people in Florida used plants and how archaeologist investigate these plants that were used by prehistoric inhabitants of Florida. You can find a calendar of events at http://www.fasweb.org/index.htm.
Each year many organizations are involved in coordinating this statewide celebration, including the Florida Anthropological Society, the Florida Public Archaeology Network, the Florida Archaeological Council and the Department of State, Division of Historical Resources. Many local museums, historical commissions, libraries, and public and private schools also participate and support Florida Archaeology Month.
Each year there is also a poster that is created around the theme. This years poster is two sided and highlights some of the sites in Florida that have contained plant remains. It is a beautiful poster! Probably one of my favorites so far. If you would like to pick one up, just let me know. They are free and a wonderful educational tool. You can also view it at the website mentioned above.
Most people don’t think of plants when they think of archaeology, but the study of plants can provide us with insight into what prehistoric people were eating, what medicines they were using, what tools they were making and their ceremonial activities. By studying sites that contain plants, such as Windover, Key Marco, Pineland, Hontoon Island and various others, we have learned that plants made up to fifty percent of the native diet and at least that much (if not more) of their material goods! However, plant remains are very fragile, and it is very rare to find plant remains at an archaeological site, so these sites are very special and unique. In celebration of Florida Archaeology Month this year, we are going to explore the native plants of Florida and how they were used by prehistoric peoples with our “Plant of the Week” posts. Of course, it is very important to note that this information is just for INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES! Do not use the plants in the manner that we will describe. Native people had an intensive and vast knowledge of the plants and the individuals that were using them. We are just beginning to understand how these plants were used by prehistoric people, so remember, read and learn, but please don’t try! Even edible plants that are considered harmless can have undesirable effects on your body if you are not used to ingesting or using them in the manner described. We hope you will learn a great deal this month about our state’s unique cultural heritage. Hopefully this new knowledge that you gain this month will create a greater appreciation for our state’s cultural sites. So please, take some time this month to attend some local Florida Archaeology Month events in your area. You never know what you might learn! So, again, happy Florida Archaeology Month!
If you are in the Tallahassee area, you might consider joining the Panhandle Archaeological Society at Tallahassee tonight at the B. Calvin Jones Center for Archaeology (Governor Martin House-located at 1001 DeSoto Park Drive, off of Lafayette Street behind Olive Garden) starting at 7pm for a discussion on native plants and the prehistoric peoples of Florida. Loran Anderson and myself will both be presenting on this topic. It is sure to be a great time for all and a wonderful way to kick off Florida Archaeology Month. Anderson&Hines