Native Plants Of Our Region- Chokecherries

Native Plants Of Our Region- Chokecherries

Chokecherries have dark berries in summer in this region. Historic Omaha-Ponca Indians called chokecherries “little cherry”. Dakota Indians signified “month when cherries are ripe” as part of their calendar. Chokecherries may be found naturally along horse trails in wetter areas at Lewis & Clark Recreation Area. Pits of chokecherries are small and removal difficult, so cherries with pits were pounded with stone mortars and made into cakes that were dried in the sun. Dakota Indians prepared “wasna”, a mincemeat high-energy, easy to transport cake which contained ground dried meat, animal fat, and dried chokecherries, according to Delvaux. Historic Ponca used cherry bark or dried fruit in hot water to drink as a remedy for diarrhea. Trappers were said to have washed their traps in this bark water to remove scent of caught animals. Seasonal ranger for the National Park Service and Vermillion High School history teacher, Joe Delvaux talked about cultural uses of plants as a weekly topic for Missouri National Recreational River last summer. He offered chokecherries to taste. Delvaux selected samples such as buffalo-berry and chokecherry because they are recognizable and important to the region. One of his sources is Uses of Plant by the Indians of the Missouri River Region by Melvin R. Gilmore. He said that ranger programs on Missouri River topics may be requested for area classrooms at Missouri National Recreational River: (605) 605.665.0209

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