Wagmú waȟčá waŋ

Looking back, posting a pic from September: A late-season squash blossom. I had bought some Mexico-grown kabocha squash in early spring and thrown the seeds out onto the compost pile. A few of them grew into squash vines, but the compost pile doesn’t get great sun, so I transplanted them into the garden. Here isContinue reading “Wagmú waȟčá waŋ”

Uŋskúyeča Úta kiŋ: Burr Oak Acorns

September is acorn season in the Dakotas. And our local indigenous variety, uskúyeča (Burr Oak) has acorns that are prized for their low tannic acid content. Unlike other varieties that require hours or days of soaking in water to leach out the acids and make them edible, these acorns can be eaten with minimal leaching.Continue reading “Uŋskúyeča Úta kiŋ: Burr Oak Acorns”

Núŋǧe Yazáŋ Pȟežúta

Seen on Rattlesnake Butte, on the SD side of the reservation. Linda Black Elk told me that it is called Núŋǧe Yazáŋ Pȟežúta, or Earache Medicine. She said that people dry it and apply a poultice of the leaves for an earache. I am not sure what the English or Latin names are, and IContinue reading “Núŋǧe Yazáŋ Pȟežúta”

Milkweed Seed Pods

Milkweed Seedpods A common sight here in the fall: milkweed pods, dried out and bursting open. The little seeds inside prepare to take flight, their silky parachutes opening so they ride the wind to their new homes. There are many species of milkweed. North Dakota alone is home to 10 of them. This one, CommonContinue reading “Milkweed Seed Pods”

Nettle and Milkweed Cordage

Cordage/yarn created out of nettle stems and milkweed stems last summer. These are the work of Jana, the incredibly talented artist, spinner, and weaver behind Ffeltabertawe. (I will add a link if I can find one.) She came to the reservation during the #NoDAPL  pipeline resistance movement, and stayed to do some amazing things withContinue reading “Nettle and Milkweed Cordage”

Plant Anomalies: Insect Galls

I’ve been examining these fantastical-looking green balls on one particular hillside for years, wondering what was going on with them. They often looked like strings of green pearls, rooted in the prairie. Was this some bizarre natural feature of the plant? Had it been attacked by an insect and formed a whole cluster of galls?Continue reading “Plant Anomalies: Insect Galls”

Anishinaabe-style Čheyáka in Cree territory

Anishinaabe-style Čheyáka in Cree territory…what? This tri-national title sounds confusing: two indigenous nations, and a plant name from a third. Let me explain. Čheyáka? I always think of čheyáka as its Lakota name. I have to think a little longer to remember its scientific name…Mentha arvensis. And even longer to recall its common English name.Continue reading “Anishinaabe-style Čheyáka in Cree territory”

North Dakota Nopales

La Enchilada is my favorite Mexican restaurant in Bismarck. I was surprised when the family that owns it told me that their nopales (prickly pear cactus, an Indigenous Mexican staple food) on the menu was fresh, not canned. Fresh nopales in North Dakota? But it turns out they had a plant out back: While theseContinue reading “North Dakota Nopales”

Midsummer Corn

Some of my Mandan Bride corn in early July. (If you’re unfamiliar with Mandan Bride corn, this link will take you to another grower’s account of it.) Corn flowers are up and fertilizing the ears, maybe ~45 days after planting: and here is one of the first ears developing!