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Culturally Significant Plants

Cover of Culturally Significant Plants PublicationThe historical use of native plants has become of interest to many Tribal peoples and also to the general public. This information was developed as a general educational tool to satisfy this interest. This program is not a source of reference for research or an in-depth explanation of individual plant characteristics and uses.  For a more detailed study of each plant you should visit the PLANTS Database.

Plants played an integral part of every American Indian tribe's existence. Plants were used as food, ceremonial artifacts, and in medicines. Additional plants were also important in traditional American Indian lifestyles. Each slide lists the major food, cultural or medicinal qualities once used by American Indians or European colonists for the plants shown.

Each slide has the common and scientific name as listed on the Plants Database web site. Additional scientific synonyms and common names are listed because these plants are referred to in some older publications or geographic locations by different names. Many people will recognize the plant by a previously used Latin name or a different common name. You may use any of this information for your own uses. For more information please contact Richard Wynia by email or phone (785) 539-8761. If you encounter any problems with the files provided on this page, please contact Webmaster at 520-292-2999 Ext. 112.

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Culturally Significant Plants (PDF; 3.7 MB), USDA NRCS Manhattan Plant Materials Center, Manhattan, Kansas