Ethnobotanical Uses

Ricegrass, Indian - Oryzopsis hymenoides



"Indian ricegrass was probably the most valuable wild cereal harvested in out area during prehistoric times, as evidenced by the remains of seeds unearthed from numerous archaeological sites. Rice grass seed continued to be regularly harvested and eaten well into the time when cultivated corn was the main subsistence food." (Dunmire and Tierney 156-7)

"Apache, Western Porridge Seeds ground, mixed with cornmeal and water, and made into a mush. Apache, White Mountain Bread & Cake Seeds ground and used to bake bread and pones. ---Havasupai Bread& Cake Seeds parched, ground fine, boiled, thickened, made into balls, and eaten as dumplings." "(Moerman 370)


"Paiute, Northern ---Special Food Seeds considered a good food to eat when suffering from stomachaches, colic, or aching bones. When a person was suffering from any of of these sicknesses, Indian ricegrass seeds should have been the only food eaten." "(Moerman 370-1)

Grass, Indian - Sorghastrum nutans



"(Little Bluestem Grass - Schizachyrium scoparium) Comanche Stem ashes used for syphilitic sores." (Moerman 521)

Other Uses:

"(Sideoats Gramma - Bouteloua curtipendula) Tewa Grass bundled, dried, made into brooms, and used to sweep floors, hearths and metates. Grass bundled, dried, and used as hairbrushes. (Apache) Moist grass laid onto hot stones to prevent steam from escaping. Kiowa Worn by those, who in battle, had killed an enemy with a lance; grass resembled the feathered lance." (Moerman 127)

"Both little bluestem and side-oats grama have been associated with broom and brush making at several of the northern pueblos in the old days. The dried clumps would be collected in late summer or early fall, then tied in bundles. The soft tip end of such a bundle would be used to sweep the floor of an adobe home. Another bundle might be tied in reverse at the short butt end used for a hairbrush or to brush spines off cactus fruit." (Dunmire and Tierney 161)

"Lakota Grass rubbed into softness and used as furlike insulation in moccasins during the winter." (Moerman 521)

"Comanche Bundles of stems used as switches in the sweat lodge." (Moerman 521)