Arboretum Bulletin Summer 2019, Volume 81, Issue 2 | Page 22

For Native Americans in the region before the incursion of non-natives, the toolies were simply their home and not some remote place. According to Willis Jepson (author of “A Flora of California,” 1909), there were originally about 250,000 acres of tules in California. Marsh plants, including tule, had multiple uses. California tribes (variously, the Ohlone, the Pomo and the Chumash) used tule stems to build boats, and to make floor mats and cloth- ing (sandals, mantles and skirts). Shredded fiber was used for bedding and diapers. In addition, tule was a food source: The rhizomes were eaten raw, or boiled to create a mush or sweet flour. Young shoots were also eaten raw or cooked. Bulrush pollen was considered sweeter than that of cattails and was used in making cakes. Pomo Indians used the roots and leaves to make dye, and the Luiseño used leaves as a poultice for burns and wounds. Maidu women waved wands made of tule in their ceremonial dances. The common tule, Schoenoplectus acutus, is native to wetlands and riparian areas across much of the U.S. and Canada, including Washington State. Next time you explore the waterfront at the Union Bay Natural Area, there’s a good chance you’ll be out in the tules! (Indeed, Chapter 2 of the 1951 book “Union Bay,” by Harry Higman and Earl Larrison was entitled “How the Tule Wrens Acquired Summer Quarters.”) The common name persimmon (Diospyros species) also has indigenous roots and is trans- literated from native languages in a wide range of ways, from possimon to perseman to putchamins and more. The name comes from Powhatan, an Algonquian language of what is now the eastern U.S. and means “choke fruit,” a reference to the highly astringent taste of unripe persimmon. Everyone hears differently, so French settlers in Louisiana and Illinois referred to the fruit as piaguimina, piakimina, or (in Créole) plaqueminier. The first post-European-contact description of persimmon was by an anonymous Portuguese author, the “Gentleman of Elvas,” in his 1557 account of Hernando de Soto’s explora- tion in what is now the southeastern U.S. The word he used was ameixas, meaning “plum” in 20 v Washington Park Arboretum Bulletin American persimmon, Diospyros virginiana. Tradescantia zebrina. (Photo courtesy Mokkie/Wikimedia Commons) Hesperantha coccinea. (Photo courtesy Alexey Yakovlev/Wikimedia Commons)