Some historic agroforestry products

Daniel B. Wheeler dwheeler at
Thu Jun 7 11:20:19 EST 2001

The following is extracted from "The Natural Legacy of Lewis and
Clark," by Jolene Krawczak, published as a special report by The
Oregonian on May 24, 2001. The article covers several pages, and is
too long in my opinion to offer here complete.

Highlights of the article mention several of the 176 plants described
by Lewis and Clark during their historic expedition:

Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera): used by Jamie Easter in Iowa to make
high-quality bows from.

Purple Coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia): Medicinal herb
inaccurately identified in the article (purple coneflower is Echinacea
purpurea, E. angustifolia is white) used to "fortify the immune system
and the lessen the effect of colds and flue".
	"Lewis and Clark had learned of echinacea from the Native Americans,
who used it as a cure for snake bite, "the cure of mad dogs" (Clark)
and "An excellent poltice for swellings or soar throat" (Lewis)."
	Before going out to make your fortune picking Echinacea, be aware
that "Glinda Crawford, professor of environmental studies at the
University of North Dakota, has been a leader in the fight to preserve
wild ecinhacea. Thanks in part to her effors, "bio-prospecting" of the
wild plants without permits or permission is now illegal in several
states along the Lewis and Clark Trail. North Dakoa legislators have
made illegal collection of echinacea a Class A misdemeanor punishable
by a year in prison and a $2,000 fine and subject to civil penalties
of a $10,000 fine and forfeiture of a vehicle used to transport
illegal echinacea."

Lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta): being used to make lodgepole pine
furniture by Bill and Dave Fortner in Lolo, Montana, who were
interviewed by Martha Stewart. Furniture is just one of the new
businesses being shaped by new forestry. According to the article, new
forestry: "...accommodates multiple uses, including logging,
recreation, wildlife habitat and commercial pursuits, such as the
Fortners' roadside business. they make their furniture of standing
deadwood, including trees burned in last summer's widespread fires."

Prickly Pear Cactus (Opuntia polyacantha): "Overgrazing by heards of
buffalo depleted the natural grasses and allowed the prickly pear to
invade and cover the bare soil."
	"Today the Great Falls have been dammed and much of the surrounding
land is now covered with wheat farms. But prickly pear still grows
where it gets the chance - on rocky slopes, on roadsides where the
soil has been distubred and not replanted, and tucked low in fields of
taller grasses."
	That would seems to make prickly pear one of the first noxious weeds
introduced by overgrazing. Yet it is edible, once the spines have been
removed, and has been used as cattle feed. No word yet whether it
makes good buffalo food.

Lewis's Wild Flax (Linum lewisii): being cultivated and made into
linseed oil, fresh-ground meal high in Omega-3 essential fatty acids,
and fiber.
	"The market for flax - other than for linseed oil or as a fiber - has
never been big because ground or processed flax quickly loses health
benefits if not used shortly after grinding. Heintzman solved the
problem by selling whole flx in kits that include small coffee
grinders to grind each day's supply. He also has worked out a process
to stabilize the flax oil in a nutrition bar that actually tastes

Subsequent articles also covered cottonwood, camas, bitterroot, and

Posted as a courtesy by
Daniel B. Wheeler

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