Uses of Plants in Arapaho

Many people think of the Plains tribes such as the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Lakota and others as relying primarily on the buffalo for their sustenance. While this is certainly true in many ways, the Arapaho used a great variety of plants as well. Their use of plants falls into four major categories. Under each category are listed some of the most important plants for the use in question.

Food plants

Berries: chokecherry, buffaloberry, gooseberry, currant, grape, serviceberry, cherry, strawberry, plum, rasperry, skunkberry

Roots: arrowroot, wild carrot, indian potato, biscuitroot, bitterroot, wild onion, hog peanut

Greens: wild onion, thistle, clover, bolete mushrooms

Medicinal plants

1) Gastro-intestinal: rocky mountain juniper, mint, sweet cicely, buckwheat, rose, common juniper

2) Dermatological: milkweed, thistle, lichen, sorrel, nettle

3) Respiratory: sneezeweed, rocky mountain juniper, common juniper, mullein

4) Pain reliever: sage, sneezeweed, gilia, indian potato, willow

5) Urinary and kidney: horsetail, mint, dandelion

6) Cough, throat: indian turnip, rocky mountain and common juniper, indian potato

Ceremonial and smoking plants

Sage, sweetgrass, subalpine fir, rocky mountain juniper, bearberry, red-osier dogwood, indian turnip, plains cottonwood, mountain birch

Tools, implements, dyes, perfumes, etc.

Willow, lodgepole pine, plains cottonwood, yucca, box elder, mint, wild rose, sorrel, toadflax, oregon grape, alumroot, sage, mountain birch

Go straight to complete lists of Arapaho plants:

Alphabetical Listing of Plants Used by the Arapaho (listed by English name)