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Secretary of Natural Resources Office

Ethnobiology

Plants and animals have always held places of importance to the Cherokee people. Below are a few plants and animals that have significant meaning to Cherokees.

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  • Osage Orange
    Osage Orange wood is renowned for its use in crafting Cherokee bows. It is not an easy wood to carve but affords itself to strong, fast, and durable bows.
  • Persimmon
    Persimmons were eaten raw by Cherokees, and also used to make persimmon bread, and would also dry the fruit to make “prunes”.
  • Rattlesnake Master
    Rattlesnake Master is known by Cherokee experts as a “warrior’s plant” and as a “survival kit.”
  • Red Oak
    Cherokees use the wood from the Red Oak to keep the sacred eternal fire burning at pow wows.
  • Red-tailed Hawk
    The Red-tailed Hawk is said to be a protector spirit of the Cherokees and is therefore considered sacred. Tail feathers were and are used ceremonially.
  • River Cane
    River cane has been used for many generations in making arrows, baskets, blowguns, and flutes.
  • Shagbark
    Shagbark hickory can be found growing in the oak-hickory forests in Adair, Cherokee and southern Delaware counties.