Manataka American Indian Council











By H. H. Smith, circa 1924


PART III - Menomini Medicine Details


Introduction, Medicine Overview, Foods


Fibers and Dyes






Tree Lichen (Sticta glomulerifera) "wakn" [plural waknk].  This is a plate-like lichen growing on many different kinds of trees on the reservation, but is gathered only from hard maple or hemlock trees. It is in a sense a food, and yet a food eaten as a medicine to act as an alterative in run-down systems. It is gathered at any season of the year and put away dried. When wanted for use it is put into soups, where it swells somewhat like Irish moss, and is eaten with a relish. There is probably no more nourishment in it than in the general run of fleshy fungi, or about five per cent of food value, but it is highly esteemed by the Menomini for its tonic effect on the system and the blood.



Chara (Chara fragilis or vulgaris). Indian name unknown. This flourishes on the floor of several lakes, and was thought to be of some use in kidney troubles, but its exact name or use was unknown to my guide.



Gem Puffballs (Lycoperdon pyriforme Schaeff.), "iniki'wi opa'skk." These small puffballs were an aboriginal remedy of the Indian mother to cure chafing under the armpits and between the legs of the Indian baby. It might well be called the "Indian baby talcum," as it was eminently the proper shade to use. One Indian said that it had been used in the past by another to blind his enemy, inducing permanent blindness. It has been used in our pharmacopoeias under the name of Lycoperdon spores as a hemostatic and surgical dusting powder.



Marchantia or Liverwort (Marchantia polymorpha L.). This plant had no Indian name and no use was known to my informant, who thought likely some Indian might use it for liver complaints.




Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina L.), "Kaka'ki mnka,"the tree. "Kaka'ki mnka utcipa," the root bark. "Kaka'ki mnka wona'u,"the top of the tree. "Kaka'ki menn," the fruit. "Kaka'ki mnka smene'wt,"the seeds. This tree is a very valuable one to the Indians, yielding three distinct kinds of medicines. The root bark, divested of the outer skin and inner wood, yields a tea which is a remedy for "inward" troubles. It is of course very meager in quantity compared to the amount of root peeled. The inner bark of the trunk is considered a valuable pile remedy and is spoken of as being "puckering" or astringent. The "top," or twigs, of the smaller shrubs is hairy, and because of this is used in the treatment of various fernale diseases. The acid flavored berries are used in combination with other herbs like the Greater St. John's Wort for consumption and pulmonary troubles.




Winterberry (Nemopanthus mucronata (L.) Trel.). Indian name unknown. So far as my informant knew these berries were considered poisonous to human beings, though he said that bears eat them. He thought if they were used by the Menomini, it was for some evil purpose,




Sweet Flag (Acorus calamus L.), "Apaxkiu utcipa" "We'ke," and "Wia'biskitcipa kakasapo'tcikun." The root of this plant is used to cure cramps in the stomach. It is considered a very powerful remedy and is used only in very minute quantities. The measure of a dose is the length of a finger joint. It is also called "Enausa'pokotcikun" meaning "a simple penetrator." It is a good physic for the whole system, clearing the bile and all, but if too much is taken, the Menomini say that it will kill the patient. The blade of the plant was also used in constructing the wigwam. Calamus is official in most pharmacopoeias. It is not largely used in medicine now, but may be given as a mild aromatic stimulant and tonic. It was formerly used by the white man, in the treatment of flatulent colic and atonic dyspepsia, and was supposed to be beneficial in typhoid as a stimulant. Any amount of the dried root may be chewed to relieve dyspepsia.


Dragon Root (Arisaema dracontium (L.) Schott.), "miniuv oset" [owl's foot].  Not much was known to my guide about this medicine, except that it was used in the treatment of female disorders.


Jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum (L.) Schott.), "w's oske'sk"

[the bear's eye].  The fiery root of this plant is pounded up and used as a poultice for sore eyes. The writer did not possess the nerve to try this remedy over the eye, knowing that the fiery prickles when the root is taken into the mouth are due to the mechanical punctures of the very pungent calcium oxylate crystals. He was unable to discover how such a poultice felt, as the informant had never tried it on himself. Small doses of the partially dried drug are used by the white man to treat chronic bronchitis, asthma, flatulent colic and rheumatism.  Juice of the fresh corm in lard has been applied as a local treatment for ringworm.


Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetida (L.) Nutt.), "sika'k utci'pa" [skunk 

root]. This is a root that the bear likes to dig and eat. It is employed as a poultice. The root is first dried, then powdered and then sprayed over the surface of the wound. It is also used as a seasoner with other medicines. Skunk root is also known to the Menomini under the name "mtc otcipa" and according to Naxpon Perrote, the proper name is "mtc pise'wis otic'pa." They give the use as a remedy for cramps. The roothairs alone are used for stopping hemorrhages.


Skunk root is one of the ingredients of the tattooing set. Tattooing was not employed by the Menomini so much for the design as for the treatment of diseases, being a talisman against their return. The medicines were tattooed in over the seat of the pain. Not all of the herbs used were identified, for the writer did not see them growing. Among them were powdered birch bark, charcoal pigment, skunk root, deer's ear root (Menyanthes trifoliata L.), red top root (Lobelia cardinalis L.?), black root (unknown), and yellow root, probably Oxalis acetosella L. The medicines were moistened and tattooed into the flesh with the teeth of the gar pike, dipped in the medicines. The various colors stay and form a guard against the disease. After the tattooing is done, the surface is poulticed with and painted with the medicines. Under the drug name of Dracontium, the white man has employed skunk root as a medicine, as a stimulant, sialagogue, emetic, antispasmodic and narcotic. When taken in large amounts, it causes nausea and vomiting, headache and vertigo. It is probably of little value and rarely employed by the white man.




Indian Spikenard (Aralia racemosa L.), "kwut'tcia kopn" [crane-root, and like a potato]. Shown in plate 15, fig. 3, The root of this species is used in cases of blood poisoning and as a poultice for sores. A drink is also said to be made from the root which is said to be good for the stomachache.


Wild Spikenard (Aralia nudicaulis L.). Not used.


Ginseng (Panax quinquefolium L.) , "Mtcxe'tasa" [little Indian5 ] A specimen was given the writer by Joe Pekore. It was the especial medicine of his wife, Sophie, who had dug it in the woods and transplanted it under a lattice shelter in their yard. Information of its exact use was unobtainable, but it was supposed to act as a tonic and a strengthener of mental powers. While the medicinal value of ginseng is almost nothing, the white man grows it in large quantities and the Menomini seek it as a native drug very assiduously, because of the large5 The informant insisted that the term mtc should be here translated as little. In all other cases, however, it signifies big or great price it brings on the market. It is only a mild stomachic with us, but in China it is their great medicine and is used as a panacea, particularly for dyspepsia, vomiting, nervous disorders and sexual impotence. The value to the Chinese is based upon fanciful considerations, of form and wrinkles, and a single root may be worth as much to them as the entire remainder of the bale.


Dwarf Ginseng (Panax triflorum L.). The use of this as a medicine was not known to my informant, who thought it may have been an aboriginal food.




Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense L.), "nami'pn" [beaver potato]. The fresh or dried root of wild ginger is used by the Menomini as a mild stomachic. When the patient is weak or has a weak stomach, and it might be fatal to eat something he craves, then he must eat a part of this root. Whatever he wants then may be eaten with impunity. Under the name of Canada snakeroot, the white man considers this to be a feeble remedy possessing tonic, aromatic and slight diuretic properties. It is sometimes given with other tonics in convalescence from acute febrile infections.




Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa L.), "kinokwe waxtstau" [lying Indian or deceiver, and man-in-the-ground]. This is one of the most important Menomini medicines. The root is pulverized and used for cuts, wounds and bruises. It is also used in mixing with other roots for other remedies. One of the most important of these compounds consists of this root, ginseng, man-in-the-ground (Echinocystis lobata), and sweet flag. This is considered by the Menomini to represent four Indians in power. The "deceiver" is half boiled, then pounded to strings, to get out the substance, in this case. When a Menomini cuts his foot with an axe, this is the first remedy that comes to his mind. Under the name of pleurisy root, the white man uses a fluid extract as a diuretic and carminative, and in large doses as a cathartic and emetic. Because of its diaphoretic qualities, it has been used in the start of acute diseases like pleurisy and pneumonia. As an expectorant, it has been recommended in many pulmonary and bronchial affections.




Blue Cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides L.), "winupauwa'tcln" [check flow or to stop a flowing]. The root of this plant is boiled to obtain a tea which is drunk for the suppression of profuse menstruation. It is accounted a very valuable female remedy. Physicians among the white men very rarely employ this medicine. Eclectics have used it in the treatment of hysteria and uterine diseases, corresponding to the use made of it by the Menomini. Eclectics claim that it will prevent abortion, causing uterine contractions when uterine inertia is present.


Mandrake (Podophyllum peltatum L.), "mskt'mn utci'pa."  This is not a medicine for the Menomini, but his substitute for paris green. The whole plant is boiled and the resulting liquid is sprinkled on the potato plants to kill potato bugs. The Menomini claim that it kills the eggs of the potato bugs in the ground, as well as the bugs. Podophyllum is official with the white man. It is the slowest acting purge in the pharmacopoeia, requiring ten to twenty-four hours to produce its effect. The root extract excites the flow of the bile. Summer diarrhea of children often responds to this drug, where none other is of avail.




Hoary Alder (Alnus incana (L.) Moench.), "Watp" [bitter]. The bitter inner bark of this alder is used for poultices to reduce swellings. For more power from the alder, the Menomini employ the root bark, which is termed "Watp tit'pi" meaning "sharp." When the mucus is too loose in a, cold, then it will be congested somewhat by drinking an infusion of the root bark. This infusion may also be used as a wash for sores, being astringent and healing. The Menomini use it as a wash to cure saddle gall in horses. The leaves and bark of all alders possess astringent properties, which the white man has held valuable in the treatment of diarrhea and haematuria. The liquid has been used as a mouth wash or gargle in the treatment of stomatitis and pharyngitis. When injected into the vagina, it is said to cure leucorrhoea. 


Smooth Alder (Alnus rugosa (DuRoi) Spreng.), "Watp" [bitter]. The

inner bark is made into an infusion which is used as an alterative. 


Dwarf Birch (Betula pumila glandulifera Regel.). No medicinal use known to the Menomini.


Blue Beech (Carpinus caroliniana Walt.). No medicinal use known to the Menomini. The bark of the blue beech is known by the white man to yield a yellow dyestuff, and it may have been so known to the Menomini in aboriginal times. The bark tea is said to be tonic, astringent and antiperiodic. It has been employed by the white man for loss of appetite, diarrhea and intermittent fever.


Hazelnut (Corylus americana Walt.), "kpowix'si pakane'sa" [binding little nut].  The inner bark of the hazel bush is used with other herbs as a binder to cement the virtues of all together. Eclectics have used the prickles on the burs of the husk as a remedy to expel worms.




Bluebell (Campanula rotundifolia L.). No medicinal use known to the Menomini.




Bush Honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera Mill.), "wasau'wus kwu'kamk." The root of this plant is credited with being a cure for senility. It is also a mild diurient. In both cases a tea is brewed from the root. Eclectics among the white men have used the fruit for its emetic and cathartic properties. This plant is valued by them as a diuretic and as a means to relieve itching.


Twin Flower (Linnaea borealis americana (Forbes), Rehder.). The writer was informed that some of the Menomini knew the use of this plant, but was unable to find any of them.


American Fly Honeysuckle (Lonicera canadensis Marsh.), "mtc wasau'wo kw'kamk" [big yellowish liquid bush]. The bark of this bush is used in the treatment of urinary diseases. It is used in combination with other plants to cure gonorrhea. All of the local species of Lonicera have been used by the white man as medicine, though only as non-official drugs. Many of them have more than a local repute as emetic and cathartic drugs. 


Glaucous Honeysuckle (Lonicera dioica L.). No medicinal use was assigned to this plant by the Menomini.


Common Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis L.), "papaskitc'ksi knax'tk." Strangely enough, the Menomini name for this shrub is the same as for the red-berried elder, but the use is quite different. The dried flowers of the common elderberry are made into a tea which is used as a febrifuge. Elder flowers have some local repute as a medicine among the white men and in infusion are employed on sores, blisters, hemorrhoids, etc. Young shoots of elderberry have been gathered for their inner bark which is diuretic and purgative in large amounts. It has also been used in keeping away the flies and insects which seem to find the odor highly objectionable. The root of elder is extremely poisonous when taken internally.


Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemosa L.), "papaskitc'ksi knx'tk." It is the common supposition of the white man that the berries of this elder are poisonous. The Menomini recognizes that it is a very powerful medicine and only to be used when the instructions for use are very carefully followed, and when other remedies for the same complaint are of no avail. Four joints of the trunk are chosen, the diameter of a man's finger, say three-quarters of an inch. These sticks are of a measured length, from the point of the ulna to the point of the humerus. If these sticks are now peeled downward, the resulting inner bark and rind are steeped and boiled, then thrown away. The liquid is. drunk and saves the life of one threatened with serious constipation. This remedy is only used in extreme cases, for there are many other remedies for constipation and this is a dangerous one unless needed, when it becomes a drastic purgative. If these same sticks were peeled upwards and the tea drunk, then it would have acted as a powerful emetic. There is probably no doubt of its emetic and purgative properties, but the mechanical difference in preparation is surely pure superstition.


Maple-leaved Viburnum (Viburnum acerifolium L.), "Ape'sntu mkise'sk" [black beads hanging (on the tree)].  The inner bark of this bush yields a tea which is drunk for cramps or colic.


High-bush Cranberry (Viburnum opulus americanus (Mill.) Ait.).  This is the cramp bark of the pharmacist, but is not known to be used medicinally by the Menomini.




Night-flowering Catchfly (Silene noctiflora L.). The Indian name for this was not obtainable, but the interpreter knew that it was used for medicine. He did not, however, know its use or efficacy.




Lambs' Quarters (Chenopodium album L.). This plant might be supposed to be medicinal since it has been used by eclectic practitioners. It is not known to be used by the Menomini except as greens in the spring.




Yarrow (Achillea millefolium L.), "Onawon'koso" [squirrel tail].  The Menomini name given by my informant was somewhat in question as it really belongs to another plant with an entirely different use. This plant is used in the treatment of fevers, a hot tea being steeped from the leaves. The Menomini also used the fresh tops to rub eczema sores to cure them. The leaves were used as a poultice for the rash of children. Although this is one of the most ancient of the white man's drugs, it is seldom employed by him now. However, some of it is still to be found on the market. It was employed for the aromatic and bitter principles it contained. It was used as an emmenagogue and for the various ailments of the reproductive organs. It is sometimes used now to cure diseased conditions of the mucous membrane of the entire gastrointestinal tract.


Fennel (Anthemis cotula L.). This plant was not used, hence had no Menomini name. Under the name of chamomile it has been used by the white man for its stimulant and antispasmodic properties. It is of use in summer diarrhea of children and in intermittent fevers. It has also been employed as an emmenagogue. Hot fomentations of the flowers with water and vinegar have been used with success as stimulants to sluggish ulcers, and for the relief of deep-seated pain such as earache and rheumatism.


Lesser Cat's Foot (Antennaria neodioica Greene). This plant had no Menomini name nor was it used.


Biennial Wormwood (Artemisia biennis Willd.). This plant had no Menomini name nor was it used.


Canada Wormwood (Artemisia canadensis Mx.), "Onawenxkoso" [squirrel's tail]. This is the true herb known by this Menomini name and is a very important leaf medicine. It is used in combination with angelica root for suppressed menstruation. When the patient has a cold or the menstrual flow is stopped for any reason, tea of these two make it easy again. Artemisia has been used by the white man as a household remedy in ailments of the digestive and genital tracts. It is an excitant to the circulation and an irritant to the mucous membrane.


Lowrie's Aster (Aster lowrieanus Porter). Not used.


Ox-eye Daisy (Chrysanthemum leucanthemum L.). The Menomini name was not known to my informant, but he knew that the plant was used by his people for fevers. This has been used by the white man for its volatile oil. The herbage is pleasantly aromatic and slightly bitter. It has been used as a diuretic, antispasmodic and mucous membrane tonic. Large doses are said to have an emetic effect.


Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron annuus (L.) Pers.). Not used by the Menomini. Erigeron was used by the white man for a diaphoretic and expectorant. Its common use, in country districts, is as an intestinal astringent in diarrhea.


Robin's Plantain (Erigeron pulchellus Mx.). Not used.


Daisy Fleabane (Erigeron ramosus (Walt.) BSP.). This plant is used by the Menomini but the exact name and use were unknown to my informant.


Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum L.).  This plant is used by the Menomini to brew a tea which is used to dispel a fever. The Menomini name for this plant was not known to my informant. He thought that its use was a later one acquired from the white man. Eupatorium is nowhere official in white man's medicines, but eclectics use it largely and it is a time-honored home remedy. It is stimulant in small doses, and laxative in large ones. In warm infusions, it is an emetic and diaphoretic. It is used for the purpose of aborting colds, bronchitis, sore throat, and such acute inflammations.


Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium purpureum L.), "pii'sanikiki" [finehaired roots]. This is one of a large group of different plants known by the same Menomini name, but not all are for the same use. Most of them are used in diseases of the genitourinary canal. The white man has used the roots of Joe-pye weed for its astringent and diuretic properties.


Mouse-ear Everlasting (Gnaphalium polycephalum Mx.), "n'skn" [a reviver]. The leaves of this plant furnish a very important sorcerer's medicine. It is used separately or with "nm wi'nin" or gall from the beaver's body, to make a smudge as a reviver. When one has fainted this is used to bring him back to consciousness again, the smoke being blown into his nostrils. Then again, when one of the family has died, his spirit or ghost is supposed to come back to trouble the living. Bad luck and nightmares will result to the family from the troublesome ghost. This smudge discourages and displeases the ghost which, after a fumigation of the premises with this smudge, leaves and never returns. Burning of these herbs gives off a peculiar characteristic odor, reminding one of the smell of elm bark, dried medick flowers, and coltsfoot herb. Among the white men, it has been used as a soothing expectorant, but because of its bitter qualities it is also used for its stomachic principles.


Sneezeweed (Helenium autumnale L.), "aiatci'a ni'tckn," [sneezing spasmodically].  The flower heads, when nearly mature, are dried and kept in a loose bunch which is hung from the rafters of the house. When wanted for use it is pulverized and used as a snuff up the nostrils. It makes one sneeze violently several times, and is used to loosen up a cold in the head. It can be used alone or mixed with other medicines. The dose is experimental, starting small and increasing in size as needed. It is also mixed with other foliage to brew an infusion which is drunk for its alterative effects. The white man recognizes the property of Helenium that causes sneezing, in the volatile oil of the florets, and sometimes uses it for that purpose. The plant is also known as a cattle poison.


Wild Lettuce (Lactuca canadensis L.). Although no Menomini had a name for this plant, my informant said that it is used to cure poison ivy. The milky juice of the fresh plant is rubbed on the eruptions.


Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta L.). Not used. The leaves of this Rudbeckia have been used by eclectics as a stimulating diuretic, in the form of a decoction freely administered.


Sweet Coltsfoot (Petasites Palmatus (Ait.) Gray), "tit'pitcipa" [puckering and drawing]. The white roots of this plant are boiled to provide a liquid which cures the itch. Sweet Coltsfoot is not official, but has been largely used in domestic practice by the white man. The roots are demulcent and slightly tonic. It is used in bronchitis and pulmonary troubles. The pulverized root is smoked in Germany and Sweden to cure a cough.


Golden Ragwort (Senecio aureus L.). Not used. Senecio contains much tannin and there are records of its use as an astringent by other peoples than the Menomini.


Zigzag Goldenrod (Solidago latifolia L.). Not used.


Late Goldenrod (Solidago serotina Ait.), "wasa'wa na'okk." This plant was used in medicine by the Menomini, but my informant did not know how. In earlier times, under the name of Blue Mountain tea, Solidago was given a rather important place in materia medica. The white man used it as a mild carminative, antispasmodic and an intestinal astringent.




Hedge Bindweed (Convolvulus sepium L.). Not used. This plant has been known to the white man as a drastic purgative.




Silky Cornel (Cornus amomum Mill.), "kinnikinik" and "mi'makwukwa."  Due to a confusion in the mind of my informant, this species was shown me three times, once near the Wolf river, where it was called "Kinnikinnik" and twice in the woods, where it was called "Mi'makwukwa." In the first instance it was accredited with being the bark gathered as an Indian tobacco, the method of gathering, preparing and using being described in Dr. Barrett's treatise on the "Dream Dance." In the latter case it is considered the source of a valuable medicine for the treatment of diarrhea. In this case an infusion of the bark is used in a rectal injection. The bark of this species has been locally used by the white man for its bitter and astringent properties. It was formerly employed as an antiperiodic, and in large doses it is an emetic. The next species was similarly used by the white man.


Alternate-leaved Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia L. f.), "kinnikinik,"  "muski'ki wax'tk," and "pise'waxtk."  This species was also doubtless confused in the mind of my informant. It is true that there are several species of Cornus on the reservation, Cornus amomum, C. stolonifera, C. alternifolia, C. circinata, and C. paniculata as  shown by herbarium specimens gathered, but all of four to which he gave Menomini names turned out to be C. alternifolia. Doubtless it is one of the sorts used for Indian tobacco under the name "kinnikinik." Under the name "muski'ki wa'xtk" the bark of this shrub is gathered to yield liquid pile remedy. The use of the various pile remedies was interestingly given by my informant. The tepid liquid is placed in a special rectal syringe. This is made from the bladder of the deer or bear, into the neck of which is bound a two-inch hollow duck bone. This is tied on with sinew. By compressing the bladder, the liquid is forced into the rectum where it is retained for intervals of half an hour for each application. Under the name "pise'waxtik" [lynx tree] it is used for diarrhea. It is used in the special rectal syringe just described. The bark is also pulverized and put upon a bandage, where a wet application is bound against the anus. The strength of the medicine in this case is supposed to travel upward.  This bark is the species used by a Menomini at Neopit to cure cancer. He had been told by Dr. White that his facial cancer was incurable save by surgical excision. His wife made a poultice of this bark with something else and cured the cancer. But the Menomini would not divulge the exact formula or method of use of this medicine.




Hoary Mustard (Berteroa incana (L.) DC.). This adventive plant was not used by the Menomini, but is giving considerable trouble as a noxious spreading weed on their school campus.


Shepherd's Purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris (L.) Medic.), "wisakipko'sa" [a tiny bitter leaf]. This plant seems to hold equal favor with the Virginia Peppergrass as a cure for poison ivy. The plant is steeped, and the water when tepid is used as a wash. Next to mustard, horseradish and scurvygrass, this is the most important drug of the family according to white man's uses, on account of a peculiar acid. Among the eclectics it is used as a diuretic, emmenagogue, and antirheumatic, and is an excellent healing agent for unhealthy sores.


Wormseed Mustard (Erysimum cheiranthoides L.). Not used.


Small Erysimum (Erysimum parviflorum Nutt.). Not used. 


Virginia Peppergrass (Lepidium virginicum L.), "wisakipko'sa" [a tiny bitter leaf ]. This was the first plant to be pointed out to me as a cure for poison ivy. It is steeped in water to compound a liquid wash. My informant said that the freshly bruised plant is just as efficacious. The white man uses Lepidium infusions as a cure for scurvy. It has also been used among eclectics as a substitute for Capsella.  Three Sisymbriums were found, of which one was suspected of Menomini importance, the Tall Sisymbrium (S. altissimum L.). The others were S. officinale leiocarpum DC., and S. thalianum (L.) G. Gay.




Squash (Cucurbita pepo var.). The seeds of squash and pumpkin are gathered by the Menomini and pulverized in a mortar. This powder is taken in water to facilitate the passage of urine. 


Balsam Apple (Echinocystis lobata (Mx.) T. & G.), "mtc mama'tctau" [big Indian or Man-in-the-ground]. This

root is pulverized and used as a poultice for headache. A decoction is used as a bitter tonic drink, and it is also used in love potions. It is described as being the greatest of all medicines and useful in any combination. The hard fleshy root of Man-in-the-ground has been used by eclectic practitioners as an active purgative.



Out of the twenty sedges collected and investigated, but one was used by the Menomini for medicine. Sedges collected were: Carices,Carex bromoides Schkr.; C. conoidea Schkr.; C. cristata Schwein.; C. gracillima Schwein.; C. hystericina Muhl.; C. intumescens Rudge; C. laxiflora Lam. leptonervia Fernald; C. lupulina Muhl.; C. pennsylvanica Lam.; C. plantaginea, Lam.; C. rosea Schkr.; C. rostrata Stokes; C. stipata Muhl.; and C. stricta Lam. Dulichium arundinaceum (L.) Britton. Eleocharis palustris (L.) R. & S. Eriophorum callitrix Cham. Eriophorum viridi-carinatum (Engel.) Fernald. Scirpus atrovirens Muhl. Scirpus validus Vahl.


Plantain-leaved Sedge (Carex plantaginea Lam.), "knu'bkws" [snakemedicine].  This seems to be considered one of the snake charms along with blue-eyed grass. Their particular virtue seems to be that the wearer will not be molested by rattlesnakes, and that the house so guarded will not be troubled with snakes. Then, too, it features in the cure of snakebite through the agency of the medicine man. The medicine man chews the root and sprays the spittle on the wound of the patient. 




Wild Yam-root (Dioscorea villosa L.). This plant is probably used by the Menomini according to my informant, though the Indian use and name were not known to him. In Wisconsin, a tincture of the roots has been used as an expectorant and diaphoretic, and a decoction of the root is said to be beneficial in bilious colic.




Scouring Rush (Equisetum hyemale L.), "kise'paskn" [everlasting vine]. The water in which these are boiled is used to cure kidney troubles, and is drunk by the women after childbirth, to clear up the system. Equisetum has been used in South America as an intestinal and urethral astringent.


Wood Rush (Equisetum sylvaticum L.), "skako'sa hasinu'kwa." [evergreen]. The tea from these stems is used to cure dropsy. Pulverized it is used as a poultice to stop the flow of blood.




Andromeda (Andromeda glaucophylla Link.). Not used.


Bearberry (Arctostaphyllos uva-ursa (L.) Spreng.), "kk'kptkosa" [evergreen]. The diminutive "osa" relates this to Chimaphila umbellata. It is used as a seasoner, to make certain female remedies taste good. It is accounted fully as good for this purpose as Chimaphila. The dried leaves of Uva-ursa, which the Menomini use, is likewise a valued remedy of the white man, being official in nearly all pharmacopoeias. It combines diuretic, tonic and astringent properties. It is especially useful in urinary diseases where inflammation exists. It has been used in chronic bronchitis, diarrhoea, leucorrhoea, amenorrhoea, and uterine hemorrhages.


Leatherleaf (Kalmia calyculata (L.) Moench.). This is not used so far as is known by the Menomini.


Prince's Pine (Chimaphila umbellata (L.) Nutt.), "kkk'pk" [evergreen]. This is a valuable remedy in female troubles. It is used as a seasoner to make the medicine taste good. The constituents, properties and uses of Chimaphila are nearly identical with Uva-ursa, and it is so used by the eclectics among the white men.


Wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens L.), "win'nom'nn" [real or true berry]. The leaf of this plant with the berry is steeped to make a tea, which is drunk for rheumatism. This corresponds closely with the white man's use, since the wintergreen was at one time the source of methyl salicylate. Approximately the same active principle is incorporated into the trade product, aspirin. This was formerly a very important medicine of the white man, but it is no longer the commercial source of salicylic acid. Like many other volatile oils, it was used as an antiseptic, analgesic, flavoring agent -and carminative. Added to liniments it was used in treating muscular rheumatism, sciatica, and similar complaints. Overdoses of the pure oil on the skin produce drowsiness, congestion and delirium.


One-flowered Wintergreen (Moneses uniflora (L.) Gray). So far as is known this is not used by the Menomini. Three species of Pyrola were also unknown to my informant so far as Menomini medicinal use was concerned. These were Pyrola americana Sm.; P. elliptica Nutt.; and P. secunda L.




Beech (Fagus grandifolia Ehrh.), "sw'mia" [beech tree]. "Sw'mia on'xki," the root and bark names. The inner bark of the trunk and of the root are both valuable to the Menomini. They are used in several compounds, but never by themselves alone. The bark of beech is quite rich in tannin and infusions have been used by the white man for diarrhoea.


White Oak (Quercus alba L.), "oskextmi'."  The inner bark of the white oak is also used in compounds, possibly because of its bitter tannic acid content. White oak bark is official with the white man, and has been used chiefly because of the contained tannic acid. Infusions with water have been used as vaginal irrigants in leucorrhoea, simple or gonorrhoeal vaginitis, as astringent rectal injections for piles, and as a gargle for chronic inflammations of the tonsils and pharynx.


Black Oak (Quercus velutina Lam.), "anepakakwa'tk" or "anepakkwa'tk." The bark of the black oak is crushed and boiled to furnish a watery infusion to cure sore eyes.




Spurred Gentian (Halenia deflexa (Sm.) Griseb.). Not used.


Buckbean (Menyanthes trifoliata L.). This was given a name, though only one shared in common with other water plants, "os'shin." The Buckbean is a medicinal plant of the Menomini, though my informant did not know its use. The white man uses it as a tonic, purgative and emmenagogue. In large doses it acts as an emetic and vermifuge.




Wild Crane's-Bill (Geranium maculatum L.), "mtci't'tak sp'onkn"  [the devil's needle].  This is so-called from the appearance of the fruit pods. The Menomini claim that it has binding qualities in its roots, hence employ it in the treatment of flux and like troubles. The species, while not official, is the one recommended by eclectics and used by them where an astringent is needed. It is especially useful for infants and people who have a delicate stomach, because it is not irritating. It is valuable in serious diarrhoeas. It has also been used by the white man for injections both rectal and vaginal to strengthen weak muscles.



Three grasses were collected, none of which were known to be of use in medicine by the Menomini. They were Glyceria canadensis (Mx.) Trin.; Hystrix patula Moench.; and Phleum pratense L.




Spiked Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum spicatum L.), "os'shn" [waterweed]. This is not a differentiating name and, so far as is known, but few of this class of plants are employed by the Menomini in medicines.




Witch-hazel (Hamamelis virginiana L.), "pisewa'xtk" and "pis'kiws."  A decoction of witch hazel was used by the participants in games, to rub on their legs to keep them limbered up. The twigs of witch hazel are steeped and the decoction is used to cure a lame back. This is the use that the Menomini have found out from the Stockbridge Indians, their neighbors. The seeds were also used as the sacred bead in the medicine ceremony. These black seeds were called "m'gs."




Water weed (Elodea canadensis L.). Not used.




Virginia Waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum L.), "tit'pitci'pa" [puckering root]. The root of this plant is known as a remedy for flux, because of its astringent properties.




Great St. John's Wort (Hypericum ascyron L.), "met'komn p'kwa" [taste of the woodenberry (or acorn) ]. This is a very important Menomini remedy. The root is used in connection with others for weak lungs, and if taken in the first stages of consumption, it is thought by the Menomini to be a specific. In compound with blackcap raspberry root, it is used for kidney troubles. The leaves of this species have been formerly employed by the white man as a laxative, alterative and vulnerary. It has also been used by him internally as an emmenagogue, diuretic and stimulating expectorant. The fresh drug is given internally in the treatment of chronic catarrhal conditions of the respiratory, intestinal and urinary apparatuses, thus paralleling the Menomini uses.


Dwarf St. John's Wort (Hypericum mutilum L.). Not used.




Blue Flag (Iris versicolor L.) This is not used by the Menomini. The irisin or iridin of the eclectics among the white men is the powdered dried root, which they believe is second only to podophyllum as an hepatic stimulant. It is used as an emetic, diuretic and cathartic.


Blue-eyed Grass (Sisyrinchium albidium Raf.), "knu'bkws" [snake medicine]. This species is not differentiated by the Menomini from the Prairie Blue-eyed Grass (S. campestre Beckm.), both of which are known by the same name. It is used in the house to ward off snakes, or carried in the pocket for the same purpose. It has another peculiar use as a horse medicine. The roots are mixed with the oats, when fed, to make the animal sleek and vicious. This renders the pony bite poisonous, but it will not bite its owner. The pony will bite out a chunk of flesh and the victim will die, unless the medicine man uses some of the same herb on the bite to cure it.




Butternut (Juglans cinerea L.) "pka'nawe" [nut tree]. The sap of the butternut is used by the Menomini in the same manner as maple sap, but with the difference that the syrup and sugar from the butternut are a standard Indian physic. This use recalls the practice of the native whites of Pickens Co., W. Va., in 1908, where butternut molasses was also used for a similar purpose. The root bark of butternut is the drug of the white man, which is employed as a mild cathartic and slight hepatic stimulant. The remedy has been recommended in the treatment of acute malarial affections, and is said to be efficacious in chronic constipation and dysentery.



Neither of the two Junci were used for medicines by the Menomini. They were Juncus effusus L. and Luzula saltuensis Fernald.




Motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca L.). Not used.


Cut-leaved Water Hoarhound (Lycopus americanus Muhl.). Not used.


Wild Mint (Mentha arvensis canadensis (L.) Briquet), "nmi'wsko'sa" [little sturgeon root]. This is one of the three plants taken together to form a cure for pneumonia. The others used with it are Nepeta cataria L. and Mentha piperita L. The compound is drunk in the form of a tea and is also used as a poultice on the chest.


Peppermint (Mentha piperita L.), "dakixkomk" [cold water, as it tastes]. This is one of the ingredients in the foregoing compound and the Menomini name is ably descriptive of its leaves.  Peppermint is an official drug of the white men dependent on its volatile oil for its carminative, stimulant and anodyne effects. An infusion is given for the relief of nausea and flatulent colic. The bruised fresh leaves are applied for the relief of local pains.


Wild Bergamot (Monarda fistulosa L.), "oia'tcia nsikun" [sneezing spasmodically].  This is a universal remedy of the Menomini for catarrh. The leaves and inflorescence are the parts employed, and are used alone or in combination with others to form a tea. Monarda is an aromatic stimulant, diaphoretic and carminative, occasionally employed by the white man for the relief of flatulent colic, nausea and vomiting, and diarrhoea resulting from cold.


Catnep (Nepeta cataria L.), "ka'saka muskl'ki" [cat medicine]. This is one of the three plants used in the cure of pneumonia, the others being wild mint and peppermint as described above. By the white man, catnep is employed in infusions of the leaves as an emmenagogue and antispasmodic. It has been used as a carminative in the flatulent colic of infants, and is supposed to be useful in allaying hysteria.


Ground Ivy (Nepeta hederacea (L.) Trevisan). Not used.


Heal-all (Prunella vulgaris L.). Not used.


Hooded Scullcap (Scutellaria galericulata L.). Not used.


Rough Hedge Nettle (Stachys tenuifolia Willd. aspera (Mx.) Fernald). Not used.




Large-flowered Tick Trefoil (Desmodium grandiflorum (Walt.) DC.). Not used.


Creamy Vetch (Lathyrus ochroleucus Hook.). Not used.


Marsh Vetchling (Lathyrus palustris L.). Not used.


Veiny Pea (Lathyrus venosus Muhl.). Not used.


Lupine (Lupinus perennis L.), "pskigokasi'ws" [horse-medicine] or literally [animal with the -undivided hoof medicine]. This is used to fatten the horse and to make him spirited and full of fire. This plant is also used by the white man for fodder and is found to be highly nutritious and wholesome if not fed in too large amounts, and fed before the seeds have matured. The Menomini also use the plant to control horses, the user rubbing it on his own hands or person.


Black Locust (Robinia pseudacacia L.), "kawa'xtk" or "kaiawako'sk t'tk." The bark of the trunk is used as a seasoner to give flavor to other wild medicines. That this is a dangerous practice is held by white physicians who cite records of poisoning by the inner bark. It will also agglutinate and clot the blood corpuscles of certain animals and possesses, for the human body, strong emetic and purgative properties.


American Vetch (Vicia americana Muhl.). Not used.




Common Bladderwort (Utricularia vulgaris L. americana Gray). Not used.




Northern Clintonia (Clintonia borealis (Ait.) Raf.). My informant said this is the plant that the dog uses to poison his teeth, so that he can kill his prey. Should the dog bite a human, then it would be necessary to take the same herb and put it on the bite to draw out the poison.


Turk's Cap Lily (Lilium superbum L.). Not used.


Canada Mayflower (Maianthemum canadense Desf.). Not used.


Solomon's Seal (Polygonatum biflorum (Walt.) Ell.), "n'sikn" [a reviver].  The root is dried and pulverized. Then it is mixed with cedar balm (the twigs and leaves) and burned as a smudge to revive one who has become unconscious. If they suppose the patient is about to die, then the smoke of this smudge is blown into his nostrils to bring him back to life. Solomon's Seal has been employed by eclectics among the white men as a substitute for digitalis, though it is much less powerful. Since it augments the flow of urine, it was formerly used in the treatment of dropsy. It is said to increase the appetite and digestion.


False Spikenard (Smilacina racemosa (L.) Desf.), "paki'sikn" [a smudge]. The root of this is ground up and soaked to furnish a liquid that is put on a hot stove. The fumes that arise are inhaled by the person who is suffering from catarrh.


Carrion Flower (Smilax herbacea L. pulverulenta (Mx.) Gray). Not used.


Nodding Trillium (Trillium cernuum L.). Not used.


Large-flowered Trillium (Trillium grandiflorum (Mx.) Salisb.), "wai'pski wasakwona'wt" [little white flower in the spring] or "w'se wasakwona'wt," so called because the bear, "w'se," is fond of the root. This root was used to reduce the swelling of the eye. The raw root is grated and applied as a poultice to the eye. For cramps, it is grated, steeped and drunk as a tea. For irregularity of the menses, this root is grated and put into water to simmer, and then drunk. There is a further use. It is drunk to remove the defilement entailed by intercourse with one during the menstrual period. Under the name birthroot, trillium was formerly used by the white man as a parturient, a local stimulant and a stimulating expectorant.


Bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora Sm.). The Menomini name for this is unknown to my informant, who, however, knew that it was used by the Menomini to reduce swellings.




Pale Spiked Lobelia (Lobelia spicata Lam.). Not used.




Ground Pine (Lycopodium complanatum L.). Not used.


Shining Club Moss (Lycopodium lucidulum Mx.). Not used. Lycopodium spores are used by the white man as a surgical and antiseptic healing dusting powder.




Sweet Fern (Myrica asplenifolia L.), "kipahime'nn" [a coverer and berry]. The sweet fern is used as a seasoner as well as a potent medicine for use in childbirth. A tea is made from it. Sweet fern and mullen leaf together are sometimes used by Menomini medicine women to kill some one they hate. The two leaves are pulverized and peppered upon the medicine that they give to the sick person. Sweet fern is also used to keep berries from spoiling. They gather leaves and line the bottom of the pail with them, covering the berries with the same leaf. The white man uses the sweet fern as a stimulant and astringent; sometimes using it to relieve colic and check diarrhoea and as a fomentation in rheumatism.



Three Potamogetons were collected, none of which were known to my informant other than as water-weeds, "os'shn." They are: Potamogeton alpinus Balbis.; P. hillii Morong.; and P. natans L.




Water Shield (Brasenia schreberi Gmel.). Not used. The rhizomes of Brasenia have been used by white men in the treatment of phthisis, also in dysentery.


Sweet White Water Lily (Castalia odorata (Ait.) Woodville & Wood). Not used. The roots of this species have been used by white men in the treatment of diarrhoea, dysentery and leucorrhoea.


Tuberous Water Lily (Castalia tuberosa (Paine) Greene). Not used.


Yellow Water Lily (Nymphaea advena Ait.), "woka'tamo" [having legs to stand]. This plant is described by the Menomini as belonging to the "Underneath Spirits" and is accounted a great medicine. The large, fibrous, monocotyledonous, underwater stems are pulled and the so called root is dried and then powdered. This powder is used for poultices to heal cuts and swellings. The Menomini say this plant makes the fogs that hover over the lakes. The uses of the yellow water lily among white men correspond to the uses of the sweet white water lily.




Black Ash (Fraxinus nigra Marsh.), "anepa'kkwtk." The inner bark of the trunk is a valuable Menomini medicine as a seasoner for other medicines. Ancient superstition of the white race accredited the ash with being a charm against serpents. Scotch mothers fed infants on the sap to make the baby immune to snakes and even in our time ash cradle rockers were supposed to shield the baby from snakes. The wine of white ash bark is a remedy of the white man used as a bitter tonic and astringent, and said to be valuable as an antiperiodic. It was also formerly used in the treatment of intermittent fevers.




Lesser Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea alpina L.). Not used.


Enchanter's Nightshade (Circaea lutetiana L.). Not used. 


Great Willow Herb (Epilobium angustifolium L.). The root of this plant is used to make a wash for swellings. The Menomini name was not known to my informant. With the white men it is a demulcent, tonic and astringent. It has been used for its tonic effect on mucous surfaces and its value in intestinal disorders.


Dwarf Evening Primrose (Oenothera pumila L.). Not used.




Oblique Grape Fern (Botrichium obliquum Muhl.). Not used.


Virginia Grape Fern (Botrichium virginianum (L.) Sw.). Not used.




Arethusa (Arethusa bulbosa L.). Not used.


Grass Pink (Calopogon pulchellus (Sw.) R. Br.). Not used.


Stemless Ladies' Slipper (Cypripedium acaule Ait.). The root of this species is used in male disorders by the Menomini, but my informant did not know the Menomini name.


Showy Ladies' Slipper (Cypripedium hirsutum Mill.). Not used by the Menomini. This species has been employed by the white man as an antispasmodic, and is supposed to produce a slight stimulant effect on the nervous system. It is a feeble remedy.


Yellow Ladies' Slipper (Cypripedium parviflorum Salisb. pubescens (Willd.)

Knight), "miniuvos't" [owl's foot].  This is said to be used by the Menomini in female disorders. It has also been found in sacred bundles where its purpose is to induce dreams of the supernatural. The white man uses it as a gentle tonic for the nerves, a stimulant and antispasmodic, similar to Valerian, only less powerful. Several Habenarias were collected, none of which were known to my informant. They were: H. bracteata (Willd.) R. Br.; H. flava (L.) Gray; H. hyperborea (L.) R. Br.; H. orbiculata (Pursh.) Torr.; and H. psycodes (L.) Sw.




Flowering Fern (Osmunda regalis L.), "nonakona'ws" [milk]. This plant furnishes a Menomini medicine from its roots, but my informant did not know the nature of its cures.




Wood Sorrel (Oxalis acetosella L.). Not used.




Bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis L.), "wapitcika'wi" [blood root] and "ona'mn utci'pa" [vermillion root]. This root is often added to medicines to strengthen their effect. Sanguinaria is a drug of the U. S. pharmacopoeia only, and is used for many effects. In small doses it stimulates gastric secretions. It has been used as an expectorant, a sternutatory and an emetic.




Lopseed (Phryma leptostachya L.). Not used.




Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.), "pikewa'xtk." This is the name of the balsam tree and the medicine is known as "okikaxtk." There are two remedies from thi's tree. The liquid balsam which is pressed from the trunk blisters is used for colds and pulmonary troubles. The inner bark is also gathered, observing the same rules as in the gathering of white pine bark, with, of course, the particular song and a deposit of tobacco in the ground that accompanies all medicines. It is a very valuable remedy with the Menomini. The inner bark is steeped and the tea is drunk for pains in the chest. It is also used fresh for poultices. It is further used as a seasoner for other medicines. Inquiry as to whether the Menomini gathered the bark with the oil vesicles intact and used it as the Hudson Bay Indians do under the name of "wayakosh" for wounds, developed that they did not know this use. Yet the same effect would probably be produced by the inner bark used as poultices, which the Menomini did.


Tamarack (Larix larcina (DuRoi) Koch), "munipi'anaw" [it stands in the swamp].  The bark from both the trunk and the root is described by the Menomini as being pitchy and as equaling one man as a medicine alone, without help from any other. It is used as a poultice when fresh and is steeped to make a tea. This tea drives out inflammation and generates heat. The water is also given to horses to better their condition from distemper. The tincture or extract of the inner bark of Larix is employed by the white men in chronic bronchitis with profuse expectoration, in chronic inflammation of the urinary passages and in certain hemorrhage affections.


White Spruce (Picea canadensis (Mill.) B. S. P.), "pikewa'xtk kaienana'kest" [gum tree and which goes up to a peak].  The inner bark is used to make a tea which is described as good for inward troubles for either man or woman. The half cooked, beaten, inner bark is used as a poultice placed on a rag and applied to a wound, cut or swelling.


Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana Lamb), "okika'xtk" [stump or stick standing up]. Every part of this tree is used as a medicine. Even the cone is boiled to make a sort of medicine. The uses were not divulged.


Norway Pine (Pinus resinosa Ait.). Not used.


White Pine (Pinus strobus L.), "skako'sa wenak'x."  The inner bark of the young tree, about two feet above the ground, is used. The trunk must be smooth and free from cracks. The first incision is made vertically facing the east, then the outer bark is pealed and the inner bark removed. While this is being done, the proper song for gathering this medicine is sung and tobacco is buried about the roots of the sapling. This bark may be steeped to form a drink to cure pain in the chest, or it may be pounded to shreds and used as a poultice for wounds, sores or ulcers. It is one of the most important Menomini medicines. White pine bark is the basis of the white man's cough syrup, though it possesses little value as an expectorant.


Arbor-vitae (Thuja occidentalis L.), "kesa'sata'uk" and "kesa'wuna'ukai" [cedar bark or skin].  Besides being used in the sudatory, the inner bark of the cedar is also used. It is gathered, dried and steeped to make a tea to treat suppressed menstruation. When the patient contracts a cold and there is a cessation of menses, then the tea is drunk to make the flow easy again. The leaves are used in the smudge for reviving lost consciousness. The inner bark is also a seasoner for other medicines.


Hemlock (Tsuga canadensis Marsh.), "misku'kowa wuna'ukai" [a puckering to heal skin].  The inner bark is used to make a tea to heal pains in the abdomen. One quart of tea is drunk to cure a cold. The leaves are used in the sudatory, of which ground hemlock is the principal medicine. Another Menomini name for this tree is "miusaku'kowa."




Rugel's Plantain (Plantago rugelii Dcne.), "si'sakip'okena" [a wide leaf or a leaf that spreads].  The Menomini does not distinguish between species of Plantago and P. major is used the same as P. rugelii. The fresh leaf is heated and applied to swellings with the top of the leaf towards the flesh. In other ailments, the underside of the leaf may be placed next to the skin. The matter of the proper side of the leaf to use is carefully observed by the Menomini, which is probably superstition. The writer, in trying this remedy, reduced to normal a badly swollen and probably infected hand in one afternoon, by merely binding plantain leaves to the hand, which caused profuse perspiration. Plantain has been thought by the white man to possess curative powers in many diseases, although it is really a very feeble remedy. It is still used to some extent by eclectics in the treatment of inflammations of the skin, malignant ulcers, intermittent fevers, etc. The leaves are of some value in arresting hemorrhages, when applied to the bleeding surface.




Downy Phlox (Phlox pilosa L.). Not used.




Flowering Wintergreen (Polygala paucifolia Willd.). Not used


Racemed Milkwort (Polygala polygama. Walt.). Not used.



Only one species of this family is used, so far as was known to my informant. The Polygonums collected were: P. cilinode Mx.; P. hydropiper L.; P. pennsylvanicum L.; P. persicaria L. and P. sagitattum L. The Rumex species were: Rumex acetosella L. and Rumex crispus L.


Pennsylvania Persicaria (Polygonum pennsylvanicum L.), "wesak'pk." This is a bitter leaf which is dried by the Menomini for tea. When one has a hemorrhage of blood from the mouth, this is drunk to stop it. Mixed with other herbs, it is drunk by women after childbirth, and heals them internally.




Maidenhair Fern (Adiantum pedatum L.), "nonakona'ws apesa'kwost" [fern and black stem]. The blades, stem and root of this fern are all used in the treatment of female maladies. In syrup or infusion, the roots of this fern have been used by the white man in the treatment of chronic affections of the respiratory tract. It is also said to be of value for the relief of cough.


Ostrich Fern (Onoclea struthiopteris (L.) Hoffman), "nonakona'ws" [fern]. The leaf of this fern is used as a poultice. The root is steeped to make a drink to take when the urine is whitish.


Oak Fern (Phegopteris dryopteris (L.) Fee). Not used.


Brake (Pteris aquilina L.), "nonakona'ws" [milk or the breast of a woman]. The root of this fern is boiled to make a drink to relieve caked breast. A dog whisker is used to pierce a hole in the teat.




Pickerel Weed (Pontederia cordata L.). Not used.



So far as is known, none of the Primrose family is used for medicines among the Menomini. Species collected and inquired about were: Lysimachia quadrifolia L.; L. terrestris (L.) BSP.; L. thyrsiflora L.; Steiromena ciliatum (L.) Raf.; and Trientalis americana (Pers.) Pursh.




Red Baneberry (Actaea rubra (Ait.) Willd.). Not used. The rhizomes and roots of baneberry resemble Cimicifuga or Black Cohosh, in appearance, composition and properties and have been found beneficial by the white man for their effect on the circulation. It has also been used to relieve headache due to eye-strain.


Canada Anemone (Anemone canadensis L.). Not used.


Wood Anemone (Anemone quinquefolia L.). Not used. This anemone has often been used by the white man in place of Pulsatilla in the treatment of more diseases than any other drug listed. Internal doses cause inflammation of the stomach and intestines.


Virginia Anemone (Anemone virginiana L.), "wasai'imi'aws." The root of this is used to poultice and cure a boil.


Wild Columbine (Aquilegia canadensis L.). Not used.


Gold Thread (Coptis trifolia Salisb.), "osauwaki'nm" [yellow thread or golden thread]. The roots yield an astringent mouth wash for sore throat of babies, and it is much used for teething babies. This wash also cures cankers in the mouth. The white man agrees with the use of this root, which is official for the same purposes, and this may have been the original source of knowledge for the white man.


Liverleaf (Hepatica acutiloba DC.), "wkisi'kwa wasak'onant" [the flower that peeps out in the spring]. It is also called "piisa'nikiki wsakwonawt" [fine hairs] referring to the rootlets, and [its flower] . The roots of this plant are used with the roots of Maidenhair fern in various female maladies, especially to cure leucorrhoea.


White Water Crowfoot (Ranunculus aquatilis L. capillaceus DC.). Not used.


Bristly Crowfoot (Ranunculus pennsylvanicus L. f.). Not used.


Purple Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum Fisch. & Lall.). Not used.


Early Meadow Rue (Thalictrum dioicum L.). Not used.




New Jersey Tea (Ceanothus americanus L.), "kit'ki ma'nitu" [spotted and great spirit]. The roots of this shrub are used partly because they cross over each other in a tangled manner and partly because the inner wood is red. The tea from the roots is held as a cure-all for stomach troubles among the Menomini.




Wild Strawberry (Fragaria Virginiana Duchesne). Not used. 

None of the native Geums were known to be used. They were: Geum canadense jacq.; G. rivale L.; and Geum strictum Ait.


Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius (L.) Maxim.), "shipiawasha'ws p'kamk." The bark of this shrub yields a valuable drink for female maladies. It cleans out the system, and if the patient is barren, the drinking of this renders them again fertile, according to the Menomini.  Two cinquefoils were collected but neither of them was used. Potentilla canadensis L. and P. fruticosa L.


Black or Rum Cherry (Prunus serotina Ehrh.), "iw'skpi mna'xtik."  My informant took this to be choke cherry and said that it was sometimes eaten by the Indian to make him drunk, but that the berries were also made into a medicine. The white man uses the bitter principle of the bark as a stomachic and bitter tonic, useful in gastric and general debility. It has been employed as a circulatory sedative in hectic tuberculosis and in cardiac palpitation from nervous disorders.


Choke Cherry (Prunus Virginiana L.), "pan'xnowi mna'xtk," "pn"nawe mna'xtk" and "p'xnana we'mna'xtk."  Possibly the Menomini name for this tree is only one word, but in hearing it at different times, it was thought to be slightly different. "Pin'nawe" is the word for "puckering" and "mna'xtk" means "tree." The inner bark is pounded to make a poultice and M'npus, the culture hero, pointed it out as a medicine to heal a wound or gall on man or beast. The inner bark is also dried, then steeped in water, the tea being drunk for diarrhoea. When administered to children it is sweetened. In aboriginal times, it was also a kind of beverage or tea to drink with meals. The liquid made by boiling the dried berries is also used to cure diarrhoea.


Smooth Rose (Rosa blanda Ait.). Not used.


Pasture Rose (Rosa humilis Marsh.), "sipiti'mn" [to itch (like the piles)].  The Menomini believe that eating the rose hips of this species will cause a healthy person to get an itching like the piles.  The medicinal part is the skin of the fruit. This is eaten to cure stomach troubles.


Blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis Porter), "ona'kanaws otci'pa" [blackberry root]. An infusion of the steeped root is used to cure sore eyes, as an eye wash, and is also used as a poultice. The root bark is used by the white man as a tonic and astringent. Blackberry root is a favorite household remedy of the white man for its tonic and astringent properties. It is useful in the summer diarrhoea of children and adults.


Red Raspberry (Rubus idaeus L. aculeatissimus (C. A. Mey) Regel & Tiling), "mk'ntu onakonow'x" [red berry] and [raspberry]. The root of this species is used as a seasoner for other medicines. The white man uses the fruit to make a syrup, which is a refrigerant, mild laxative and dietetic.


Black Raspberry (Rubus occidentalis L.). The proper name of the Menomini for this species was not known to my informant, but he knew the root was used with Hypericum ascyron in curing consumption, when in its first stages.


Dwarf Raspberry (Rubus triflorus Richards). Not used.




Northern Bedstraw (Galium boreale L.). Not used. The plant of bedstraw has been used by the white man as a diuretic and for various skin diseases.


Fragrant Bedstraw (Galium triflorum Mx.), "Clivus." "Clivus" is not an Indian word, though it comes to the Menomini from the Stockbridge who live on the adjoining reservation. Some of the Menomini use an infusion of the herb to clear up kidney troubles.


Bluets (Houstonia longifolia Gaertn.). Not used. 


Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens L.), "wen'xnomn" [stinking berry]. The word for stinking in Menomini may refer alike to perfumes and stenches. The leaves of this plant are steeped to make a tea to cure insomnia. It is a minor drug of the white man, used for its bitter, astringent properties.




Three-leaved Hop Tree (Ptelea trifoliata L.), "wapu'niaka'kwost" [white bark]. This is a sacred medicine among the Menomini. The only specimen of it on the reservation grows in the yard of Frank Kkk about four miles north of Keshena. It was brought from Kansas by Kkk's ancestors years ago, and he says it has never fruited here, though it was in flower when seen. The white bark of the root is the part used, and a piece about the size of the index finger is the proper amount. For such a piece, a blanket or two, or a pony is given. It is called a great leader among all medicines and is accredited with all sorts of cures. It is used principally as a seasoner and to render potent other known remedies for various ailments. The root bark of Ptelea contains a powerful volatile oil, an acrid resin and an alkaloid, and is the drug part that is most frequently employed by the eclectics among the white men. It is used in various sorts of diseases.


Prickly Ash (Zanthoxylum americanum Mill.), "kawaku'mia suma'tckn" [prickly ash sprayer].  The bark, root bark and fruit of this tree are all medicines with the Menomini. The ripe berries thrown into hot water make a medicine which is used in the mouth to spray on the chest and throat in bronchial diseases or on sores. It is also used as a seasoner in mixtures. The root bark is used in poultices. This, along with other medicines, is often put upon swellings in a special method by the Menomini medicine man. The teeth of the gar fish are moistened with the medicine. The medicine man makes three striking motions with this in his hand, saying with each motion "wehe." The fourth time, saying "we ho ho," he strikes the swelling and makes it bleed so that the pulverized or liquid medicine may enter the flesh. He strikes the swelling three or four times. Then a poultice of the medicines is kept on for four days, when it should be healed. The berries of the Prickly Ash are called "ssoma'tcikn" and the liquid in which they are soaked is often drunk for minor maladies. Prickly Ash has no proven physiological value, but in the past has been used by the white man in many ailments. It is regarded as a pungent stimulant, sialagogue, diuretic, diaphoretic, alterative, and emmenagogue. It is a stimulant to the mucous membrane and excites the glands of the buccal, gastric and intestinal tracts. It is said to promote secretion of the pancreas, liver, kidneys and skin and to augment the rate and force of the pulse.




Balm of Gilead (Populus candicans Ait.), "ynosti." The resinous buds are boiled in fat to make a salve for dressing wounds and to put up the nostrils to cure a cold in the head. The white man has found the resin of these buds to be stimulant, tonic, diuretic, antiscorbutic and antiseptic. It has been beneficial in certain pectoral, stomach, nephretic and rheumatic affections.


Peach-leaved Willow (Salix amygdaloides Anders.). Not used.


Hoary Willow (Salix candida Fluegge). Not used.


Dwarf Willow (Salix humilis Marsh.), "knosi'si kopuai'a otci'pa" [little willow root]. It is also called "kinusishiwu'pwis tpa'sikt" [dwarf plant of willow]. The root is used in curing spasmodic colic and to stop dysentery and diarrhoea. The medicinal root is only taken from the shrub that bears insect galls. Other shrubs of the same species are not considered of value medicinally by the Menomini.


Beaked Willow (Salix rostrata Richards). This species was used by the Menomini but my informant did not know its name or use.




Bastard Toad Flax (Comandra umbellata (L.) Nutt.). Not used.




Pitcher Plant (Sarracenia purpurea L.), "mi'niuv mak'sn," [horned owl's moccasin]. This plant is used in Menomini medicine, but data concerning its use was not available. My informant thought that it was used by the sorcerers. The white man has ascribed to the plant the properties of a nervous and circulatory stimulant, mild tonic, diuretic and laxative, but it is not of much value in medicine.




Rough Heuchera (Heuchera hispida Pursh), "sabokoa'ws otci'pa" [diarrhoea root]. This Heuchera or Alum root is recognized by the Menomini for its puckering qualities and an infusion of the root is used to stop diarrhoea.


Swamp Saxifrage (Saxifraga pennsylvanica L.), "wapo'sota'wk" [rabbit's ear]. This is one of the famous remedies known as the rabbit's ear, but not the most important one, which is Valeriana uliginosa.




Sessile Paintbrush (Castilleja sessiliflora Pursh). Menomini name not learned. The flowers and leaves are macerated in grease, such as bear oil or lard, and after the virtues are extracted, the grease is set aside for use as a hair oil, invigorating the hair and making it glossy.


Toad Flax (Linaria vulgaris Hill.). Not used.


Cow Wheat (Melampyrum lineare Lam.). Not used.


Monkey Flower (Mimulus ringens L.). Not used.


Wood Betony (Pedicularis canadensis L.), "pskigo'ksieu mski'ki" [horse medicine]. The root is chopped up fine and put into oats that are fed to the pony. The Menomini claim that it will make him fat and vicious to all but his owner.


Great Mullen (Verbascum thapsus L.), "mtciow'tk n'nimau" [the devil's tobacco]. The root of this plant is used in pulmonary diseases, while the leaf is gathered and smoked as an Indian tobacco. The writer has often seen white men gathering the leaf of this plant to smoke for the relief of asthma and bronchitis. The flowers are supposed to have diuretic properties and have been used in the treatment of tuberculosis.


Culver's Root (Veronicastrum virginicum L.), "wi'skau sksikn." This root is a strong physic for the Menomini. It is likewise a reviver and when eaten it purifies the person, animal, child, medicine, or weapon which has been defiled by the touch of a person who has just been bereaved by death in the family. This is only one of many such revivers and is always found with evil medicines, so that a sorcerer can undo his work. It is also always found in medicine bags and  war-bundles.



No medicines were found in this family, and only two species were collected. They were Physalis heterophylla Nees and Physalis virginiana Mill.




American Yew or Ground Hemlock (Taxus canadensis Marsh.), "sat'k' ppamapih'st" [palm leaf that creeps on the ground]. Branches of this, with white cedar leaves and hemlock leaves, form the medicines of the sudatory to cure rheumatism, numbness and paralysis. Taxus is pulled in a long string from the ground, and coiled into a circle to fit inside an iron pot. The lateral twigs are tied down to the main circle. Hemlock and Arbor-vitae are likewise coiled. Equal quantities of each are put into the pot with water. Then additional sprays of each are placed on top of the pot to keep the steam and the medicine confined. While this is boiling, four stones as big as the fist are heating on the stove. A cabinet is made of canvas or cloth and. the naked patient is covered completely with the pot placed in front of the knees. The four stones are then put in and the medicated steam treats the ailment. The sudatory is called "asapaki'tci."  The patient remains in this tent until dry again, then puts on fresh clothing. The old clothes are washed before wearing again. This is, of course, a modern form of the sudatory. The aboriginal one consisted of a small wigwam, with the stones heated in the open fire and the treatment in general was probably taken with much more ceremony. Both the leaves and fruit were formerly used by the white man in medicine, but are little used.




Leatherwood (Dirca palustris L.), "wetike'xkop" and "kibi's kini'ws otcipa." The latter name means "variegated urine." The roots of this shrub are steeped to make a tea, which heals kidney troubles. It is diuretic. It has been used by the white man in chronic skin diseases.




Angelica (Angelica atropurpurea L.), "mtc otci'pa" [big root].  This is a very important medicine to reduce swellings. The roots are cooked and pounded to a pulp. Then some bruised leaves of Artemisia canadensis are peppered over this pulp. With this mass and a piece of cloth, a hot plaster is made, that the Menomini claim is good for any pain in the chest or body. It is applied to the side of the body opposite the pain. This is done here because it is supposed to draw the pain through to the surface where it can make its escape. Although angelica is not employed extensively by the white man in medicine, it has been used as a stimulant and tonic, and in a warm infusion as a diaphoretic and emetic. It has been recommended as a stimulating expectorant in chronic inflammation of the upper air passages.


Caraway (Carum carvi L.). An escape. Not used.


Musqash Root (Cicuta maculata L.). Not used. The Menomini say that this root poisons the beaver.


Honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis (L.) DC.). Not used.


Cow Parsnip (Heracleum lanatum Mx.) "piki'wns" [very leafy medicine].  An evil medicine used by the sorcerers. The fresh leaves and root of this plant may produce vesication, and have been used by the white man as a counterirritant. They have also used the root with an alleged curative effect in epilepsy. In infusion it is thought to correct dyspeptic disorders.


Osha or Colorado Root (Ligusticum filicinum Wats.), "mani'k." This is not native to Wisconsin, still quantities are used by the Menomini, who buy it from the Shawano druggists under the name of Colorado root. It is supposed to be the greatest of twenty "mani'k" roots and good for many ailments.


Sweet Cicely (Osmorrhiza longistylis (Torr.) DC.). Not used.


Woolly Sweet Cicely (Osmorrhiza claytoni (Mx.) Clarke), "sia'wa otci'pa." This is the remedy to enable one to put on flesh. The root has the taste of carrots and only one piece or branch must be eaten at one time. 


Black Snakeroot (Sanicula marilandica L.). This root was not used by the Menomini, which is somewhat strange as it has been a noted aboriginal remedy with other Indians, and possesses rather active aromatic, bitter principles. When pressed for information, my informant thought it might be used by the sorcerers for some evil purpose


Clustered Snakeroot (Sanicula gregaria Bicknell). The same comment may be made on this species as in the preceding, for it was often used without distinguishing the difference in the species for the same purposes.


Yellow Pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima (L.) Drude), "maniko'sa," (little manik).  My informant explained that there are twenty roots of the "manik" class and that the most powerful of all was "manik" itself, or as it might be called "mtc mani'k," which grows in the mountains near Denver, Colorado. The Pimpernel is the younger brother, the youngest one of the family, and it was considered powerful in the treatment of pulmonary troubles. The root tea is the medicine used by the Menomini. The roots are fibrous, while the roots of "manik" are thickened and fleshy. Pimpernel is also used as a seasoner, "opa'pown," in making various female remedies taste good. It may be steeped alone for a while and then the root taken out and chewed for bronchial affections. Any phlegm that develops in chewing is spat out. The Menomini meaning of "manik" is "bestowing favor." In Colorado, Utah and the adjacent territory, "manik" is highly prized by the aborigines for its aromatic, expectorant qualities. The Colorado root is also the chief of all as a lure in hunting and trapping. It is pulverized by the Menomini and, when steeped, the liquid is used to dip sticks for trap construction. These traps lure the water animals and they are easily caught.




Wood Nettle (Laportea canadensis (L.) Gaud.). It is strange that this is not regarded as an aboriginal medicine by the Menomini, for it possesses peculiar diuretic properties. Notable quantities of ammonia have been distilled from this plant.


Slippery Elm (Ulmus fulva Mx.), "saus'kop" and "osa'sikp,"  When the inner bark is made into a tea, it is taken as a physic. The inner bark is also used to draw pus out of a wound. A small sliver is forced into the sore and bound up with a poultice to reduce the swelling. After the pus has been drawn out, the sliver is removed, taking the pus with it, and the wound heals readily. Slippery Elm bark is a favorite remedy with the white man because of its demulcent and healing qualities. It is used to relieve the irritation and cough of bronchial diseases. The mucilage of the bark acts as a soothing astringent draught in diarrhoea, dysentery, and inflammation of the urinary passages. In some parts of the country, slippery elm poultices are popular in the treatment of abscesses, felons and other local inflammations, being employed the same as among the Menomini.




Edible Valerian (Valeriana edulis Nutt.), "osakakimi'ws," [tapeworm medicine]. This root is fine for cuts and wounds. It is ground to a pulp in a mortar and placed on a cut to stop pain and bleeding. It draws out inflammation and is very healing. For this reason, it is much used in poulticing bolls. It is also used as a tapeworm medicine, after which it derives its Menomini name. After the tapeworm is expelled, the worm is then washed clean, pulverized and swallowed again, then the patient becomes fat and healthy again.


Swamp Valerian (Valeriana uliginosa (T. & G.) Rydb.), "mski'kws," [swamp medicine]. It is also called "wapusata'wk utci'pa," [rabbit's ear root], because of its rosette of long basal leaves, which resemble a rabbit's ear in shape and its ciliate hairs. This is a very important Menomini medicine, jealously guarded as to its identity. Tea from its roots is drunk for cramps and for disorders of the head, throat and lungs. Pounded to a pulp it is highly esteemed as a poultice for cuts and wounds. If one chews it and spits the juice on the hook and bait, it allures the fish, so that an Indian and a white man might fish side by side, and the Indian knowing the secret would catch all the fish, while the white man would not get a bite. If you have some of this in your mouth while arguing, your opponent cannot win the argument. This genus contains possibly two hundred species and the properties of all are similar to the official drug, Valeriana officinalis L. The medicinal virtues of Valerian are found in the volatile oil. It is a feeble sedative to the nervous system. In large doses it causes a sense of warmth in the stomach, a quickening of the pulse and sometimes nausea and vomiting. Larger amounts produce purging and mental stupor. It is used by the white man in quieting hysteria and functional nervousness. It seems to be of value in palliating the nervous symptoms which occur at the menopause. It also benefits the delirium of exhausting fevers. The peculiar acrid odor is only developed in the dried root.




Blue Vervain (Verbena hastata L.), "piisa'nikiki," [fine hair], referring to the slender roots. The root tea is used to clear up cloudy urine. The white man attributes properties to it similar to Eupatorium. It was formerly used as an antiperiodic, but now as a nauseating expectorant and diaphoretic, being emetic in large doses. The white man uses the flowering tops, however, and not the roots. 


White Vervain (Verbena urticaefolia L.). This is not used by the Menomini, though there are records of its aboriginal use by other Indians as an antidote to poison ivy. A bitter glucoside has been extracted from its leaves.



None of the violets are considered medicinal by the Menomini, though they have been used in the past by white men and by some tribes of Indians. The white men used the dried plant, while the Indians used the acrid roots. It was used as a blood purifier and as a remedy in chronic affections of the lungs and in cutaneous diseases, but is no longer employed in scientific medicine. A decoction of the root was used in pulmonary diseases, and like ipecac in dysentery. The Menomini species collected were: Viola adunca J. E. Smith; V. arenaria DC.; V. canadensis L.; V. conspersa Richards; V. cucullata Ait.; V. pallens (Banks) Brainerd; V. pubescens Ait.; and V. scabriuscula Schwein.




Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia (L.) Greene). This was not used by the Menomini, but has been used by the white man for its acidulous foliage. The tartaric acid and its salts in the foliage have been used as a refrigerant and diuretic.


Frost Grape (Vitis cordifolia Mx.), "sewanu'ka," [vine tree], and "sewa'nn," referring to the grape. There were two versions of the use of this fruit. The first was that the seeds were used to remove foreign matter from the eye, as we use flax seeds for the same purpose. The other was that the grape was crushed and the juice used to wash out wild rice hulls from the eyes of the threshers or winnowers.


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