Day 204: Broom-Sedge

Broom-sedge, or Andropogon virginicus is a beautiful native grass that while often considered an invasive species, does have some medicinal value.

The Cherokee used an infusion of the whole plant to wash sores and frostbitten areas of skin. The grass is associated in certain formulas with the rabbit, who hides from the frost underneath this plant. Broom-sedge can also be mixed with beef tallow or lard to make a salve that’s great for wounds and sores. The foliage was also often taken internally as a remedy for diarrhea. It was also used, alongside onion peels, as a source of yellow dye.

Here’s formula No. 60 from Mooney/Olbrecht’s “Swimmer Manuscript”:

Now then! Ha, now thou hast come to listen, Brown Rabbit, thou art staying under the (sheltering) broom sedge, (and art there) moving about. I have come to put my feet under it where it is warm. Relief indeed has been caused.

Now then! Ha, now thou hast come to listen, Blue Rabbit…(etc)

Now then! Ha, now thou hast come to listen, Black Rabbit…(etc)

(with at the end:) dist! dist! dist! dist! Sharply!

This formula is intended to prevent frostbite as well as to cure it. It is addressed to the Rabbit, for the same reason as explained in No. 59, because this is one of the animals that is thought to be immune from frostbite. The Rabbit is represented as hiding under the warm kaneskewodi, Andropogon virginicus L., broom-sedge, and the patient obtains relief by putting his frozen foot under the same cover.

The final “dist,” repeated four times in a slow way, is intended to imitate the cry of the rabbit when startled.

As a preventative, the formula is recited on starting from the house in winter, and [is believed to] enable one to walk barefoot on the snow without injury.

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