"Ancient Native Plant Use in Central Texas: What We Know and How We Know It"

The Central Texas plants we enjoy today have been used for food, medicine, and crafts for millennia by the Native people of Texas. Written accounts by Spanish missionaries and European explorers, Native oral traditions, and archeological investigations provide windows into the many fascinating uses of our Texas native plants. In this lecture, I'll talk about uses of some of the common plants at Wild Basin -- sumac, juniper, switchgrass, prickly pear -- as well as some very important but lesser-known plants such as little barley and camas.

Leslie Bush is an archeologist who specializes in identifying bits of plants preserved on archeological sites, usually in the form of charcoal. She received her Ph.D. from Indiana University in 2001, and her dissertation was published by the University of Alabama Press. She has worked on sites in twelve states including Maryland, Florida, Iowa, and of course Texas. She once found a prickly pear seed on a 600-year-old site near Indianapolis.


This lecture will include a hiking component for those interested. Please bring a water bottle and wear supportive shoes.

Hike is limited to 15 individuals ages 10 and up.

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  • Hope S. P.

    Thank you, Leslie, for an excellent program which inspired us to transform our land into wild food and medicine gardens. Thanks, too, to Louise and Amanda and Wild Basin with the Balcones Canyonland Preserve. The acorn bread was delicious!

    September 23, 2013

  • cresident

    My friend Nancy said that the talk was fascinating. She had no clue that there were so many edible and tasty plants out there. She especially appreciated the info/tasting of the acorn bread, mesquite flour, special teas and about delicious-sounding native american staples the the food archaeologist lectured on.

    September 22, 2013

  • Ann M.

    A very informitive class with a speaker who has a passion for her field. The class kept a good pace and finished on time.

    September 22, 2013

  • Vernon B.

    The speaker was perfect for this class. Very knowledgeable and energetic. She had a great perspective of the topic with proof from different angles.

    September 22, 2013

  • Karyn

    Woke up ill.. Next time!

    September 22, 2013

  • cresident

    Woke up with a scratchy throat. Looks like it'll only be my +1 - Nancy. If this changes I will again update my RSVP.

    September 22, 2013

  • Linda S.

    Unfortunately, I will be unable to attend due to illness. I changed my rsvp so hopefully someone on the waiting list can attend. Thank you for organizing such a wonderful event! I hope there will be another opportunity!

    September 21, 2013

  • Rajeev J.

    I had booked three spots but given my family's evolving schedule and the very long waiting list I see here of many highly interested folks I am gladly giving up my spots. Have a great lecture and hike!

    Perhaps some educational links and photos can be circulated before or after the event?

    1 · September 19, 2013

  • Kendra A.

    Wow I think there should be another ancient native plant hike! This is great!

    4 · September 18, 2013

  • Karyn

    My RSVP was for + 1 (my hubby) Will this be a problem? Also perhaps I can assist -- I am a Certified Texas Master Naturalist and often volunteer at balconies canyonland events.

    September 10, 2013

  • Brittney M.

    Brittney Mahlum

    August 21, 2013

  • Terry T.

    Bonnie and Terry Tull

    August 20, 2013

  • Pam W.

    Pam Wuestenberg

    August 20, 2013

  • Stephen B.

    Great opportunity to learn about cultural use of native plants; will help me with my study.

    August 15, 2013

  • Rajeev J.

    Is this event appropriate for a curious middle-schooler?

    August 12, 2013

    • Louise L.

      Absolutely! We ask that children be ages 10 and up for the hiking portion.

      August 12, 2013

  • Kate

    As a member of the Native Plant Society of Texas and gardener, this program sounds really valuable!

    August 12, 2013

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