Haploporus odorus: A sacred fungus in traditional Native American culture of the northern plains

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Abstract

The Indigenous Peoples of the northern American plains used Haploporus odorus to ornament sacred robes, human scalp necklaces and other cultural properties. The fungus was also a component of medicine bundles and used for protection against illness. Numerous collections, some dating to the early 1800s, from the Blackfoot, Blood, Cree and other northern plains tribes indicate this fungus was used widely as a component of sacred objects and as a symbol of spiritual power. The exceedingly fragrant anise-like scent of H. odorus sporophores appears to be the reason this fungus was selected anti revered. Collection notes and historic photographs provide additional evidence for the importance of this fungus in traditional Native American culture. The significance of this fungus has remained obscure due to misidentification of the fungus as carved cottonwood roots, loss of information on traditional Native American culture over the last century and lack of previous ethnomycological investigation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)233-240
Number of pages8
JournalMycologia
Volume89
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - 1997

Keywords

  • Aphyllophorales
  • Basidiomycota
  • Indigenous Peoples of North America
  • Plains Indians
  • ethnobotany
  • ethnomycology
  • traditional medicine

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