Monday, July 21, 2008

"Kisu-sit" - Jerusalem Artichoke

I was poking around with my digging stick this evening and decided to check how some jerusalem artichoke tubers were growing, as it is a little early in the season. A species of sunflower, it looks really similar. The main difference I look for is the leaves. Sunflowers have alternate leaves. Jersualem artichokes have alternate at the top of the plant, sometimes in whorls of three, and opposite leaves on the lower half. The Pawnee called this plant "Kisu-sit". Nebraska tribes harvested this plant in the fall, into the winter, and ate the potato-like tubers raw, roasted, or boiled. I've only had them boiled, not unlike a potato in taste. In the fall the succulent stems dry out with a woody exterior and pithy center. I've made blow tubes, for hot coal burning, with them. Also, they have made some nice containers. It is easy to push out the pithy center. I plugged one end with a glob of pitch & beeswax mixture I was playing with and made a simple cork for the other end. A little sinew wrapped around the open end keeps it from splitting when the cork is tightly put in.

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