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FutureStarrGrowing Sweetgrass OR.
The peoples of both Europe and North America independently consider this plant sacred and sweetgrass plays an important part in sacred ceremonies on both continents. The leaves are dried and made into braids and burned as a vanilla-scented incense, and used to make baskets which retain the vanilla-like scent for many years. Sweetgrass is a high-yielding grass, when fertilized, cultivated and managed, can produce up to 40,000 dried braids per acre.even in the tropics at high elevation, and on every continent including Antarctica. This means that Sweetgrass as a plant genus must have evolved during the time when all of the continents were together 100-300 million years ago. That makes the Genus Hierochloe "Living fossils" and evidence of a time when all the continents were together.
That migration probably occurred when the northern Atlantic ocean was frozen solid during the Ice Ages, between 11,000 and 15,800 years ago, but perhaps the migration from Europe to the Great Lakes occurred as long ago as 36,000 years ago (Brown, 1998) from the human DNA evidence. And I am proposing that those people brought live sweetgrass plants with them, from Europe to North America, along with the Clovis spear points.The other indicator that sweetgrass has had a close association with humans, is that it has lost its ability to normally produce viable seeds. Garlic and horseradish are like that, in that these plants do not bother to produce any seeds, since humans have been replanting them every year from roots or bulbs for thousands of years. Plants that are reproduced by humans by plant parts like roots or bulbs, instead of seeds, over thousands of years, stop bothering to produce viable seeds. The loss of viable seed production, is a good indicator of a plant's close association with humans for at least 5,000 year, or longer.
You can see a mapping of some of the potential village sites in Colorado, using sweetgrass as the indicator at http://www.ecoseeds.com/villagesearch.html. The website shows sweetgrass location maps that were generated by the Herbarium at Colorado State. There is an example of one site, where sweetgrass was found in June, 1898 by C. Crandall in Conejos County, where US Highway 285 crosses the Conejos River, at Lat. 37.1012, Long -106.0067, Elevation 7,799 ft.The harvesting of Sweetgrass begins in late June to early July. However, the plant should never be harvested in the first year of planting. The procedure is simple, but neglect of following the proper way to harvest has resulted in the inability for the grass to reproduce. The Sweetgrass should only be harvested when the plant covers a six-foot square area. This should be the yield of one growing season and should produce eight to 10 braids. Simply cut the stem two to three inches from the base of the stock. Never pick Sweetgrass by pulling the roots out of the soil. (Source: windspeaker.com)