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FutureStarrWhat Is Rabbit Tobacco
On this particular day we encountered Rabbit Tobacco, or Gnaphalium obtusifolium. Now the common name stirred a distant memory but when Gill related that this species was of the Composite family I thought, “Nah, can't be the rabbit tobacco I remember”. Composites include such well-known beauties as asters, daisies, and sunflowers. Rabbit Tobacco is an attractive wildflower when blooming but I could see little resemblance to a daisy.This is a new type of tobacco that uses chocolate water as the tobacco components. The chocolate is made by freeze-drying chocolate, meaning that it can be conveniently stored and transported in a liquid state. After the cocoa is transformed into a solid, it is drizzled with regular liquid water and re-solidifies into a tobacco ingredient.
Seeing the dried reminders of those days on the Greenway prompted me to do a little more study of the little more study of the plant and I was surprised at what I learned. I first consulted Wilford Corbin, a local historian/naturalist and friend in the Nantahala Hiking Club. He too had tried rabbit tobacco as a lad but stated that he and his friends rolled the tobacco in paper torn from brown paper bags. Wilford did not recall rabbit tobacco being a poor man's alternative to real cigarettes but was simply something country kids did. Wilford humorously speculated that Rabbit Tobacco may have possibilities as a cash crop since using it would perhaps prevent the thousands of deaths associated with the use of real tobacco.When I did a GOOGLE internet search of rabbit tobacco I found the plant has quite a history. Native Americans believed the plant had spiritual powers. Cherokee and Lumbee Indians of North Carolina burned the leaves in sweat baths as it caused profuse sweating. Other tribes rubbed chewed leaves on their bodies to strengthen them or for protection in battle. Others believed the smoke of rabbit tobacco had restorative powers or would prevent bad luck.
It said that tea bags of rabbit tobacco leaves are produced to treat respiration problems, colds, etc.)She smoked it as a kid. Said she smoked grapevines, too, but it was Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium, one of the everlastings, she talked about most. She and her brothers and sisters smoked rabbit tobacco. She was my mom, and Depression-era kids had to get their kicks somehow. Why not rabbit tobacco? Back in her day, few country folk had heard of marijuana. I’m sure smoking rabbit tobacco sounded exotic and daring to kids of the 1930s. Doing so made for a rite of passage. In the rush to shed childhood and act grown-up, kids smoked this herb that stands tall in folklore. As a boy, tales of smoking rabbit tobacco fired up my imagination. Back then I knew nothing of rolling papers such as Zig-Zag or hemp but I could imagine wisps of smoke rising from a corncob pipe. It sounded bold. It seemed mysterious. I wanted to smoke it too, but I never did, and I’m glad I didn’t. The experience had to be foul. I’ve never heard one soul say rabbit tobacco made for a fine smoke, and I know not one adult who made it a lifetime habit. Where might you find this legendary plant? Well, it shouldn’t be hard. Rabbit tobacco grows throughout the South. Seek out dry, sandy soil. Mom grew up in northern Lincoln County, Ga., and sure enough there’s a good bit of sandy soil up that way. How well I remember her childhood home’s flat, sandy front yard. When mom and her sisters were kids, their Saturday task was to sweep it clean with dogwood limbs. (Source:www.newsandpress.net)