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Cherokee Medicine

The Cherokee pharmacopoeia included more than 600 species of native plants. From the mayapple (Podophyllum peltatum), for example, they made a treatment for warts; today, we use chemicals obtained from the plant to treat cancer. Hundreds of other plants were used for dying cloth, making body paints, concocting poisons for spears and arrowheads, weaving baskets and other crafts, and of course, eating. One savory specialty, which they passed on to early European settlers, was chestnut dumplings, featuring the produce of the now virtually extinct American chestnut (Castanea dentata), the victim of a fungus accidentally imported earlier this century.

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