, Muskogee, OK

January 23, 2013

A day devoted to native plants

By Molly Day
All the Dirt on Gardening

— This year the Oklahoma Native Plant Society Indoor Outing is titled “Native Oklahoma: Plants and People.” The speakers, demonstrations and vendors will focus on the importance of native plants to Oklahoma’s cultural heritage as a means of sustainable living, food and art.

Members from the Northeast, Crosstimbers, Central and Southwest chapters of the Oklahoma Native Plant Society are participating to present a day filled with speakers and demonstrations Feb. 2.

Alicia Nelson, the president of the Northeast Chapter, said, “The rich Native American heritage of Oklahoma includes the integration of native cultures with the diversity of our native plants.”

The day begins at 9 a.m. with a continental breakfast, educational booths and native plant vendors.

At 10 a.m. Dr. Andrea Hunter will speak on “Osage Plant Use in the Past and Today.”

Hunter said: “I will discuss the types of native plants used by the Osage for subsistence, medicinal, ritual and utilitarian purposes. I will also discuss the effects colonization had on the Osage in terms of native plant use and the limited use today.”

At 11 a.m., Rita Williams will speak on “Revitalizing Family Traditions for Food Survival: Gathering and Preservation of Seasonal Foods.”

Williams, a Muscogee (Creek) Tribal Citizen, works with the Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative in Okmulgee. She is the policy coordinator, chairperson of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Food and Fitness Policy Council, and a former employee of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.

Mike Berryhill, a Muscogee (Creek) tribal citizen, is a self-taught traditional bow maker who credits his grandfather Joseph Berryhill for teaching him how to look for certain trees for bow making and taught him to make his first bow. Now retired,  Berryhill founded the Red Stick Bow Society and teaches bow making. His presentation is “Traditional Bow Making and River Cane.”

Anthropologist Steph-anie Berryhill, a member of the Deer Clan who works for the Mvskoke Food Sovereignty Initiative, will present “Possum Grape Use in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation.” She will demonstrate how the plant was used by the Creek Nation. A food sampling will follow her talk.

At noon during lunch, Judy Jordan, a co-author of “Plains Apache Ethnobotany,” will give a brief introduction to the Southern Plains Indians of Oklahoma. Her books will be available for sale, and she will autograph copies.

At 1 p.m., the Cherokee Native Art & Plant Society will provide a group presentation by tribal elders and Rog and Shawna Cain, all of whom are designated Cherokee National Treasures. Their presentation is “How Cherokee Artists Use Plants and Interact With Their Natural Environments.”

The Cains said they would “focus on Cherokee National Treasures, especially the Elders, who as Tradition Keepers, continue to produce Cherokee art.”

At 2:45 p.m. horticulturist Russell Studebaker will give a program titled, “Guided Tour and History Presentation at the Creek Council Oak Tree Park.” (

Native plant vendors at the event will include Wild Things Nursery, Pine Ridge Nursery and Groggs Green Barn.

Demonstration booths include Cherokee artisans, Creek basket weaving, information on how to propagate and plant native species, and Oxley Nature Center’s director,  Eddie Reese, who will demonstrate how Yucca was used to make soap and rope.

The ONPS Northeast Chapter meets on a Monday evening in March, May, September and December at the Tulsa Garden Center. All the chapters organize wildflower walks and outings, plus a two-day annual meeting and the Indoor Outing. The chapter has Wildflower Fridays at 5:30 p.m. on the third Friday of each month at Panera Bread, at 41st Street and Hudson Avenue in Tulsa.

ONPS membership dues are $15 individual, $20 family and $5 student. The winter 2012 issue of the society’s newsletter, Gaillardia, is online at

Winter12.pdf. The group also has an ongoing discussion on native plants on its Facebook page.

WHAT: Oklahoma Native Plant Society Indoor Outing

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 2

WHERE: Tulsa Garden Center, 2435 S. Peoria Ave.

COST: $7, either at the site or during pre-registration. Registration forms available at

INFO: Alicia Nelson, (918) 599-0085 or