Whole Leaf Tobacco

Buffalo Bird Woman's Tobacco Garden

deluxestogie

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Nearly 100 years ago, an anthropologist interviewed Buffalo Bird Woman, a very old member of the Hidatsa Indian tribe. The lengthy material was published in 1917. I have excerpted the chapter on tobacco, which discusses their cultivation and harvesting practices. The variety of tobacco has been identified as Nicotiana quadrivalvis, a variety that Jessica is currently growing at NCSU for GRIN.

Buffalo Bird Woman's Tobacco Garden [129 kb pdf file, 9 pages]

It discusses, among other topics, the harvesting and use of blossoms. Apparently they kept only the green bottom of the blossom (before it began to produce seed), and discarded the white part. They were sun-dried, then buffalo fat was used in curing them.

My own experience has been with the entire blossom--the flower part that dries after the seeds begin to form. I guess I missed the part of the blossom that they were using. I'll have to try again this season.

Bob
 

Mad Oshea

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That was a very good read. Thanks for the post. Gona check out the blooms this time as well. The best part of the baccy every 4 days. But will I need a rib bone?
 

bonehead

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that was real interesting to read. i don't know if you need a rib bone, but it sounds like you need a ball sack basket.
 

deluxestogie

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Here in SW Virginia, there is a small buffalo ranch (and a little buffalo meat grill), so I occasionally see a scrotum basket in the tourist souvenir shops. They are quart size, and cured as rigid as plastic. Maybe that's what my approach to blossom collecting was missing. I guess the Hidatsa hadn't figured out the process of polymerizing hydrocarbons.

Bob
 

JessicaNicot

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I think the green part to which she was referring must be the sepal whirl, although they may have been smoking the whole base of the flower it sounds (nascent capsule/ovary included; hence the 4 day limit). I guess it makes sense as the bud region on many Nicotianas is quite resinous.
 

JessicaNicot

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so whats interesting is I've been looking at pics of Quadrivalvis online

http://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-taxon=Nicotiana+quadrivalvis
http://nathistoc.bio.uci.edu/Plants of Upper Newport Bay (Robert De Ruff)/Solanaceae/Nicotiana quadrivalvis.htm

and the one I am growing is a lot different and almost appears dwarf (with both leaves and flowers that fail to fully extend). we have a dozen different accessions of Quad and it will be interesting to see what they look like. I attempted to grow up another accession along with this one but it wasn't as vigorous and was lost while still in the growth room.
 

deluxestogie

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Great read. Sounds like the second choice behind the blooms were the stems. Did I read that correctly?
I believe they were, as Jessica surmised, harvesting the entire green button of the blossom (minus the petals) before it began to develop seed. No stem. They of course harvested and smoked the leaf.

Bob
 

Dean

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Enjoyable read, thank you for the post. As a small grower trying to be self sufficient, in a country only known for its burley and limited VG. I love period accounts of battlers doing it especially with limited rescues and utilising the whole plant. I have also smoked blossoms but found them harsh if smoked in a ciggy, will try them in the pipe as I have heaps in the bags. I have 50 bags out atm so there are a lot of blossoms. I will try the green pods soon on those I am not keeping for seed, I'll have to let them go to do it but am hoping to find another use for a missed flowering plant.

cheers
 

deluxestogie

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It seems to me they were harvesting the buds before they get fertilized, like pot (not that I know a lot about that).
Yes. Before they began to form seed. Then they allowed them to color-cure. Then cased them in buffalo fat...yum!

The blossoms that I have smoked were well dried and shriveled to start with, at which point, I kilned them for a month.

Bob
 

deluxestogie

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The back of a bull buffalo apparently contains a lot of fat. (A Black-Foot chief was named, "Buffalo Bull's Back Fat.")


Buffalo Bull's Back Fat. Painting by George Catlin. Smithsonian.

Bob
 

Shundahai

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Interesting account. My own people (Comanche) used two types of tobacco. For general, everyday smoking we used "kwi'pu", which was a very mild and to my knowledge low nicotine type, and was very likely either N. quadrivalvis or N. attenuata. The other tobacco we called "pahmu" and this was reserved almost exclusively for ceremonial use both to be smoked and as offerings. Pahmu we obtained by trade from tribes to the north, the Arikara namely. What is interesting about the account above is the Buffalo Bird Woman mentions that their tobacco was a sought after trade item, but I am pretty certain that the tobacco we called pahmu was not quadrivalvis. Pahmu has been described to me as being made into a large twist/rope type tobacco of fairly decent sized leaves. It was supposedly an extremely potent tobacco, and if not used carefully it could be dangerous. I think it is likely that this tobacco was a potent strain of N. rustica. We do not have access to this tobacco in the present day unfortunately...mostly we use store-boughten tobacco now for ceremonial use.
 

Mad Oshea

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I harvested a one gallon zipplock for a shot at it. I can get buffalo at almost any store here. You can order it from KELLERS meats on line as well. Seems like alot of work for so little to try. Mad-
 
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