Navajo Wild Plants

In American Southwest Indian traditions, like for the Navajo and Hopi tribes, wild plants from the region served a variety of purposes and were of great importance.

Marcella Tulley, age 92, mother of Navajo activist Earl Tulley, remembers gathering cota for medicine, tea and dying. Cota–Thelesperma species–makes a beautiful deep orange red dye, which the Navajo have traditionally used to dye wool for their world renowned blankets. Cota is also used as a kidney medicine in Western herbal traditions, and it is used by the Navajo to settle an upset stomach. Its flavor is similar to a green tea, but the liquid is usually dark orange.
Photos by Kelley Fowler