Today, most of the focus on edible and medicinal plants is concentrated on losses due to destruction of the rain forests in Central and South America. North America is often overlooked as a major source of natural plant products, because much of the information on uses of wild plants disappeared over 100 years ago. Of the information on plants utilized by North American Indian tribes the least is known about the Plains Indians.. It is known that Native Americans used plants extensively for food and medicine. It has been reported that over 1,112 species of plants were utilized by North American Indians for food alone. In a study of the prairie bioregion it was found that a total of 123 plant species were used as food and 203 species were used medicinally. In this virtual program, Bill Handel will highlight the edible and medicinal uses of some of these plants in this program.
Bill Handel grew up on a 300 acre farm along the bluffs of the Mississippi River north of Savanna in northwestern Illinois. It was here that he first gained an appreciation of nature. He attended Highland College in Freeport, Illinois. He finished his education at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, with a double major in Zoology and Botany. He got his B.A. in Botany and his M. S. in Plant Biology in 1991 under Dr. Robert Mohlenbrock. For the past 28 years, he has worked at the Illinois Natural History Survey, primarily conducting surveys for the Illinois Department of Transportation. His work has included wetland delineation and mitigation, evaluating natural communities, assessing areas for endangered and threatened species. His interests include restoration and reconstruction of prairie and forest communities and edible and medicinal plants of the Native Americans.
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