Pala Environmental Department News California

The Many Uses of Native Plants

Did you know that many of Pala’s native plants were traditionally used for more than one purpose? For instance, manzanita provided food, medicine, construction materials, and was used in rituals. The berries were used to make a tea-like drink; mashed into a jelly; or  dried and ground into flour for mush.  The seeds were  ground into meal for mush or cakes or used in turtle shell rattles. A tea from the leaves was used to treat diarrhea and poison oak. The trunk and branches of the bush were used for firewood, construction, and making broom, tool and pipe handles.

Manzanita 2

Another plant that had many uses was white sage. Sage seeds could be used to make flour for mush, or blended with other seeds for flavor. Seeds were also used medicinally as an eye cleaner. The leaves were used for flavoring food and treating colds, or were dried and tied into bundles for smudging and purification. White sage is still used in this way today. Sage leaves were also mixed with water for use as shampoo or  dye. Dry leaves were placed in the underarms as a deodorant.

Sage

Some plants, such as deer grass, served one main purpose – in this case, basket weaving. The stalks were used as foundation, or warp, material in coiled baskets. Although deer grass was only used for making coiled baskets, baskets were used for all sorts of things, such as storage, cooking, carrying, and even hats!

Deer gras

 

Pala Environmental Department News California

Xeriscape Your Landscape!

Spring is here, signaling for most people that it’s time to start your gardens.   As California enters its fourth straight year of severe drought, we should all think about landscaping with low water use plants, instead of water-hogs (like grass & tropical plants).

Xeriscape is the name for a type of landscaping done in arid regions, like southern California, that uses little to no water for irrigation.  These types of landscapes also require far less maintenance than most gardens, making them very easy to maintain.  They usually attract all kinds of beautiful wildlife, such as butterflies and hummingbirds, with their bright-colored flowers and wonderful scents.  The reward of installing these types of gardens is being able to sit and relax in them during those long summer evenings, when the breeze moves through the trees and the hummingbirds flicker from plant to plant.

These xeriscape tips will help you plan your low-water garden:

  • Planning & Design: make sure you include plants/trees of varying sizes and textures, as well as rocks or stepping stones to add interest, and mulch the rest. Trees planted on east & west-facing spots can protect your house from the hottest parts of the day (allowing you to use less energy on air conditioning).
  • Best Plants to Use: native plants or low-water use plants from regions with an arid Mediterranean climate like ours will do best in Pala. There are so many different types of plants (not just cactus!) that are different sizes, colors, textures, and heights that you will have no problem filling your garden with beautiful plants. PED has lists of native plants, plants that hummingbirds/butterflies love, plants that stand up to fire really well, and more.
  • Turf/Lawns: we recommend getting rid of as much of your lawn or turf as you can, since lawn and turf grasses require a huge amount of water. Consider replacing it with groundcovers or mulch.
  • Efficient Irrigation: use separate irrigation for turf and the rest of your plants. Turf should use sprinklers, making sure the water only waters the lawn (not the sidewalk). Trees, bushes, flowers, and ground-cover should be irrigated with drip irrigation or bubblers, watering only where the plant actually is.  This reduces your overall water use.
  • Mulch: mulch helps control weeds & keeps moisture in the ground, instead of evaporating, so you can water less. The Pala Transfer Station sells mulch, so you don’t even have to go far to pick some up.
  • Maintenance: maintenance should be easier & cheaper with these types of gardens. Once the plants are in & your drip irrigation system is automated, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy it.

If you’re curious to learn more, or want some help with design questions, please stop into our Pala Environmental Department office at the Tribal Administration Building, or see us at our booth during Cupa Days on May 2.  Happy Gardening!

Pala Environmental Department News California

Spring is Allergy Season!

Spring brings a variety of health concerns, including allergic reactions to airborne pollen and asthma.   Each spring, tiny particles known as pollen are released from trees, grasses, and weeds.  Pollen is transported by wind and when we breathe them in they can trigger an allergic reaction known as Pollen Allergy or Hay Fever.  During an allergic reaction you may feel a number of uncomfortable symptoms such as sneezing; nasal congestion; coughing; itchy and watery eyes; runny nose; itchy throat; itchy skin; hives; fatigue; irritability; and allergic shiners (dark rings under the eyes caused from restricted blood flow near the sinuses).

You can’t avoid the outside world but there are ways to minimize pollen exposure.  The key to preventing symptoms is knowing when the pollen count is high and avoiding outside exposure as much as possible.  Pollen counts tend to be highest early in the morning on warm, breezy days so scheduling your errands or family activities for later in the day can help lessen the exposure.  Pets can bring pollen indoors on their fur, so if you have a pet that comes in and out of the house make sure to wipe off its fur before it comes back in.  Also, do not hang your clothes out to dry outdoors during high pollen days. You will track pollen indoors.

Thankfully, not everyone is allergic to pollen. But if you are one of the unfortunate ones, here are a few resources that can help you minimize exposure on high pollen days:

The Pollen.com website provides allergy forecasts, educational material, weather forecasts,  and has a number of tools and downloads you can take advantage of to stay aware of the allergy  conditions in your local area.

Like the Pollen.com site, Azma.com provides asthma forecasts, educational material, weather forecasts, and has an asthma alert system you can sign up for to be notified regarding your local asthma and air quality index.

Call us if you want more information about pollen allergies! 760-891-3510