Here are two links to spread sheets I created of medicinal plants used by the Five Tribes: Cherokees, Chickasaws, Choctaws, Muscogees (Creeks) and Seminoles. Other tribes may have used them too, of course.

Medicinal Plants


Medicinal Plants NOT in Indian Territory

The first is a compilation of plants used by the Five Tribes I found in the sources below.

The second list was a bear to create and is still a work in progress. (A big thanks to my diligent research assistant, Felicia Mitchell!). What I have attempted to find out is, which plants grew only in the southeast, or were found only in Indian Territory, or grew in both locales?

Despite these plants being listed in the source material as used by a certain tribe, not all plants listed were used by tribes in the east and in the west. For example, Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (licorice) is cited in Hamel and Chiltoskey, Cherokee Plants and Their Uses as being used by the Cherokees. That does not always mean, however, that the tribespeople used it pre- and post-removal. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ( and Oklahoma Biological Survey’s (  plant distributional data, that plant does not appear in Oklahoma. Of course, the tribe could have traded for it, or possibly transplanted cuttings into their gardens. Another issue to keep in mind is that even if the plant is designated as an Oklahoma plant as per the OBS, that does not mean the plant grew throughout the entire region.

This differentiation between east and west usage is potentially important, because it means that tribespeople who may have depended on a certain plant in the east did not find it in the west, and therefore had to find substitutions.

Other than testimonies of modern tribal doctors and those found in the Indian and Pioneer Histories (at Oklahoma Historical Society and online through the Western History Collections at OU), few primary sources exist on the subject of the Tribes’ medicinal plant usage and these are written by non-Indians who either observed or interviewed tribal healers. For examples:

William H. Banks, “Plants of the Cherokee.” M.A. thesis, Great Smokey Mountain Association, 2004.

David I. Bushnell, Jr., “The Choctaw of Bayou Lacomb, St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana,” 1909, SI-BAE Bulletin #48.

T.N. Campbell, “Medicinal Plants Used by Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek Indians in the Early Nineteenth Century,” Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences 41(1951):285-290;

T.N. Campbell, “Choctaw Subsistence: Ethnographic Notes From the Lincecum Manuscript,” Florida Anthropologist 12:1 (1959), 9-24. The Lincecum Manuscript is at the Center For American History, University of Texas, Austin.  Gideon Lincecum (1793-1874), a nineteenth century physician and “naturalist” wrote his observations and information gleaned from Choctaw informers from 1823 to 1825.

 J. Mooney, Sacred Formulas of the Cherokees, US Bureau of American Ethnology, 1885-6 and ed., The Swimmer Manuscript: Cherokee Sacred Formulas and Medicinal Prescriptions (1932).

J. Swanton’s works on Creeks and Choctaws are found in 42d Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, from 1922 to 28.

Hamel and Chiltoskey, Cherokee Plants and Their Uses. Herald Pub. Co., 1975. This book is actually a secondary work and does not provide citations for the hundreds of traditional medicinal plants the authors include, thus requiring a critical assessment of their list.

Linda Averill Taylor, “Plants Used As Curatives by Certain Southeastern Tribes,” Cambridge, MA. Botanical Museum of Harvard University, 1940;

Dan Moerman’s Ethnobotany Database at: is a compilation of all these sources but does not stipulate if these are eastern or western plants.

***This is a work in progress. If you have anything to add, please let me know.