The leaves were usually harvested in January and February when other fresh foods were unavailable.
The flower stalks were harvested in spring and summer before they produced blossoms. Both the leaves and stalks were roasted in a large pit for about two days and eaten or pounded into cakes to be dried for later consumption. The leaf mass "heart" was eaten like a giant artichoke and tasted like molasses.
The flowers were boiled to remove bitterness and were eaten immediately or sun-dried. Seeds were gathered and ground into flour.
The Apaches extracted the juice from young flower stalks to make pulque, an intoxicating drink. Distilled pulque is used to make tequila.
Long fibers were used to make rope, nets to carry things in, bow strings, brushes, sandals, cradles, skirts, mats, basket foundations, and snares. Pulling the spine and fiber from the leaf created a needle and thread.
The thorns were used in producing baskets.
The burned stalks provided a dye for tattoos.
Compresses were made of wet pounded pulp for local infections or bound on the chest to relieve congestion.
Juice of the root was applied to fresh wounds.
Did You Know?
Spring can be a very colorful season at Tonto National Monument, but when will the wildflowers bloom? Rain is needed throughout the winter, and warm days are a good indicator of a full bloom ahead. If you miss the peak flowering season, remember that you’ve also missed the peak crowds. More...