Columnar Cacti in Seri Indian Culture

Statement of Responsibility:
Felger, Richard S. and Mary B. Moser
Series:
Date:
1974
Part Of Series:
Kiva, 39(3/4)
Extent:
pages 257-75
Abstract:
Six species of columnar cacti (Family Cactaceae, Tribe Cereeae) are native to the Seri region of western Sonora, Mexico. Different parts of these cacti were variously employed for food, caulking pitch, games, house-building, medicine, sealing pottery vessels, tattooing, and wine. Four large-fruited species were of major economic significance in traditional Seri culture. These are cardón (Pachycereus pringlei), organ-pipe (Lemaireocereus thurberi), pitahaya agria (Machaerocereus gummosus), and sahuaro (Carnegiea gigantea). The fruit is a favorite food and is still harvested. The fruit of certain species was dried and stored for future use, as were the seeds, which have a high oil and protein content. The seeds were ground and variously prepared. Traditionally the fruit of organ-pipe and sahuaro was used almost exclusively for wine-making. A relatively extensive vocabulary is associated with the columnar cacti. Certain species, particularly senita (Lophocereus schottii), are prominent in traditional Seri religion and mythology. The time of cactus fruit harvest was a joyous occasion.
Publication Status:
Published
Country:
Mexico
Subject Languages:
Content Language:
Field:
Work Type:
Subject:
Ethnobotany
Nature of Work:
Entry Number:
848