Almost every part of this lovely plant is useful to native cultures. The roots contain saponin, which makes up soap, so you can clean yourself with it. The leaves are ultra-fibrous, so you can weave them into sandals, bowls, mats, etc. The spine on each leaf tip is sharp enough to use as a needle. Today I made my own twine. Scrape off the tough outside of the long leaf, using a chert scraper. Separate the fibers into individual strands; stagger them along the picnic table; pick up the whole long thing and start rolling one end on your thigh to twist and twist and twist it. When it gets tight enough, it will double over on itself and form a very strong twine. Voila!
June 15, 2009