Tulip Tree : Early Uses

The Tulip Tree played a significant role in early American history.  The tree was highly sought after for its height as well as pliability.  Native Americans of the Appalachia region referred to what we now call the Tulip Tree as “Canoewood.”  The natives of this region used the trees specifically for making large canoes that could fit many members of the tribe.  When a “Canoewood” tree was hollowed out it could fit as many as twenty people.  It is even reported that none other than Daniel Boone used the wood of a Tulip Tree to carry his family and his belongings down the Ohio River.  

Native Americans had other uses for the Tulip Tree other than transportation.  The Cherokee Medicine System, in their language called “nvwoti,” is a very old system between three thousand and four thousand years old that incorporated the many uses of the Tulip Tree.  The nvwoti system is still practiced today in North Carolina and Northeast Oklahoma, which are two places that have large Cherokee reservations.  In nvwoti the Cherokee word for Tulip Tree is “tsiyu.”  Tsiyu bark is used for its medicinal purposes.  The main uses for the bark is to treat diarrhea and digestive problems.  A decoction (which is the liquid that is left after you boil something) of the bark can be used to bathe in to treat snakebites as well as soothe hemorrhoids.  Author David Winston of Cherokee Medicine and Ethnobotany gives a recipe to create this tulip tree bark decoction:

“Dosage: Bark tea: 1-2 tsp. dried bark to 8 oz. of water. Decoct 20 minutes, steep 1 hour.  Drink 4 oz. 3 times per day.”

(The link to the recipe is reproduced below.)