Eeyoonsaawikiša – Eastern Redbud

We are quickly moving out of aanteekwa kiilhswa ‘Crow Moon’ and into cecaahkwa kiilhswa ‘Sandhill Crane Moon,’ and the days are getting both longer and warmer.  This period is called meeloohkamiki ‘spring’ in Myaamiaataweenki. However, meeloohkamiki is not viewed as a separate season, but instead a transitional period between peepoonki ‘winter’ and neepinwiki ‘summer’ in our seasonal system.

Myaamia seasonal wheel shows the two seasons: peepoonki on the top colored black and neepinwiki on the bottom colored blue.

You might notice that we are in a period of bird moons (following cecaahkwa kiilhswa is wiihkoowia kiilhswa ‘Whipporwill Moon’), and there is a lot of bird activity during this time.  I encourage you to notice what else is happening during this transitional period.

One of the more noticeable changes in our environment is that trees are starting to reawaken for the year, and may have growing buds or even leaves starting to emerge.  One of the most exciting changes for me is the flowering of eeyoonsaawikiša ‘Eastern Redbud Tree’.  These trees are found throughout Myaamia homelands, and are one indicator of meeloohkamiki.  Their deep purple buds are often one of the first to emerge, and their blooms turn pinkish purple as they continue to bloom.  

Redbud tree at Miami University. Photo by Scott Kissel at Miami University.

In addition to being beautiful, these trees are also important ecologically.  As one of the first native flowering trees to bloom, these trees are invaluable to pollinators such as bees who will swarm the flowers as they begin to bloom.  Additionally, the blooms are edible and can be eaten right off the tree or dried for later use.  Eeyoonsaawikiša is part of the legume family, and later in the season, will form green seed pods, which are also edible when green and fresh.  Eeyoonsaawikiša will develop broad, heart shaped leaves that turn yellow in the fall.  The tree will hold on to its brown, dried seed pods long past the time that it loses its leaves.

Bee on redbud blooms. Photo by Kara Strass

In many of our educational programs, we encourage our students to observe what is happening around them in their environment, and if possible have them watch a single tree species throughout the entire year.  This process allows students to understand that species at a deeper level and connect that to other things that are happening in their environment.  This year, I have been observing eeyoonsaawikiša and have started to learn things that I had never noticed before, even after being around this tree my entire life.  If you want to learn more about eeyoonsaawikiša or other Myaamia plants, you can do that using mahkihkiwa ‘the Myaamia Ethnobotanical Database’.  

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