Chumash Ethnobotany
Jan Timbrook

This is a terrific resource for acquiring a sense of Chumashan interactions with the plant world. It contains about two hundred
pages of listings of individual plants with their Chumashan names, Latin names, common English names, and Spanish names,
and discussion of the plants’ roles in life, supported by citations. The book includes dozens of illustrations, a map of Chumashan
and neighboring territories, and a description of the local environment, with emphasis on the flora. Attention is given to plant
uses for food, medicine, and production of shelter, tools, utensils, clothing, and religious items. The individual plants are
discussed not just in terms of their places in material culture, but also in thought, philosophy, and perspective, including in
stories associated with them. This is not a foragers’ guide and the author discourages using it for that purpose. The main sources
are the notes of John C. Harrington during his work together with Chumashan people. Julie Tumamait-Stenslie and others
carefully reviewed the manuscript prior to publication. The book includes charts of the plants and plant parts discussed. Jan
Timbrook, the author, was Curator of Ethnography at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History at the time of publication.
Selected Book Reviews
by Glenn Anaiscourt