On Sunday, January 9, Abe Sanchez and I took a trip up to the Laguna Mountains to gather Rhus trilobata, one of the four most important plants in southern California used to weave native baskets. Abe uses deergrass, aka Mulenbergia rigens, as the bundle foundation, or warp, for his elaborate baskets, and split sumac as the coiling material.
Those little white berries surrounding Abe are snowberries, Symphoricarpos albus. The berries provide food for quail and other wildlife.
Abe is gathering from a gigantic thicket of Rhus trilobata growing on the side of the road. Generally, plants must be burned or coppiced to produce the straight shoots necessary for weaving. This thicket hasn’t been trimmed, but Abe still found plenty of usable shoots.
The watertower sits across the road from the Rhus trilobata thicket. Exactly one year ago on January 9, 2010 we gathered Rhus trilobata from the same spot across from the watertower, and I wrote about that fieldtrip in an earlier post where you can see a few more examples of Abe’s magnificent baskets.
Abe used split sumac as the white coiling material for this Chumash inspired basket.