Why ‘shichils’?

OK, so the word ‘shichils’ is not the most euphonious, but it is part of a tree I quite like.

Shichils is Hanis for myrtlewood nut.  Or, for Californians, the nut of the pepperwood, aka Bay laurel tree.  In botanical terms, Umbellularia californica, a lovely member of the laurel family native to southern Oregon and much of California.

In Hanis, there are distinct words for the nut and the tree.  As we’ve established, the nut is shichils.  The tree itself is wegenhl (wægænɫ).  The roasted nuts were a traditional food for many Native Americans.  Some peoples used young leaves for teas, or medicine.

Also, there was a Coos woman who was nicknamed shichils.  I always thought that was quite funny.  I don’t know why she got that nickname – perhaps they were one of her favorite foods, or she was an exceptionally good gatherer of the nuts.  I don’t know.  But what a fun name.

I find the trees beautiful, and near where I live is a park with an amazing grove of mature wegenhl.  I had meant to roast some shichils this year, but for some reason the crop this year was quite meagre, so I was able to only gather a handful of nuts.  Hopefully, next autumn, I’ll have better luck.

-Til next time.


About shichils

Just sharing some fun on language
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