Economic Botany

, Volume 38, Issue 1, pp 114-120

First online:

Nutritive value of maygrass,Phalaris caroliniana

  • Gary D. CritesAffiliated withEthnobotany Laboratory, Department of Anthropology, University of Tennessee
  • , R. Dale TerryAffiliated withDepartment of Food Science and Nutrition, Iowa State University

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Maygrass, Phalaris caroliniana,a native annual grass used as a food resource by prehistoric Indians of the eastern United States, was analyzed for nutritive value. Protein nutrient density of maygrass grains is higher than that for other starchy seeds, oily seeds, and nuts commonly found in paleoethnobotanical samples from the region. Maygrass grains are a good source of several vitamins and minerals, especially thiamin and dietary iron. The amino acid in shortest supply is lysine. Nutritional quality of the grains may have served as an inducement for its protection or cultivation.