Avakhat has several medicinal
properties. For headaches, the Tongva apply a poultice made of the boiled leaves and bark to the head.
They use the same poultice for swelling, cuts, wounds,
insect bites, and strained muscles. A wash made of the green leaves or the inner bark
is used to relieve the pain and bring down the swelling of sprains. For burns and skin irritation, the Tongva
add some fat or
oil to dried flowers to make a salve. The chewed stems and leaves are used
to reduce inflammation of the gums to tighten the teeth. The Tongva also
drink a very
strong decoction made of the bark for stomachaches and pneumonia. They use the roots to
make a general tonic.
Avakhat is very important in other aspects of the Tongva culture as well.
The Tongva use the inner bark to extract a fiber to make cordage and women's
skirts. Avakhat is also a source of food: the catkins are boiled with
also part of Tongva legends and tales. In one story, Coyote
hears the leaves of the avakhat tree singing in the wind. He believes that they are
singing his name so he tries to imitate the song but runs out of breath and faints. He
awakens having learned not to try to imitate the songs of others.