Many different species of kochar are used by the Tongva
community for medicinal and domestic purposes. Thirty species of this
plant exist. Some of the most commonly used species are described below.
However, all thirty species are edible and have varying
uses in the Tongva community.
To treat sores, the inner bark of kochar species R.
dried, pulverized, and applied onto the area affected. To reduce swelling of the
leg, a decoction is made of the inner bark and ingested. For general aches
and soreness, a poultice is made from the same species.
Kochar also helps with pain associated with the mouth. To
alleviate toothaches, the roots of R. indecorum are made into a
decoction. Dried leaves are added, and the decoction is boiled down to a
thick substance and applied to the aching tooth. The roots of kochar
malvaceum are used to cure toothaches in the same way. For mouth sores,
kochar species R. californicum berries are crushed and boiled into a wash
that will be used to rinse out the mouth.
The Tongva also use kochar for gastrointestinal symptoms. Kochar
species R. californicum are eaten
as a diuretic. Additionally, eating kochar in large doses acts as an emetic.
Teas made of R.
californicum will reduce fever and improve the
appetite, and a mild tea from this same plant will also soothe pregnant women.
Kochar is also a very important food source. All 30 species of
the plant are edible. One of the staple foods of the Tongva community is
"pemmican." To make this, dried kochar berries are pounded into
meat and fat. Kochar berries are considered very nutritious: they are high in vitamin C, phosphorus,
and iron. FInally, kochar plants provide the wood to make arrow shafts.