The leaves of the bearberry plant (Uva ursi) are a key ingredient in kinnikinnick, which is a traditional herbal smoking mixture. The word kinnikinnick, which comes from the Unami Delaware word for mixture and from Algonquian kereken meaning to mix something by hand, refers to a variety of different mixtures that can be made up of any number of herbs and barks. Kinnikinnick is an essential part of Native American culture and history. It can be highly narcotic to non-habituated smokers and should always be used with care.
In addition to the uva ursi, other leaves that can be used for kinnikinnick include those of the silky dogwood (Cornus amomum) and the narrow-leafed laurel (Kalmia latifolia). The latter is commonly known as pukeweed, due to its strong aphrodisiac properties. It was an important additive in Native American love potions, and it was used to help treat a variety of respiratory conditions.
Mugwort (Artemisia dracunculus) is another leaf that can be used for kinnikinnick, as it is mild and smokes well. It is also a useful herb for reducing fevers and as an antidepressant, and it can be used to relieve headaches. It can also be used to soothe the throat, which is why it has been included in many Native American cough remedies. It can be smoked alone or mixed with other plants to create herbal cigarettes. It is easy to grow, but be careful because it can become invasive if left unchecked.