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Cranberry part of Hoosier history

Native pucker — Cranberries once flourished in northern Indiana, where they grew in bogs and wetlands. Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Agriculture

Native pucker — Cranberries once flourished in northern Indiana, where they grew in bogs and wetlands. Photo courtesy Michigan Department of Agriculture

When we think of traditional Thanksgiving foods from the Hoosier garden, corn, squash, beans, apples and pumpkin come to mind.

But, if we transport ourselves back 150 years, we had wild cranberries (Vaccinuim macrocarpon) harvested from bogs and wetlands in the northern part of Indiana at the meal.

These acidic, ruby fruits are an important part of American history. Native Americans called the native cranberry sassamanash and reportedly served it at the famous Massachusetts meal known as the first Thanksgiving.

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Indiana’s Natural Heritage series returns to public television

Natural site — Black-eyed Susans and grasses returned to The Nature Conservancy’s Spinn Prairie, a 29-acre remnant preserved near Reynolds, Ind., in White County, after years of use in agriculture. © The Nature Conservancy/Indiana

Natural site — Black-eyed Susans and grasses returned to The Nature Conservancy’s Spinn Prairie, a 29-acre remnant preserved near Reynolds, Ind., in White County, after years of use in agriculture. © The Nature Conservancy/Indiana

After a year on hiatus, the Natural Heritage of Indiana returns to the small screen on Sept. 21, with the first of a four-part series on WFYI-TV, Channel 20.

The first episode, The Indiana That Was, aired about a year ago. Since then, award-winning, freelance producer-photographer Sam Orr has been developing three new episodes.

The series is based on the book The Natural Heritage of Indiana , edited by Marion Jackson, a retired ecology professor from Indiana State University. Originally published about 11 years ago, the book was reissued earlier this year by Indiana University Press.

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