A favorite basket plant of the Apaches and Navajos is the ill-scented sumac or skunk-bush (Rhus trilobata), which is common from Illinois westward. The twigs are soaked in water, scraped, and then split. Baskets of this material are so made that they will hold water, and they are often used to cook in, by dropping hot stones in the Water. A southern shrub, the supple-jack (Ber-chemia scandens), makes good withes. The fibers of the red-bud tree are said by basket-makers to ?qual in strength those of palm or bamboo. For such purpose as basket-making, withes should be gathered in spring or early summer, when the wood is full of sap and pliable. If the material is to be kept for some time before weaving, it should be buried in the ground to keep it fresh. In any case, a good soaking is necessary, and the work should be done while the withes are still wet and soft. Other good woods for withes are ash, white oak, hickory, yellow birch, leatherwood, liquidambar, willow, and witch hazel. Large withes for binding rails, raft logs, etc., are made from tall shoots or sprouts of hickory or other tough wood, by twisting at one end with the hands until the fiber separates into strands, making the withe pliable so that it can be knotted. This usually is done before cutting off the shoot from its roots. A sapling as thick as one's wrist can be twisted by cutting it down, chopping a notch in a log (making it a little wider at the bottom than at the top) trimming the butt of the sapling to fit loosely, driving in a wedge, and then twisting.
A withe is quickly fastened in place by drawing the two ends tightly together, twisting them on each other into a knot, and shoving them under, as a farmer binds a sheaf of grain.