What does the "dog tongue" mean in "The Scarlet Ibis"?

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bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

During Doodle's discussions with his big brother about their future together, they talked of living in Old Woman Swamp, where they would build a house and live together. Doodle planned to "marry Mama" while his brother could marry Daddy. Doodle's plan also called for the boys to "pick dog-tongue for a living." Dog's-tongue is another of the unusual plant species mentioned in the story (which is presumably set in author James Hurst's home state of North Carolina). Also known as "Hound's Tongue," it is a "biennial weed (officially known as Cynoglossum officinale) with soft, tongue-shaped leaves" which gives off an offensive odor. Dog's Tongue "bears nutlets covered with barbed or hooked prickles." The root of the plant has been used as a remedy for coughs, head colds, and shortness of breath. The leaves have also been used, when boiled in wine, as a cure for dysentery.