Japanese White Birch
The botanical name for birch is “Betula,” (the source of the name of Betula Lake in Whiteshell Provincial Park). The tree is found in temperate or subarctic locations in Asia, including Japan, China, Korea, and Siberia. The Indigenous people of North America have many uses for White Birch: canoe making being, perhaps, the most well known. Indigenous healers have used the bark to treat burns and rashes and to create casts for broken limbs. The chewed leaves have been used for treating wasp stings.
The healing properties of Betula bark and bark extracts have been known for a long time in traditional medicine in different parts of the world. Several species of Betula have traditionally been used for the treatment of various inflammatory diseases including arthritis.
Found on mountains, tundra and peat bogs, Dwarf Birch is a shrub rather than a tree. Since its growing conditions are inhospitable, rather than growing wood, it expends most of its energy producing roots and leaves. Despite its lack of wood, the Inuit used it for fuel on the tundra.
The foliage and fruits of the Buckeye contain tannic acid and are poisonous to humans. The Indigenous people of North America historically would blanch buckeye nuts to extract the tannic acid for use in leather making. The trees’ nuts darken with exposure to the air: they have been dried and strung into necklaces.
This tree originated in north-eastern Asia and can be found from outermost Mongolia to Korea and Japan and to the Russian Far East in the Amur River Valley
Widespread across Central and South-Easter Europe and temperate Asia, from Austria and Turkey as far east as Japan, the Tartarian Maple is named after the Tatar peoples of southern Russia
Freeman Maple and Inferno Sugar Maple
These are both cultivars of Canadian Sugar Maple.
(also known as Hawthorn, Thornapple, Maytree, Whitethorn or Hawberry)
The haws or berries are edible, but the flavour has been compared to over-ripe apples. In the United Kingdom and on Manitoulin Island in Ontario, they are sometimes used to make jelly or home-made wine. The young leaves and flower buds are also edible, are known in rural England as “bread and cheese.”
Coniferous Trees and Shrubs
Baby Blue Eye Spruce
The catkins, the cones, and the inner bark of the Black Spruce are all rich sources of nutrients when prepared correctly. The fresh shoots are a rich source of vitamin C and have been used to prevent and treat scurvy. The pliable roots have been used in basket weaving and for sewing birch bark sheets together in making canoes. Spruce wood is used for sound boards for instruments such as guitars, mandolins, cellos, violas, pianos, and harps.
Cedars (Techny and Woodwardii)
White Cedar is honoured with the name Nokomis Guzhik (Grandmother Cedar) in Ojibwe. It is the subject of sacred legends and is considered a gift to humanity for its many uses in crafts, construction, and medicine. Cedar is associated with the northern doorway of the Ojibwe medicine wheel. The foliage is rich in vitamin C, and is believed to be the medicine (referred to as annedda) which Indigenous people provided to Jacques Cartier when members of his party were stricken with scurvy in the winter of 1535–36.
There are many species of Juniper found around the world. The berries are best known as the flavour ingredient in gin, while Juniper sauce is often served with venison. In the wild, the berries are eaten by grouse during the winter months. The smoke from burning juniper branches is used in Celtic rites at Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) to purify a house and its inhabitants. It is also one of the plants used in bonsai horticulture. The Ojibway, as well as the Woodlands Cree of Saskatchewan, drank decoctions of juniper bark, roots, or needles to treat a variety of lung-related disorders, from colds to asthma to tuberculosis
This hardy apple tree was developed in Morden Manitoba. The Goodland is a moderately sweet apple with a creamy-green skin and a red blush. With white flesh that is tender and juicy, it is aromatic, has a fine texture, is wonderful as a puree, and very good for eating fresh.
These sour cherries are a rich source of phytochemicals and antioxidants. They are also one of the few fruits with a naturally occurring source of melatonin. As a bonus, their spring blossoms are very fragrant.