White spruce – Picea glauca

In Chippewa, cingob’ These next two edible and medicinal wild plants are very similar: white spruce and white pine. They’re named for the white crust that often coats them. The white spruce’s stiff needles are a blueish green. It’s also called skunk or cat spruce, and if you crush the mature needles and sniff you’ll […]

Red oak – Quercus rubra

In Chippewa, wi’sugi’mitigo’mic meaning “bitter oak” Carrying a piece of oak is said to bring good luck. And it’s a lucky tree to have around for many wild ones. It’s a long list: opossum (which nowadays wander into Haliburton county on occasion), eastern cottontail, snowshoe hare, eastern chipmunk, squirrels, beaver, white-footed mouse, red fox, black […]

Common cat-tail – Thypha latifolia

In Chippewa, apuk’we, which I think refers to “shelter” (muskrat is supporting me on this idea), but don’t quote me Sometimes cat-tails are mistakenly called bulrush, but that’s a separate species entirely here, yet they seem to use these terms interchangeably in Great Britain. There is also a narrow-leaved cat-tail (typha angustifolia) in our area […]

Wild sarsaparilla – Aralia nudicaulis

In Chippewa, wabos’odji’bik meaning “rabbit root” Wild sarsaparilla’s folk names include rabbit foot and wild licorice. In some of my herbal books, it’s called spikenard instead. There are many plants named spikenard. There’s also the slightly larger bristly sarsaparilla (aralia hispida) in our area of Central Ontario, which can be told apart by the bristly […]

Yarrow – Achillea millefolium

In Chippewa, a’djidamo’wano meaning ajidamoo (squirrel) and in a localized dialect wano (tail); also, ajidamoo refers to the red squirrel specifically, as per Ojibwe People’s Dictionary Yarrow is another European import. It’s most descriptive folk name is woundwort. It’s not the only “woundwort”, so cheers for Latin names. On the same note, it’s been called […]

Common milkweed – Asclepias syriaca

In Chippewa, ini’niwunj meaning “man like” Milkweeds folk names are somewhat all over the place, as there are tons of varieties, and many probably don’t refer mainly to A. syriaca. Silkweed is one of the more descriptive names that certainly applies. Edible Uses Common milkweed is a versatile edible plant. To me, it tastes green […]