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  • Jenn

Medicinal Trees

When we often think about Plant medicine, we primarily think about flowers, plants but NOT trees.

Trees offer multiple functions to our landscapes but also to us on many different levels.

-they offer food

-medicinal qualities

-shelter for wildlife

-absorb carbon dioxide in their wood

-they provide oxygen for us

-mental health support from their physical presence

-support pollution control

-building support for humans


-filtering our water and removing pollutants

-trees help conserve energy

-help prevent soil erosion and mitigate things like drought

-trees help track the seasons and give us a living record of what is happening

-trees also provide us with opportunities for business, create jobs, and feed us.

So the old saying-"when is the best time to plant a tree... 10 years ago" is very true! So plant a tree today, tomorrow and every chance you get.

Some examples of some trees that can be used medicinally.

Trees that can be used medicinally(*Not a full list)

Alder-(birch family

*Nitrogen fixer

*Hosts for moths and butterfly larvae and birds

*Attract pollinators

*thrive in wet areas but really really resilient

*Catkins can be used as a protein source

*They can be tapped for syrup (like maple trees)

*wood can be used to preserve and smoke salmon.

*The bark can be used as a fever reducing compound and is anti-inflammatory. (It contains Salicin)

*You can make a tea out of the leaves and bark and can be used externally to help heal wounds, hemorrhoids and skin irritations like poison ivy or insect bites. It can also be used (leaves-poultice) to suppress lactation and prevent mastitis.

Linden (American Basswood)

*Linden trees are one of my favourite trees. They feed bees and all parts of the Linden tree are edible or contain medicinal qualities in some way.

*Linden tea can be used to treat anxiety, insomnia and ADHD. It is extremely gentle and used readily with children.

*You can also make mead out of the flowers and it is tasty!

*They are typically deer resistant and we should plant more as they provide so much nectar and pollen for our bees.

*Some of the fibres of the tree was used for baskets, ropes, and lines.

*Some species of Linden is used for wood primarily and the fruit feeds animals while the rotten and fallen trees provide refuge for birds and ducks.

Ash-(olive family)

*This tree is connected to folklore, Celtic, greek and Norse religions. It represents protection, balance and healing. It has also been used as a tree of rebirth.

*It is prone to the emerald ash borer that has destroyed millions of trees. Healthy trees support resistance to this pest.

*It has been used for weaving and can grown in cold/wet/damp environments with ease. Wild animals like moose and deer love to forage on the branches and leaves.

*Some species of Ash do very well to resisting pollution and salt in urban places and are resistant to drought.

*Some species have a sweet sap that can be used for sugar.

*Wood is used for tool handles and things like baseball bats.

*Seeds are edible and are used as an aphrodisisac and appetite stimulant. It has also been used to make a tea to treat irritation , laxative for bowel issues, anti-inflammatory, arthritis, gout and bites.


*This tree is used for lumber and firewood primarily. It has a long life typically and fairly easy to grow.

*You can eat the beechnuts which grow on the Beech tree and are chock full of nutrients.

*The leaves can be used to treat tuberculosis and are antibacterial.

*The leaves are also known to support Menstruation and are not safe to use during pregnancy.

Locust (Honey)

*Used primarily historically as an indigenous tree for medicinal and practical uses.

*The sweet pulp (tastes like honey) it produces is known to attract bees and other pollinators.

*Fruit can be used to feed livestock and wood can be used to make furniture and fences.

*It is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and Cancer in some cases.

*The pods can be used to make tea to treat acid reflux, measles and catarrh. The pods are known to be antiseptic and to support good mood.

*It has been used to treat smallpox, measles and whooping cough.

*This tree is known for its resilience and can endure heat, dry and contamination. It is said to provide these benefits to all who plant it or cultivate it.

Ginkgo (Goldenspire, Autumn Gold or Maidenhair)

*Goldenspire are Hardy trees with a spread of only 5ft (about 15 feet tall)

*Resistant to deer, disease, heat, humidity, drought, insects, pollution and clay soils

*Maidenhair are one of the few surviving trees from 150 million years ago

*Very easy to grow

*It was preserved by Buddhist monks in the late 12th century and proliferated. It has a lifespan of over 1000 years. There is one tree in China that is said to be 3500 years old.

*Female trees bear a fruit that has a nut that is considered a delicacy in Asia.

*They are known to have a bad scent (Male plants).

*It has a natural resistance to Parasites and bacteria.

*It is known as one of the best remedies to improve blood circulation. It has a vasodilator quality that supports blood circulating readily.

*It is also known as one of the best brain boosting remedies and has been used to treat dementia and cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s.

*It is also used to assist in treating diabetes, bone healing and inflammation.

*Some health Practitioner’s have used for anxiety and depression.

Sugar Maple

*Although a very Canadian tree, it is the tree of Wisconsin!

*This tree is most well known for Maple syrup.

*The inner bark can be used to make flour.

*The sugar maple is used primarily for digestive and integumentary system (outer layer of the body-skin, hair, nails and glands and nerves on your skin) (Acts as a protective barrier from infection, injury, sunlight (excessive) and bacteria)

*It is known as an Astringent and Diuretic. It is also known as a liver tonic.

*It is known as the best firewood and it burns hot and long.

Aspen (Bigtooth primarily)

*Extremely versatile tree (does better on dry areas)

*Windbreak tree

*Fast growing

*The bark and leaves are used primarily for Rheumatoid arthritis, nerve pain and issues with structural complaints. It is also used for swelling and inflammation, infections of the kidney, bladder and cystitis.

*It is a great treatment for diarrhea, common cold and is known to be and antiseptic.

*It has been used as a treatment for frostbite healing and relieving fevers.

*If you have an allergy to aspirin, it would be wise to avoid. (It has been used for generations for an aspirin like effect)

*Great for reforestation and require a lot of room to grow as they can grow up to 100ft in some cases.

*Used regularly for its timber.

*The Celtic traditions believe that the Aspen has protective powers and was named after the greek word Aspis which means shield.

*Indigenous culture and NA traditions typically use the soft powder of the Aspen as a natural sunscreen. Just rub your hands along the trunk and then rub on your face and skin.

Black Cherry Tree

*Valuable food source for birds and animals.

*Fruit is edible and quite tasty In preserves etc.

*Used as a shade tree for animals and humans alike.

*It is known as the Wild Black cherry tree and is Native to Wisconsin.

*It is known as a cough suppressant is excellent at treating coughs, colds and bronchitis. It is also used for treating diarrhea, digestive upset and insomnia.

*The berries have also been used to treat gout, joint and pain/inflammation.

*It is known to support kidneys and reduce muscle damage after exercise.

Kentucky Coffee Tree

*Kentucky Coffee tree is known to be used as a soap, fly poison and to reclamation of soil.

*It is a well known pollinator and a great source of nectar to hummingbirds and bees.

*The wood is very durable and is used for furniture, cabinet work and construction.

*The seed pod of the Kentucky Coffee tree can be roasted like chestnuts and taste like Caramel. They have also been used as a caffeine free coffee substitute.

*The bark is used as an effective enema and also a diuretic.

*It can be used for coughs or reflux issues

*Its wood is said to have been used to treat insanity.

*It can also be used to speed up a protected labour.

Conifers-Cedars, Firs, Pine, Spruce

Tamarack, Balsam fir

Balsam Fir

*Screen and windbreak tree

*Animals rely heavily on this tree for food during the winter months-moose especially, black bears, squirrels, and grouse. Animals also use it for shelter.

*This is a very well known indigenous tree that has been used in traditional culture.

*typically known as a great smelling Christmas tree.

*used for flooring in Teepees

*boiled to purify indoor air

*They are used in a paste or salve to treat cuts, burns and snow blindness. It is known to hold antiseptic qualities and provides pain relief.

*In tea they are known to support sleep, and support a healthy immune system. Particularly the tea is used to treat coughs and sore throats, respiratory illness and sinus infections.


*This tree is important for its boughs, bark and branches.

*It has been used to relieve cold symptoms, treat upset stomachs and fatigue. It is known to promote general good health.

*It is known as a nonconformist tree. It will grow where others do not and tends to break the rules of how trees like this should act. (Right up my alley ;) )

*Tamarack gum tastes like candy as it contains a natural sugar with a flavour like honey.

*Dried powder can be used as a baking powder.

*The young shoots can be cooked like a vegetable. The inner bark can be dried and ground into a flour.

*Needles (fresh) can be used to make tea.

*It is known to support digestive systems (even things like constipation), immune, integumentary and respiratory system. It is an analgesic, antiseptic and laxative.

*It has also been readily used for wounds, burns and frostbite (like basswood)

*Some cool things about this beautiful tree besides its visual beauty are; -you can make red dye from the bark, the wood has been used for many well known moments in history like the bluenose (was build from tamarack), railway ties across Canada and telephone poles across NA. It has been used for arrow shafts and snowshoes and to weave bags. The gum can also be used for paint and ink!


*This is a sacred tree and used during sweat lodge ceremonies, during prayer and used for purification purposes. It is known to decontaminate the air and is a comforting aroma for those around it.

*It is used for fevers, Rheumatic issues, and for colds and flu’s.

*It is considered one of the four sacred medicines in the indigenous community. (Tobacco, sage and sweet grass are the others).

*Cedar is used for healing, restoring balance and grounding, and has protective qualities.

*It is known as an anti-inflammatory and supports the respiratory system.

*Cedar tea contains Thujone and can be toxic in large quantities. Small quantities are not a concern. This should not be used during pregnancy.

*It is known to be high in Vitamin C and assists in proper functions of the internal organs.

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