After going home from a fufilling day of plant adventures, there was still another day of fun to look forward to! On Sunday the sun was shining but there was still a refreshing chill in the air as we all arrived and gravitated to a sun-soaked spot in the field near the trail entrance. We started the day with a circle, a tune about springtime:
Plants there coming out ohhh there coming out, Plants are coming out to feel the sun
I can hear the creek flowing, I can smell the sap boiling, I can feel the sun shininig, drip drip drip
drip drip drip, drippy drippy drip
-adapted from the original by Heidi of the Earth Walk school in Maine
Not long after we wandered into the field looking for flowers! We stumbled upon this basal rosette, and took to the books to figure out who it might be.
We did not find any solid answers, but did get a better sense of some things to look for (what type of leaves, branching patters, entire, toothed or lobed) and how to use Newcombs Flower guide!
Soon we moved into the forest where we looked up and admired the trees, speaking to their different branching patterns that are helpful for identification.
The handy acrynom MADhorse stands for the less common oppositely branched trees: Maple, Ash, Dogwood and Horsechesnut. We can narrow it down in this forest as Dogwood is more shrub-like and smaller, and Horsechesnut is found planted more often in city parks than along the Bruce trail, leaving Ash or Maple as the most likley trees!
We admired the Balsam Poplar tree, with thier alternate branching pattern, and sticky-resin filled buds ! As we practiced fox-walking through the forest Nicola stumbled upon a big fallen Balsam Poplar branch, so we all took some time to collect handfuls of buds in hopes of making Balm of Gilead salve with amazing anti-microbial, and pain/inflamatory relief qualities!
We met the Ironwood tree (Ostrya virginiana) , also sometimes known as Hop Hornbeam, whose name makes alot of sense when you feel how firm and strong the tree feels!
Next we settled into a sunny spot and began to learn about, and process the various inner bark of Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), White Pine and Willow. We collected Black Cherry the day prior, and saved their inner bark to help with cough and colds!
For the White Pine (pinus strobus) and Willow (Salix) we saved the inner back for tinctures. White Pine’s inner bark is nice to chew on, and is a great survival food, the inner bark is great for coughs and colds too.
The inner bark of Willow contains salicylic acid, the same constituents as in Asprin, but in a much smaller dose. We talked about how Willow Bark it is more of a complete medicine, not straining the liver as much as a big dose of Asprin. Willow bark tincture can be used to help with pain, inflammation fevers, arthritis pain and more.
Willow also has a natural rooting hormone, allowing cuttings to be taken from the plant and grow in water, or straight into the ground (ideally in a wet environment). Cuttings of Willow soaked in water for a few days can help you propogate cuttings of other trees such as Elderberry cuttings.
After a very enjoyable and relaxing session of inner-bark collection, we ventured into a Birch forest, and to the edge of some incredible Cedar, Fern and Moss covered rocky lookout. It was a beautiful moment as we all settled into this stunning lookout spot, and watched in scilence as the Turkey Vultures soared along the cliffs.
We ended the day with a few more mysteries:
To top of an amazing day we spotted another Porcupine! This one we had the pleasure of watching walk along the field.
What a beautiful day, and a beautiful weekend! I am grateful for all the plants and people who made it so fun! I can’t wait for many more adventures, all the learning still to come and to get to know this great group of people.