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Sources: USDA and British Columbia Forestry Tree Book

MOUNTAIN ALDER-
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small tree or coarse shrub, often occurring in clumps
parts of the stem is sometimes food for deer and hares

LOCATION: throughout BC, east of the Coast and Cascade mountains
mid to subalpine elevations, wet, nutrient rich areas such as lake, pond, swamp or stream edges

SIZE: 2 to 10 meters in height  tree or shrub

FRUIT: seed cones on a short stalk; the seeds or nutlets have very narrow wings

FLOWERS: long (3 to 4 cm), drooping catkins (male)
woody, brown, short cones (female)
produced in the fall and stay on the tree until spring; see them before the leaves

LEAVES: thin, oval-shaped, rounded or blunt tip
shallow, wavy lobed and double toothed green with a pale and hairy underside,remain green through most of the fall like most alders

BARK: yellowish-brown

WOOD CHARACTERISTICS: very hard

USES: traditional - wood: bows, snowshoes, smoking and drying salmon and meat, eating utensil and dishes, source of dye and hide tanning substance; bark: dye, fish nets, medicine to stop bleeding 

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MOUNTAIN HEMLOCK-
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Size at 200 years: 50-100 feet tall, 2-4 feet in diameter

Life Span: 250 years

Needles: Short stalked, half-rounded or angled, 1/4 to 1" long, blue-green. Usually crowded or whorled at end of twig and curved upwards.

Cones: 1-2 1/2" long, usually purplish or green, turning brown.

Bark: Reddish-brown, deeply furrowed into narrow ridges. Bark has a tendency to twist around the bole.

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PACIFIC YEW-
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Size at 150 years: 15-30 feet tall, 6" to 1 foot in diameter

Life Span: 300 years

Needles: 1/2 to 3/4 inches long, in two rows along branch flattened, short points at both ends, soft and flexible deep yellow-green above light green with two whitish bands beneath.

Fruit: Elliptical seeds 1/4" long, stalkless, blunt pointed, enclosed in a scarlet cup.

Bark: Purplish-brown, very thin with red-brown papery scales.

Native Americans traditionally used the Yew for archery bows and canoe paddles. In 1991, researchers discovered that a drug called taxol could be extracted from the bark. Taxol has found to be effective in controlling ovarian and other types of cancer. Trees are either female (with the seed) or male, containing a pollen bud.

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PONDEROSA PINE (aka Yellow Pine)-
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Size at 150 years: 120-180 feet tall, 2 1/2 to 4 feet in diameter

Life Span: 300 years

Needles: 5-10" long, in bundles of 3, sometimes 2 on the same twig

Cones: 4-6" long. Conical or egg shaped, with outward pointed prickles

Bark: Black on young trees, yellow-brown on large scaly plates on mature trees

The lumber of the ponderosa pine is valuable, often being used for window frames & panel doors. Quail & nutcrackers consume the seeds. Squirrels and chipmunks often store the seeds in caches, thus aiding their dispersal. Loggers call this yellow pine or bull pine.

Native Americans had many uses for ponderosa pine. They ate the seeds and inner bark of both the ponderosa and the whitebark pine.

Some used the wood for making dugout canoes. They used the pitch for waterproofing moccasins and other items. They also mixed it with bear grease and used it as an ointment for sores and inflamed eyes.

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SUBALPINE FIR-
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Size at 200 years: 60-120 feet tall, 1-2 feet in diameter

Life Span: 200 years

Needles: Flat, 1-1 3/4" long, spread almost at right "brushed up" angles. Blue-green in color.

Cones: Upright, 2 1/4-4" long, purple

Bark: Grey, smooth, with resin blisters, becoming cracked with age

When weighted to the ground with snow, the lowest branches take root, forming new shoots. The bark is winter browse for deer, elk, and moose. Leaves are eaten by grouse and seeds by songbirds and mammals.

Native Americans placed great importance on the pitch and bark of subalpine fir as a very important medicine. The Secwepemc called the tree the medicine plant. They chewed the pitch to clean their teeth. People also chewed the pitch of all true firs for enjoyment.

Some groups made large temporary baskets from sheets of bark that they stitched together with spruce roots. They used the baskets for cooking or soaking hides. They also collected boughs to use for bedding and as flooring in sweat lodges.

The Carrier people used the wood to make roofing shingles and burned the rotten wood to make a substance for tanning hides.

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WESTERN HEMLOCK-
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Size at 150 years: 120-180 feet tall, 3-4 feet in diameter

Life Span: 400 years

Needles: 1/4 to 3/4" long. Flat, flexible, 2-ranked, and rounded at tip. Distinctly stalked.

Cones: Egg-shaped, light brown, 3/4 to 1" long, thin scales, wavy edges, located on the tips of small branches

Bark: Russet-brown. In mature trees about 1 1/2" thick, hard, deeply furrowed

Coastal people carved hemlock wood, which is fairly easily worked, into spoons, combs, roasting spits, and other implements. The Haida carved the wood from bent trunks into giant feast dishes. Sometimes hemlock roots were spliced onto bull kelp fishing lines to strengthen them.

Hemlock bark is rich in a substance useful for tanning hides. The Saanich people made a red dye which not only colored wool but also added colour to cheeks and removed facial hair.

The Nisga'a and Gitksan peoples scraped off the inner bark in spring and baked it into cakes. A favorite way to prepare the dried cambium in winter was to whip it with snow and eulachon grease.

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