Living Memorials Project

Healing Trees Project

Lessons from the Field: Living Memorial Stewards

These project narratives include LMP group contacts -- initial responses to registry questions on purpose of the project, location of the site, and intended events and activities.


By Anne Wiesen

The Tree of Life is a universal symbol representing the diversity and interdependence of all forms of life. In many cultures trees are revered and respected not only for their ecological products and services, but also for the grace, strength, and tolerance they demonstrate through their service, and through their beauty.


The Healing Trees Project is focused on the power of trees to mirror human emotions, bring inspiration to our lives, and hold the meaning of events in our communities. The purpose of the project is to encourage us all to consider trees in new and creative ways, invite them into our communities, and appreciate their contributions to the enrichment of our lives. In this project, we are selecting aspects of the individual and community healing processes that have been demonstrated across the globe in response to the trauma of September 11. We are associating these aspects of healing symbolically with tree families that in a striking way, embody the essence of each stage.


Certainly there are historical and legendary examples of the association of trees with human life struggles and celebrations. Our intention here is to demonstrate how personal stories about trees in our lives, what we know about them, how they have served an important role in our lives, can lead us to plant, respect and care for them more profoundly. The Healing Tree Circle is about our collective response to September 11. It is just a beginning. Please use this demonstration to develop your own stories and meanings, based on your individual and community experiences. And let the trees hold the meaning of your narrative.


Circle of Healing

Because healing is not a linear process, the aspects of healing and associated trees are represented as a circle of healing. Stages of healing are continually revisited, however, the experience of each stage will change over time, as we change and heal, over time. It is our vision that progressive visits to the healing trees will bring progressive healing to our minds, hearts, spirit and hopes.


Resilience: Pine

Tree of Resilience: Pine Family (Pinaceae)

 

The pine displays unique flexibility that allows the tree to adapt to extreme climatic circumstances. The pine is an evergreen, holding onto its leaves (needles) throughout the cold or dormant season. Withstanding extreme cold, heat (in some cases, fire), drought, and ocean salt spray, pines are arguably the most wide-ranging and successful genus of trees on the (North American) continent, rivaled by the oaks in their ability to grow in a diversity of climates. The Pine Family is highly diverse. In this project, we will focus on the White Pine (Pinus strobus), growing 75-100 feet high, and sometimes 50-75' wide. The cultivar, 'Fastigiata' is a columnular upright variety, growing 20-30', and well suited for urban and small settings.

Healing Association

In a horticultural context, resilience is a measurement of a plant's ability to tolerate conditions of adversity and return to a healthful state. Demonstrating resilience through challenging climatic circumstances, Pines remind us of our own ability to "weather climatic shifts" and to continue to work to secure the well-being of future generations, through difficult times. The Trees of Resilience are highly valued medicinals by the Native Americans, Chinese and European cultures, bringing qualities of clarity and peace. (See Healing Ethnobotanical Uses below.)

A Short Story: Tree of Peace

An Oneida Story, retold by Charles Doxtater
"The story of the Tree of Peace is true and happened in the early 1800's. The Tree of Peace helped unite one of the most powerful leagues ever, The Iroquois League of Nations. The Iroquois League was made up of six tribes: the Cayuga, the Mohawk, the Oneida, the Onondaga, the Seneca, and the Tuscarora. The tribes of the Iroquois League at one time were fighting with one another. There were fierce battles, but the people grew tired of the fighting. So they agreed to bury their weapons under a giant white pine tree. They believed that the weapons would be carried away by the under ground waters. So they sent the weapons off through the path of the roots. The weapons went in all four directions. After that, the tribes no longer fought. Instead, they formed the Iroquois League." (Source: University of Wisconsin website.)

Planting Requirements

Pines are sun-loving, preferring dry, acidic, well-drained soils, from coarse sands to moderately sandy loams. pH 4.5- 6.5. Pines can tolerate salt, but are sensitive to compaction and pollution.

Uses in the Landscape

Structure
  • An evergreen natural border and backdrop for smaller flowering trees
  • Excellent visual and windbreak screen
  • Produces deep shade, with little opportunity for under-planting
  • Excellent specimen tree
Sensorial
  • Sweet aromatic properties, especially after rain
  • Dramatic visual affirmation of "life" in winter
  • Some species have wonderful bark interest especially Tanyosho and Lacebark pines
Food and Habitat for Wildlife
  • Pine seeds are eaten by red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatches, black-capped chickadees, and pine warblers. (NRG)
  • The larvae of the western pine white butterfly (Neophasia menapia) feeds on the needles, as do the eastern pine elfins and western pine elfins (Callophrys niphon and C. eryphon) (Cullina)
The Fourth Dimension: Time, growth, decay, renewal
  • A member of the Pinus longaeva species of the western United States, is recorded as having lived 4844 years (Wheeler Park, Nevada; Rocky Mountain Tree Research, Inc.).
  • Members of the Eastern Atlantic pines species have been known to live up to 1,000 years.
Healing Ethnobotanical Uses

The information provided below is intended for educational purposes only. Please contact your local licensed herbalists for safe and proper medicinal uses of this plant.

Native American Medicine

The Nations of the Adirondacks (meaning "tree eaters") ate the inner bark of White Pines (Pinus strobus) as one of their primary winter foods. During the first winter in the "New World", many colonists died of scurvey, caused by a severe lack of vitamin C. Native American's offered the recipe of pine needle tea. (Weed) Pine needles are now known to manufacture large concentrations of vitamins A and C. "It has been estimated that a cupful of strong pine needle tea has more vitamin C than the average lemon." (Vitale) Boiled mashed inner bark, and pine tar salve was used to heal injuries. Dried needles were placed in open jars to sweeten home environments. (Weed, Vitale)

Pine Essential Oil

Essential oil of pine is classified as a "middle note"; that is, its energetic effect is neither stimulating nor sedating, but rather it works to regulate and modify out of balance conditions. (Yuen) Applications include use on acupressure points and drops in hot water to create medicinal vapors. Pine oil is effective in treating diseases of the upper and lower respiratory tract, and for rheumatic and neuralgic ailments. (Blumenthal, American Botanical Council)

Current Scientific Research

The Agricultural Research Database notes the following area of research in uses of White Pine (Pinus strobus).

Antitussive
Burn
Demulcent
Diuretic
Dysentery
Expectoran
Itch
Laxative
Myalgia
Rheumatism
Swelling
Wound

Research now in process is investigating the use of stanol esters derived from pine trees to reduce total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol. (Herb Research Foundation, The Tan Sheet, June 5, 2000.)

Actions: Antiseptic, Decongestant, Disinfectant, Expectorant, Tonic

Recommended Species of the Pinaceae Family
Native Recommended Species
Short leaf Pine (Pinus echinata)
Table mountain Pine (Pinus pungens)
Red Pine (Pinus resinosa)
White Pine (Pinus strobus) 'Fastigiata': columnular upright variety, 20-30'
Virginia Pine (Pinus virginiana)

Non-native Recommended Species of the Pinaceae Family
There are a tremendous number of wonderful non-native pines. We recommend that you visit botanical gardens and arboreta to view their splendor, and make your selections. Two selections are:
Tanyosho Pine (Pinus densiflora)
'Umbraculifera': Very attractive evergreen displays shrub-like multi-trunked form with flat-topped umbrella-like head. Red- brown bark in youth and bright green needles are other features.

Plant Community of the Eastern White Pine: Appalachian Oak-Hickory Forest, Successional Northern Hardwoods

Appalachian Oak-Hickory Forest
Native Recommended Species
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Sugar Maple (Acer saccharinum)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
Black Birch (Betula lenta)
Gray Birch (Betula populifolia)
Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)
Flowering Dogwood (Corunus florida)
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
American Hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana)
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
White Oak (Quercus alba)
Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus)
Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra)
Black Oak (Quercus velutina)
Common Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
Black Birch (Betula lenta)
Gray Birch (Betula populifolia)
Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)
Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Green Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)
American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Common Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

 

Respect and Care: Elm

Tree of Respect and Care: Elm Family (Ulmaceae)

 

The American Elm (Ulmus americana) was once the street tree of choice in the United States. Majestic, vase-shaped, high branching patterns provide clearance for houses, trucks and utility lines. Reaching heights of up to 80 feet, the elm's high branches also create a beautiful canopy of dappled light that produces pleasurable walking paths, seating areas, and under-planting opportunities. The American Elm was also highly prized by early Native Americans for its medicinal and healing properties, as were European and Asian Elms prized for their related properties.

In the 1930s, Dutch elm disease appeared from the Netherlands in the mid western United States, and subsequently destroyed one-half to two-thirds of the American Elm tree population in the northeastern United States. The disease is caused by the fungus Ophiostoma ulmi (syn. Ceratocystis ulmi), which is transmitted by two species of bark beetles or by root grafting.

Visit the North Dakota State University Extension Service for more information on the Dutch Elm disease.

Healing Association
The American Elm is at once majestic and vulnerable. The Elm has earned our respect in many ways. Our great respect for this tree initiated a care-taking program over 50 years ago when Dutch Elm Disease struck with devastating impact. This program of care and nurturing has returned the elm to health through the identification and cross breeding of highly resistant progeny, including 'Liberty', 'Princeton', 'Valley Forge' and 'New Harmony' cultivars. The story of the recovery of the American Elm, the great effort of many to protect a national treasure, is a story of healing in process, through respect and active care. The Trees of Respect and Care remind us that recommitting to these values, especially in challenging circumstances, will help unify and strengthen our communities.

"The spirit of human solidarity and kinship with all life is strengthened when we live with reverence for the mystery of being, gratitude for the gift of life and humility regarding the human place in the nature."

Earth Charter 2002
United Nations

In response to September 11, many communities intuitively created places of sanctuary, where respect and care for life could be demonstrated. These places, often filled with flower offerings and candles, offered a way to show "reverence for life" over acts of "irreverence for life". Shortly thereafter, the desire to also show care for the natural world of life emerged. Many "Living Memorial" projects center on reclamation of degraded landscapes. The desire to respect and care for life includes the recognition of human connection to natural places.

Planting Requirements
Elms prefer most, fertile soil and sun. Proper care will also help prevent Dutch Elm disease. Forms resistant to Dutch Elm disease are available in many nurseries and from the Elm Research Institute in Keene, New Hampshire.

Uses in the Landscape

Structure
  • Magnificent arched allees define boundaries
  • Entrances and pathways in large spaces
  • Visual and auditory screen
  • Filtered shade for sun coverage
  • A grove for special community gatherings
  • The center of a labyrinth
  • A Welcoming Tree to mark a Gateway
Sensorial
  • Beautiful dappled light patterns
  • Sense of natural grandeur
  • Sounds from leaves rustling in wind and rain
Food and Habitat for Wildlife
  • Good nectar source for butterflies and bees
  • Important larval host for butterfly and moth caterpillars

Healing Ethnobotanical Uses
The information provided below is intended for educational purposes only. Please contact your local licensed herbalists for safe and proper medicinal uses of this plant.

Native American Medicine
Infusions and decoctions of American Elm inner bark were used by many tribes of Native Americans. Delaware and Algonkian Indians used Elm inner bark infusions for colds and severe coughs. Southeastern tribes used decoctions for as remedies for menstrual cramping, and the Northern Cheyenne Indians of Montana are recorded as using Elm as a gynecological aid to stabilize the child in the womb.

European Medicine
Supporting earlier recorded claims of the healing properties of the Elm by Dioscorides ( 40-90 AD, Greek physician of the Roman army) and Pliny (AD 23-79, Roman scholar), John Gerard, the 15th century English herbalist wrote, "The leaves of Elm glew and heale up green wounds. The decoction of Elm leaves healeth broken bones very speedily if they be bathed therewith."

Scientific Properties and Actions
Source: Bastyr College of Natural Medicine On-Line Database
  • Constituents: Mucilage, composed of galactose, 3-methyl galactose, rhamnose and galacturonic acid residues.
  • Actions: Demulcent, emollient, nutrient, astringent, anti-inflammatory, diuretic, nutritive.
Slippery Elm (Ulmus rubra)
Slipper Elm is the name of an herbal remedy that comes from the inner bark of the red elm tree. It is soothing and protective for mucosal tissue. The bark of this American Elm is an official drug of the United States Pharmacopoeia and is considered one of the most valuable remedies in herbal practice, the abundant mucilage it contains having wonderfully strengthening and healing qualities. (Grieve)

Native Elm Species
Sources: Cullina, Dirr, Heywood
Winged Elm (U. alata)
American, White, Grey, Water or Swamp Elm (U. americana)
Resistant cultivars: 'Liberty', 'Princeton', 'New Harmony', 'Valley Forge'
Rock Elm or Cork Elm (U. thomasii)
Slippery, Red or Moose Elm (U. rubra)
September or Red Elm (U. serotina) (Southern species)

Non-native elm species
Sources: Barnard, Dirr
Siberian Elm (U. pulmia)
Smoothleaf Elm (U. carpinifolia) (The most common elm in Europe)
Wych Elm (U. glabra)
Chinese or Lacebark Elm (U. parvifolia) (Pest resistant and tolerant of urban conditions)
English Elm (U. procera)
Dutch Elms (Ulums x hollandica)

The Elm's Community of Trees: Floodplains and Swamp Forests
Source: NRG
The Floodplain forest occurs in the lowlands of floodplains and river deltas. These areas flood annually in the Spring, and the higher areas are flooded irregularly. The photograph below depicts a willow tree (top center) in a lakeside forest context.

Other Trees of the Floodplain Forest
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
River Birch (Betula nigra)
Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Green Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)
Sweet Gum (Liquidamber styraciflua)
Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)
American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Cotttonwood (Populus deltoides)
Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
Black Willow (Salix nigra)
American Linden (Tilia americana)


Reflection: Birch

Tree of Reflection: Birch Family (Betulaceae)

Remarkable for its lightness, grace, and elegance, Coleridge named the Birch tree 'Lady of the Woods'. (Grieve) The Birches are cold-climate plants, among the first to populate soils uncovered by glacial retreat. Birches are hearty (and elegant) pioneers of new territory, preparing the way for longer-lived, hardwood species to create deep forests. The young branches are of a rich red brown or orange brown, and the trunks usually white, especially in the second species of B. alba, B. verrucosa. The Silver birch (B. verrucosa), is highly regarded in Russia and Siberia as an important medicinal for treating arthritis. (Brown, Herb Society of America)


Healing Association
The White Birch's trunk and silvery green leaves endow the tree with a surprising ability to move light in many ways. This tree can also be thought of as an ecological beacon, reflecting the longer-lived hardwood forests that will follow. The Trees of Reflection remind us that quiet, gentle and supporting gestures, too, have a powerful role in the individual and collective healing process.


Planting Requirements
Birches prefer moist, well-drained, slightly acidic soil, in sun or shade. B. pendula prefers sandy soils below pH 6.5, and dislikes shallow alkaline conditions. It is nevertheless extremely hardy and can tolerate dry conditions. Birches are fibrous-rooted (do not have a tap-root), so transplant fairly easily. (Cullina)


Uses in the Landscape

Structure
  • Visual and auditory screen
  • Provides filtered shade
  • As an allee, or simply along a path
  • As a grove
Sensorial
  • The European white birch (B. alba) has a striking white trunk. Consider contrasting this species in front of large evergreens, or use to bring light into dark spaces
  • River birch (B. nigra) and (B. papyifera) have highly textured peeling bark
  • Outstanding fall color (see photo at right)
  • Beautiful dappled light
  • Striking when illuminated from the below at night
  • Sounds from leaves rustling in wind and rain
  • Example from literature:
"The birch path is one of the prettiest places in the world." It was. Other people besides Anne thought so when they stumbled on it. It was a little narrow, twisting path, winding down over a long hill straight through Mr. Bell's woods, where light came down sifted through so many emerald screens that it was as flawless as the heart of a diamond. It was fringed in all its length with slim young birches, white-stemmed, and starflowers and wild lilies-of -the-valley and scarlet tufts of pigeon berries grew thickly along it; and always there was a delightful spiciness in the air and music of bird calls and the murmur and laugh of wood winds in the trees overhead."
Anne of Green Gables
L.M. Montgomery
(Quoted in Vitale)
Food and Habitat for Wildlife
  • Important to a host of insects including moths and butterflies
  • Seeds provide food for over-wintering birds: chickadees, juncos
  • Twigs provide good nesting sites and materials
  • Shrubby species are important food for rabbits, deer and elk
The Fourth Dimension: Time, growth, decay, renewal
  • Birches are considered a short-lived species with a life-span of up to 75 years.

Healing Ethnobotanical Uses
The information provided below is intended for educational purposes only. Please contact your local licensed herbalists for safe and proper medicinal uses of this plant.

Native American Medicine
Native Americans treated fevers, stomach upset, rheumatism, and other ailments with a tea made from the leaves and bark of sweet birch (B. lenta), and boiled the bark to make poultices for minor wounds. An oil made by distilling the bark of the sweet birch was traditionally used for bladder infections, rheumatism, gout and nerve pain. (Peirce, The American Pharmaceutical Association, 1999)

European Medicine
Leaves of the European white and silver birches (B.pendula, B. verrucosa) have long been used to remedy skin rashes, hair loss, rheumatic complaints, and conditions requiring that blood be "purified". Birch tar oil is used to treat chronic skin diseases. (Peirce)

Scientific Constituents and Actions
Source: Bastyr College of Natural Medicine On-Line Database

  • Constituents: Flavonoids, mainly hyperoside, with luteolin and quercetin glycosides.
  • Actions: Diuretic, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, tonic.
  • Indications: Birch leaves act as an effective remedy for cystitis and other infections of the urinary system as well as removing excess water from the body. Perhaps because of this cleansing diuretic activity, the plant has been used for gout, rheumatism and mild arthritic pain. The bark will ease muscle pain if it is applied externally, putting the fresh, wet internal side of the bark against the skin.
Current research exploring "Betulin" and "Betulinc Acid"
Source: Phytochemical and Ethnobotanical Databases of United States Department of Agriculture. Betulin and Betulinic acid have shown activity that inhibits skin cancer.
  • White Birch Bark (Betulin)
    Anticarcinomic; Antifeedant; Antiflu; Antiinflammatory; Antitumor; Antiviral; Aphidifuge; Cytotoxic; Hypolipemic; Prostaglandin-Synthesis-Inhibitor
  • Sweet Birch Bark -(Betulin and Betulinic Acid)
    Anticarcinomic ; AntiHIV; Antiinflammatory; Antimalarial; Antimelanomic ; Antiplasmodial; Antitumor; Antiviral; Cytotoxic; Prostaglandin-Synthesis-Inhibitor

Recommended Species of the Birch Family

Native Recommended Species
Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis)
Black Birch, Sweet Birch (B. lenta)
River Birch (B. nigra)
Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, White Birch (B. papyrifera)
Bog Birch (B. pumila)

Naturalized Recommended Species of the Birch Family
European White birch (Betula alba)

Native Birch Plant Community: Floodplain Forest, Red Maple-Hardwood Swamps, Successional Mixed Hardwoods
Source: NRG

Floodplain Forest
Native Recommended Species
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
River Birch (Betula nigra)
Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Green Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)
Sweet Gum (Liquidamber styraciflua)
Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)
American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Cotttonwood (Populus deltoides)
Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
Black Willow (Salix nigra)
American Linden (Tilia americana)

Red Maple-Hardwood Swamp
Native Recommended Species
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Sweet Gum (Liquidamber styraciflua)
Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)
American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)

Successional Mixed Hardwoods
Native Recommended Species
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
Black Birch (Betula lenta)
Gray Birch (Betula populifolia)
Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)
Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Green Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)
American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)
Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus)
Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)
Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides)
Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)
Common Sassafras (Sassafras albidum)

Remembrance: Willow

Tree of Remembrance: Willow Family (Salicaceae)

 

The willow is a tall, deciduous tree, growing 30-80 feet tall, with a 20-35 foot spread of graceful arching branches. Smaller branches are supple and flexible like reeds allowing small breezes to often set the entire tree in motion. Leaves are slender and oval-shaped. The downward arching form of the weeping willow (Salix babylonica) is the most dramatic weeping form of all the willows. Other willows too, however, can also take on this pendulous quality (Salix alba 'Tristis', and Salix pendulina 'Elegantissima'.

Healing Association
The downward habit of the willow branches gives the willow tree an association with the more gentle and inward aspect of the human emotions. In bringing our attention inward, the Trees of Remembrance remind us that grieving is a powerful attribute of the human species, and a vital step in the individual and collective healing processes. Grieving reminds us we are profoundly connected to one another. Remembrance allows us to stay connected to those we have cherished, and to continue to act with the power of our love and connection.

Habitat Stabilizer: Members of the genus, Poplar, also of the Salicaceae Family, have been described as "the great healers of the land that lies bleeding and torn, scoured or burned." (Cullina, p. 198) As healers, poplars are among the first species to move into a disturbed or degraded landscape. They stabilize habitats that will eventually give way to longer-lived, slower growing trees.

Rapid Growth: A species of Poplar, the Eastern Cottonwood, is the fastest growing native species in America, averaging growth in good conditions, of five feet in one season. Our ability to heal requires movement: an ability to move out of distress and into the flow of life again.

The Willows manufacture a medicinal compound for relieving pain, now used almost universally. In 1838, salicylic acid, the main active ingredient in willow bark, was isolated as a forerunner of aspirin. The chemical drug, aspirin was first produced in 1899. (Chevalier, p. 128). Willow leaves and bark have been used to alleviate pain across cultures for thousands of years. (See Ethnobonical Uses below.) The willow tree has made an immense contribution to our world through its role in the relief of pain. The Willows manufacture a hormone from which "rooting hormone" is derived. Before rooting hormone was available commercially, a twig of willow was put in water with the stem cutting of a plant one wished to propagate. The willow family, thus, is a great promoter of healing, in assisting movement and growing into life and change.

Planting Requirements
Moist or wet soils are the rule, and at least half a day's sun. Willows tolerate almost any soil, coarse sand to fine silt loams. PH 6.5-7.5. They are tolerant of compaction, but sensitive to pollution. Propagation of the willow can be as easy as plucking a stem, and placing it in a moist medium, upright like a little tree. The willow tree carries a hormone from which "rooting hormone" is derived. Landscape Caution: The roots of the willow tree can stray two to three times their dripline area, and can clog septic systems and storm drains.

Willow trees thrive by streams and rivers. One can often read the presence of water in a landscape from a distance by the noting populations of willow. It is possible too, that the running water aids the human ability to access our own wellspring emotion and tears.

"The fresh streams ran be her, and murmur'd her moans,
Sing willow, willow, willow; Her salt hears fell from her,
and soften'd the stones, Sing, willow, willow, willow."
Shakespeare Othello, Avt IV, sc. 3
A Short Story: Willows at the Museum of Jewish Heritage
"Not long before the first anniversary of September 11, I walked the promenade in Battery Park City, keeping in my thoughts the idea of memorial, and how it has historically been expressed. Is it always sorrow and grief that is being expressed, I wondered? Are there memorials that point a way to a more hopeful future? On approaching the Museum of Jewish Heritage, also called "A Living Memorial to the Holocaust", I saw large weeping willows planted in close proximity to the museum building, and behind them, tall swaying grasses. I felt a great tenderness in response to these willows. In a moment I understood that the power of grieving is in the recognition that we are profoundly connected to one another, and finally to all life. Grieving loss is the other side of joyfully celebrating connection. I felt awe in the ability of these trees, in this place and at this moment to connect me to other people, to feel anguish in loss, and tenderness in remembrance."

Uses in the Landscape

Structure
  • Performs well as riverine planting
  • Stabilizes watercourses
  • Serves as a visual and auditory screen
  • Smaller varieties can be used in rock gardens: dwarf willows, arctic and alpine willows

Sensorial
  • Brings a soft and flowing texture to the landscape
Food and Habitat for Wildlife
  • Leaves support the larvae of many moth and butterfly species.
  • The soft twigs of willow provide winter forage for small mammals.

Healing Ethnobotanical Uses
The information provided below is intended for educational purposes only. Please contact your local licensed herbalists for safe and proper medicinal uses of this plant.

Native American Medicine
Leaves of the native willows have been used in Native American traditional healing to reduce fevers and relieve pain associated with inflammation from arthritis, rheumatism, and headaches.

American Folk Culture
Healers recommended the stringent leaves to cure dysentery, control bleeding, and to treat eczema, gangrene, and cancerous sores. Peoples of the Appalachian Mountains used willow leaves and bark to break fevers and relieve pain of rheumatism, neuralgia, and gout.

Chinese Medicine
As early as 500 BCE, Chinese healers recommended willow to control pain.

European Medicine
The Greek physician, Dioscorides, claimed that the leaves of the willow stayed bleeding as in nosebleeds, alleviated deafness, were an affective contraceptive, and an excellent cure for gout. In the 19th century, the French Chemist, Leroux, extracted the active element, "salicine", and by 1899, the less irritating acetyl salicylic acid was manufactured and marketed as aspirin.

Scientific Properties and Actions
Source: Bastyr College of Natural Medicine On-Line Database

  • Constituents: · Phenolic glycosides; salicin, picein and triandrin, with esters of salicylic acid and salicyl alcohol, acetylated salicin, salicortin and salireposide
    · Miscellaneous; tannins, catechin, p-coumaric acid and flavonoids.
  • Actions: Analgesic (reducing pain), anti-inflammatory, tonic
Recommended Species of the Salicaceae Family: Willows, Aspens, Poplars

Native Willow Species
There are about 40 species native to North America
Sage Willow (S. candida)
Pussy Willow (S. discolor)
Coyote Willow, Sandbar Willow (S. exigua)
Snowbed Willow, Herb-like Willow (S. herbacea)
Shining Willow (S. lucida)

Native Poplar Species recommended for Eastern United States
Balsam Poplar (P. balsamifera)
Eastern Cottonwood (P. deltoides)
Quaking Aspen (P. tremuloides)

Willow Species from Europe
Crack Willow (Salix fragilis)
White Willow (Salix alba

Willow Species from Asia

Black Willow (S. melanostachys), Japan.
Weeping Willow (S. babylonica), China

The Willow's Community of Trees: Floodplain Forest
Source: NRG
The Floodplain forest occurs in the lowlands of floodplains and river deltas. These areas flood annually in the Spring, and the higher areas are flooded irregularly. The photograph below depicts a willow tree (top center) in a lakeside forest context.

Other Trees of the Floodplain Forest
Red Maple (Acer rubrum)
Silver Maple (Acer saccharinum)
River Birch (Betula nigra)
Common Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)
White Ash (Fraxinus americana)
Green Ash (Fraxinus pensylvanica)
Sweet Gum (Liquidamber styraciflua)
Black Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica)
American Sycamore (Platanus occidentalis)
Cotttonwood (Populus deltoides)
Swamp White Oak (Quercus bicolor)
Pin Oak (Quercus palustris)
Black Willow (Salix nigra)
American Linden (Tilia americana)

 

Renewal: Dawn Redwood

Tree of Renewal: Dawn Redwood (Taxodiaceae)
By Anne Wiesen

 

The Dawn Redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) is a deciduous conifer, with soft needle-like leaves that look like evergreens, but are bright green in Spring, brilliant orange/red in Fall, and are shed in the cold season of Winter. This tree was discovered first through 30-50 year old fossils uncovered in the early 1940's in Japan. Thought to have been extinct, living specimens of the Dawn Redwood were discovered in central China soon after the fossils were uncovered. (Dirr, Barnard) Known to systematic botanists as an ancient relative of the giant sequoia and redwoods of California, the species is estimated to be 100 million years old. After a 15 million-year period of absence on the North American continent (Dawn Redwoods are part of the California fossil collection), the Dawn Redwood renewed its place in the Plant Kingdom and in the United States, thriving today as a highly admired ornamental in the Northern Hemisphere.

Healing Association

All plants can be thought of as symbols of renewal. The Dawn Redwood was chosen, in part, because of the story of its remarkable recovery, and the equally remarkable welcome the tree receives from those who know its story. 1947 the Arnold Arboretum sponsored an expedition to collect and disperse seeds of the living Dawn Redwoods to botanical gardens and arboreta around the world. The Tree of Renewal suggests that it is always possible to renew our place in the world and resume a vital role in our communities.

Planting Requirements

The Dawn Redwood prefers full sun and moist-to-wet, well-drained soils. A large area is recommended to accommodate growth in height of 80 - 100 feet

Uses in the Landscape

Structure
  • Visual and auditory screen
  • A grove for special community gatherings
Sensorial
  • Sense of natural grandeur
  • Provides a strong sense of symmetry and order due to unusually straight lines of trunk
  • Soft needles
  • Reddish brown fissured bark
  • Strong Spring, Summer and Fall (orange to red) colored foliage

Healing Ethnobotanical Uses

The living history of the Dawn Redwood starts in the early 1940's. Having been discovered so recently, the ethnobotanical uses of this tree beyond its place as a striking ornamental, and a symbolic Tree of Renewal, is yet to be determined.