Plant Species

Rocky Mountain House is a hotspot for some iconic Canadian native plant species:

Arctostaphylos uva-ursi

Kinnikinik/Common Bearberry

Identification Shrub. Dense, low-lying plant grows in dry, sandy soil. Leaves are leathery and dark green in colour. Small white-pink flowers have an urceolate shape. Kinnikinik has red berry-like seeds.

Uses A tea can be made from the leaves and berries to heal sore gums and cankers. A cream can also be made from the berries for skin irritations. The leaves the plant can be mixed with tobacco and then smoked, by the First Nations.

Common Bearberry

Salix spp.

Willow

Identification Shrub. Many different species of willow grow along stream banks, in wet, sandy soil. The branches bend easily and the plant has catkins for reproduction.

Uses The branches may be used to build dome-shaped sweatlodges or steam-baths, that would be covered with bison robes or blankets. The doors would face the East and West directions for the rising and setting sun. The steam in the sweatlodges is made by pouring hot water onto rocks.

Willow

Achillea millefolium

Yarrow/Milfoil

Identification Herbaceous. Grows in poor soil conditions. Fern-like leaves. Bunch of small white flowers at top of stem.

Uses The leaves may be dried and used as tea. Yarrow tea isconsidered a diuretic and was used to remedy many ailments, such as upset stomach, swelling, sore throat, sores, flushing the liver, and an eyewash.

Yarrow/Milfoil

Rosa acicularis

Prickly Rose/Alberta Rose

Identification Shrub. Thorns cover the stem. Pink flowers in early June. Rose hips contain seeds.

Uses Tea may be made from dried rose hip fruit. Rose tea is high in vitamin C and was drunk by fur traders and First Nations people.

Prickly Rose/Alberta Rose

Hierochloe odorata

Sweetgrass

Identification Grass. Found in moist soil areas. Panicle inflorescence. Sweet odor when crushed. Long, pointed leaves.

Uses First Nations smoulder braided sweetgrass during smudgings, ceremonies, and prayer.

Sweetgrass

Elaeagnus commutata

Wolf Willow/Silverberry

Identification Shrub. Found in moist soil conditions. Leaves and stem with metallic hue due to overlapping scales. Yellow, 4 petal flowers at base of leaves. White berry-like seeds.

Uses Seeds of the silverberry were strung as beads by First Nations. The bark may also be braided into rope to be used in a winter game; the rope is spun around a rock and then whipped off so that the rock spins on the ice like a top.

Wolf Willow/Silverberry

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Confluence Heritage Society

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