Oak – There are hundreds of species of oaks all around the northern hemisphere in all types of habitat. Oaks are used for their durable wood, desirable ornamental qualities and edible acorns (for wildlife, at least). Indigenous peoples relied heavily on acorns as a staple food source when properly processed. The bitter properties in acorns are tannins which are useful medicinally as an astringent to staunch bleeding, as an antiseptic wash and to strengthen bleeding gums. The most concentrated tannins are found in oak bark, acorn caps and galls (round growths formed around the larvae of tiny wasps).
Elm – The are several species of elm in North America, most notably the slippery elm for medicinal purposes. The powdered inner bark is the part we are after for its mucilaginous, demulcent and nutritive properties. When water is added it forms a soothing gel for raw or inflamed tissues, having even been used as a nose snuff for sinusitis. Elms are also wonderful fodder for livestock.
Prickly Ash – Also known as tickle tongue or toothache tree, it is not an ash but is actually related to citrus. The outer peel of the berries are used as a culinary spice called sichuan pepper. The root bark and berries are medicinal as a stimulating tonic and can be chewed to relieve a toothache.
Willow – Black willow is our most common North American species. It is sometimes used for basketry and an excellent grazing forage. Medicinally the root bark was once used as a substitute for the antimalarial quinine and produces the finest medicinal charcoal. The bark contains salicylic acid with properties similar to aspirin.