Wolf Trees, Medicinal Yews and Winter Cottonwoods

Wolf Trees

The simplest definition of a wolf tree is as follows: a very large forest tree that has a wide-spreading crown and inhibits or prevents the growth of smaller trees around it. Having said that, there is so much more to the amazing beauty and complexity of these enormous beings.

“And yes, all these years later, there’s still something beautiful in these gnarled old forms. There is no symmetry, no youthfulness, but there is a sense of history and mystery, of stories from another time and stories yet to be told. These charismatic old trees witnessed the return of the forest. They remind us that the story of this landscape, and the animals on it, is still unfolding.” From A Place for Wolf Trees.

For a great article on the value of wolf trees and some amazing photos of northeastern wolf trees, check out this link to A Place For Wolf Trees.

The Pacific Yew Tree

It is so easy to walk by it. I have, many times. But this spring, I plan to harvest the growing tips and really value this medicinal tree that grows side by side with more captivating trees.

The Pacific Yew tree (Taxus brevifolia), is found exclusively in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. The Pacific Yew contains taxanes, naturally occurring compounds scientifically proven to suppress abnormal cell growth and invigorate the immune system.

Taxanes are one of the most promising of more than 120,000 plant compounds tested for anti-cancer properties. Research shows that the Pacific Yew is a rich source of beneficial phyto-chemicals (plant compounds and phytosterols) that are known to be health promoting. These constituents are concentrated in the branch tips during the growing season which is the harvesting period. Compounds include; taxanes (also known as diterpenes), which are unique to the Pacific Yew tree, lignans (lariciresinol and taxiresinol), which have been found to exert significant antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral and anti-inflammatory activities, flavonoids (quercitin, rhamnetin, sciadopitysin), recognized for anti-inflammatory, anti-allergenic, antiviral and antibacterial properties.

The ancient Pacific Yew tree was a valuable source of traditional medicine for Native Americans and pioneers of the Pacific Northwest . Medicines were made from various parts of the Yew tree and included tea, made from leaves and bark.” Information from: http://www.yohimbebark.net/immune.html

Winter Cottonwoods

On another note, this last summer, I was captivated by the floating cotton of the Fairbanks cottonwoods. It was truly magical. This January, I took a trip to visit my 88 year old and failing mom in Albuquerque. It was a lonely and taxing trip. But my eye was repeatedly delighted by the elegance of the winter cottonwoods.  The southwestern colors and the negative spaces of these gorgeous trees gave me beauty to balance the stuffy air of the assisted living home. I am in gratitude for their existence on this planet.


One comment on “Wolf Trees, Medicinal Yews and Winter Cottonwoods

  1. RR says:

    Shann, are you around at home in the next weeks? Might be heading your way… Remy Roddenrrnorthboy@gmail.com

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