Saturday, April 30, 2016

Native Medicinal and Poisonous Plants of British Columbia

Trees and shrubs : food, medicinal, and poisonous plants of British Columbia
 by James R. Anderson. --   British Columbia. Dept. of Education

Page 134

Native Medicinal and Poisonous Plants

The following are those plants which either have come under my notice through their reputation amongst the natives or are well known to have qualities attributed to them.  In the first instance, there is no doubt plenty of room to allow of considerable latitude in the supposed qualities with which there are credited; nevertheless, we may reasonably suppose that long experience has proved the efficacy of many of the samples used by the natives, and in some degree has justified the faith placed in the remedies and in those whose business it was to recommend their use.  This latter, of course, goes a long way towards establishing belief in their healing properties.  As regards poisonous plants, those having that property attributed to them by the natives have long been proved to bear the qualities  they are credited with, and whilst their use was not frequently required or made available for unlawful practices, they were occasionally used for suicidal purposes.

In addition, there are many plants which may be classed as suspects and are often accused of causing the loss of live stock, and these I shall refer to in a general way.

Paison; Death Camas
False Solomon's Seal
False Hellebore
Cowbane or Water-hemlock, Water-parsnip, and Poison-hemlock
Fireweed; Great Willow-herb
Western Larch; Tamarack
Cow-parsnip and Hog-fennel
Rattlesnake Plantain
Broad-leaved Laurel
Barberry; Oregon Grape
Poison-oak; Poison-ivy
Black Nightshade
Poisonous Mushrooms

Page 150

Rattlesnake Plantain

Goodyera Menziesii, Lindl.; Peramiumdecipiens, * Piper.

A low-growing plant with beautiful mottled leaves and a spike of inconspicuous greenish-white flowers, belonging to the Orchid family.  It is abundant in the fir woods in the vicinity of Victoria and general throughout many parts of the Province.  On Queen Charlotte Islands (Haida Gwaii) there is a variety with longer leaves and not so beautifully mottled as the first named.  The leaf, if crushed with a sidewise motion between the thumb and forefinger, divides, and is used as an application for cuts and bruises, the raw side of the leaf being laid next to the wound.

Page 152


Apocynum androsamifolium, * L., and A. cannabinum, L.

Both are common plants in the Province.  A quantity of white milky juice is exuded when the plant is broken.  This juice, when collected, forms a perfect INDIA-RUBBER.  It is reported to be poisonous to stock, but is rarely eaten as it is not enticing.  A good fibre is made from the stalks by some of the natives.


Acontium columbianum, Nutt.

A handsome plant occurring in the high mountains of the Interior.  It is poisonous to stock, but as it only occurs in high regions, little or no harm need be anticipated.

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Esquisetum spp.

It has been reported to me as poisonous to horses in the East, and similar reports have come from England.  Experience in this country is not confirmatory of these reports;  the Horse-tail, or, as it is called by the French-Canadians, "Prele," used to be considered excellent horse-feed, and when possible the Hudson's By Company's brigades were halted where it was abundant.  "The plant, if deleterious, is evidently so only on account of its harsh scouring action in the mouth and intestinal tract," is the verdict of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Poisonous Mushrooms.

Amanita muscaria, L.; A. phalloides, Fr.

Their poisonous nature is too well known to need description.  A case which was reported to me from near Kamloops of the loss of valuable horses from apparent poisoning resulted in the making a personal investigation on the range, and the only plant which seemed at all likely to have caused the loss was a Mushroom apparently of the poisonous variety, the symptoms resembling those produced by phallin.  Inquiries led to the discovery that goats had been poisoned in Oregon from eating so-called Toadstools.  Cows also have been poisoned by the same cause in the United States.

Our forests and their protection

(Contributed by the Forestry Branch of the Department of Lands, Victoria, B.C.)

A Tree

A tree may be described as the noblest example of plant-life.  It may be more particularly described as a woody plant growing up from the ground usually with a single stem.  Numerous branches are produced at both ends of this stem, those at the base penetrating the ground and forming an anchor for the tree, while those at the top form a crown in which develop leaves and flowers where they can secure air and sunlight  required for their growth.

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