..The Intuitive Times
Connecting With Nature


A Christmas Tree and More

by Barry King

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To many, a real Christmas trees is as important to the Christmas holidays as candy canes and Santa Claus. The Balsam Tree, because of the persistence of its needles, has always been a favorite choice. It is also pleasantly aromatic unlike the "cat" spruce which has a very unpleasant smell not unlike cat urine from which it gets its nickname.

Few realize that the tree they have just brought home to brighten up their Christmas has been utilized for a multitude of other purposes by people throughout history. In the past, a lost traveller could turn to this tree for emergency food. The sap, which collects in blisters, is a concentrated food and the cambium layer ( inner sappy bark) has been collected and ground up during war time to extend flour supplies.

The strong smelling resin of Balsam Fir was included in the 1868 list of Canadian Medicinal Plants. To remedy a bronchial cold a plaster was made of the resin and applied to the chest. It was also taken internally as a tea which was reportedly used against colds, afflictions of the urinary tract and ulcerations of the bowels.

The aboriginals used the resin externally as an important ingredient of healing salves for treating cuts, wounds and burns. The Malecite Indians of New Brunswick used the Balsam resin effectively as an application for treatment of frozen limbs.

The Balsam Fir has also been used by industry in the production of turpentine, and the sticky sap or resin has long been used by scientist as a cement for their microscope slides.

The Balsam Fir is just one of the many useful and fascinating plants you can find in the forest. Next time you see one in the forest or in your living room keep in mind that the Christmas Tree is much more than it as first appears to be.


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