Forest

OUR INDIGENOUS PLANTS

This page contains information on some of the indigenous plants that can be found around the LeRay Mansion and its grounds. Some of these plants have been used in traditional American Indian medical practices, including by our Haudenosaunee neighbors. Aside from medical uses, some of these plants can be used for other purposes, such as construction and weaving. Below, you will find the names of these plants and some of their uses in traditional medicinal practice. 

Disclaimer: This page does not provide medical advice. The information, including pictures and text, on this website are for information purposes only. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment. Do not attempt to treat any medical condition based on any information provided on this site. 

TREES

 
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Balsam Fir

Abies balsamea

Christmas tree

Used to treat rheumatism, typhoid fever, capillary bronchitis, asthma, jaundice, coughs, cuts, colds, and sores. 

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Beech

Fagus sylvatica

European beech,

beechnut tree

Used to treat stomach, kidney, and liver issues, as well as dysentery, headaches, and vertigo. Also used to clean cuts, sores, swelling, and skin diseases. 

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Birch

Abies balsamea

White birch, cherry birch, sweet birch, mountain mahogany, spice birch

Used to treat dysentery, cholera, rheumatism, and kidney stones. Used as an antifungal, antibacterial, antimicrobial, and antioxidant. Also used as a waterproofing material in the construction of food caches, baskets, lodges, and canoes. 

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Black Walnut

Juglans nigra

Black walnut

Used to treat ringworm, morning sickness, acne, headaches, survey, and arthritis. 

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Cherry

Prunus virginiana

Wild black cherry, chokecherry

Used to treat coughs, indigestion, bronchitis, consumption, and heart palpitations. Used in prenatal care and for wounds. 

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Chestnut

Castanea dentata

American chestnut, Spanish chestnut, sweet chestnut

Used to treat coughs, whooping cough, fevers, and hiccups. 

*NOT horse chestnuts. 

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Juniper

Juniperus communis

Common juniper, low juniper, pasture juniper

Used to treat coughs and colds, arthritis, rheumatism, and as a purifier

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Maple 

Acer rebrum

Red maple, soft maple, scarlet maple, swamp maple

Used to treat sore eyes. Also used for the creation of syrup and as a hardwood in construction. 

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Oak

Quercus robur

English oak, tanner's bark

Used to treat sinus congestion, post-nasal drip, sore throats, boils, sores, inflammation, sores, insect bites, fevers, arthritis, indigestion, asthma, and colds. Also used in food and bread and as bait for fish traps. 

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Slippery Elm

Ulmus rubra

Red elm, American elm, moose elm

Used to treat hydrophobia, insomnia, fevers, and poisonous snake and insect bites. 

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Tamarack

Larix laricina

American larch, black larch, hackmatack, salisb

Used to treat liver or spleen trouble, rheumatism, bronchitis, asthma, earaches, sores, and poisonous insect bites. 

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White Pine

Pinus strobus

Eastern white pine, soft pine

Used to treat sore throats, colds, rheumatism, tuberculosis, influenza, tonsillitis, coughs, as an ointment for cuts and wounds, and for drawing out thorns and splinters. Pine needles used for sewing, resin used as a cement. Nuts used as food. 

FLOWERING PLANTS

 
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Bitterroot

Apocynum androsaemifolium

Dogbane, milkweed

Used to treat jaundice, nausea, vomiting, some liver conditions, and cured poisons and mad dog bites. 

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Black Cohosh

Cimicifuga racemosa

Bugbane, rattleroot, snakeroot, black snakeroot

Used to treat bronchitis, rheumatism, scarlet fever, measles, small pox, whooping cough, as a cold remedy, sedative, and antidote for snakebites. 

*Toxic in large doses. 

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Bloodroot

Sanguinaria canadensid

Red puccoon, tetterwort, sanguinaria

Used to treat bronchitis, laryngitis, croup, asthma, whooping cough, and other respiratory conditions. Also treated cuts and wounds, poison ivy, sores, skin infections, and ulcers. Used as a skin stain and dye. 

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Blue Flag Iris

Iris versicolor

Flag lily, liver lily, water flag, snake lily, flower de-luce

Used to treat blood diseases, hip disease, diabetes, eczema, headaches, migraines, and vomiting.

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Boneset

Eupatorium perfoliatum

Thorough-wort

Used to treat headaches, stomach pains, broken bones, typhoid, fevers, colds, and pneumonia. 

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Burdock

Arctium lappa

Lappa minor, thorny burr, beggar's buttons

Used to treat boils, sores, rheumatism, sciatica, fevers, burns, aches, bunions, eczema, ringworm, bee stings, acne, earaches, and bruises. 

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Catnip

Nepeta cataria

Catmint, cat's wort

Used to treat digestive pain, colds, headaches, scarlet fever, smallpox, fevers, and sore throat. 

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Cattails

Typha latifolia

Common cat tail, broad leaf cat tail

Used to treat sprains, cysts, wounds, boils, burns, skin infections, and stomach issues.

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Chamomile

Chamaemelum nobile

German chamomile, garden chamomile, ground apple, pinheads

Used to treat colds, stomach pains, colic, earaches, restlessness, measles, and irritable stomach. 

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Chickweed

Stellaria media

Switchwort, scarwort, satin flower, adder's mouth, starweed

Used to treat internal inflammation, bronchitis, coughs, colds, hoarseness, rheumatism, boils, swelling, scabs, boils, and sores. 

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Comfrey

Symphytum officinale

Gum plant, healing herb, knit bone, nipbone

Used to treat coughs, consumption, most afflictions of the lung, arthritis, gallstones, asthma, anemia, swelling, burns, bruises, and sprains. 

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Crampbark

Viburnum opulus

High cranberry, snowball tree, guelder rose, grouseberry

Used to treat cramps and spasms, scarlet fever, headaches, typhoid, and fever. 

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Dandelion

Taraxacum officinale

Cankerwort, lion's tooth, wild endive

Used to treat skin diseases, scurvy, eczema, anemia, diabetes, headaches, jaundice, and typhoid.

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Echinacea

Echinacea angustifolia

Purple coneflower, black sampson

Used to treat septic infections, typhoid fever, snakebites, bites from rabid animals, fever, gangrene, poisoned wounds, deep cuts and wounds, burns, sores, sore throats, coughs, colds, and sore muscles.

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Feverfew

Chrysanthemum parthenium

Feather few, febrifuge plant, featherfoil, pyrethum

Used to treat dizziness, tension, indigestion, colds, colic, fevers, congestion, and inflammation of the lungs. 

Abstract Sand

Fiddlehead Fern

Matteuccia spp. 

Fiddlehead fern

Used to treat burns, wounds, cuts, bleeding, influenza, whooping cough, arthritis, fevers, snake bites, and sore throats. Also used as an antimicrobial, antiseptic, and eaten as food. 

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Golden Rod

Solidago canadensis

Canada golden-rod, common goldenrod

Used as an emetic for gall.

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Goldenseal

Hydrastis canadensis

Yellow puccoon, ground raspberry, turmeric root, yellow root, orange root. 

Used to treat ulcers, arrow wounds, congestion, colds, scarlet fever, smallpox, asthma, cancer, lupus, sciatica, earache, whooping cough, and tuberculosis. Used as a clothing dye.

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Hyssop

Hyssopus officinalis

Hyssop

Used to treat sore throat, asthma, colds, chest affections, jaundice, epilepsy, and bruises.

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Joe Pye Weed

Eupatorium maculatum

Spotted Joe Pye weed, sweet Joe Pye weed, Green-stemmed Joe Pye weed

Used to treat consumption, fever, liver problems, and recovery from childbirth.

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Milkweed

Asclepias syriaca

Emetic root, snake milk

Used to treat asthma, bronchitis, fever, hay fever, headache, indigestion, influenza, bee stings, cuts, warts, and coughs. Also used to make string and to stuff pillows and sleeping pads.

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Mullein

Verbascum blattaria

Moth mullein, verbascum flowers, woolen blanket herb, cow's lungwort, velvet leaf, Mule's ear

Used to treat coughs, colds, shortness of breath, asthma, toothaches, earaches, swelling, and sores. 

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Nettle

Urtica dioica

Great stinging nettle, great nettle

Used to treat arthritis, bee stings, burns, dysentery, vertigo, whooping cough, fevers, upset stomach, hives, and rashes. Also used as string for bows, nets, baskets, ropes, and twine. 

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Plantain

Plantago major

Broad-leaved plantain, ripple grass

Used to treat the bites of poisonous snakes and insects, wounds, burns, eczema, sores, fever, bruises, sore joints, swelling, and arthritis.

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Red Osier

Cornus sericea

Red dogwood, American dogwood

Used to treat bloody noses, coughs, headaches, chest pains, colds, sore eyes, and sore throat. Also used for tanning hides, arrows, and to kill snakes.

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Sage

Salvia officinalis

Garden sage, wild sage

Used to treat fevers, ulcers, lesions, sore throat, wounds, dandruff, and coughs.

Abstract Sand

Skullcap

Scutellaria laterifolia

Blue skullcap, blue pimpernel,  mad-dog weed, side flower, skullcap helmet flower, 

Used to treat insomnia, epilepsy, the bites of poisonous snakes and insects, and fevers.

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Snakeroot

Cimicifuga racemosa

Black snakeroot, black cocosh

Used to treat lacerations, rheumatism, and arthritis.

Abstract Sand

Solomon's Seal

Polygonatum commutatum

Drop berry, sealwort, seal root

Used to treat broken bones, inflammation of the stomach and intestines, itching, and sore eyes.

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Sumac

Rhus glabra

Smooth sumac, scarlet sumac, mountain sumac

Used to treat skin diseases, malaria, fevers, canker sores, consumption, coughs, phlegm, measles, bruises, swelling, colds, and whooping cough. 

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Sunflower

Helianthus annuus

Sunflower

Used to treat snake bites, rheumatism, inflammation, coughs, bronchitis, sore throat, and consumption. Also eaten and used as a hair tonic.

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Thistle

Cirsium discolor

Field thistle, bull thistle, common thistle

Used to treat boils, burns, sore jaws, stomach aches, chills, and fevers. Also eaten. 

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Vervain

Verbena

Verbena, vervain

Used to treat colds, insomnia, stress, nasal congestion, coughs, sprains, and toothaches.

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Vetch

Vicia americana

American or purple vetch, tare, common vetch, spring vetch

Used to treat paralysis of the eye.

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Wild Carrot

Daucus carota

Bird's nest, Queen Anne's lace, devil's plague

Used to treat colic, liver conditions, kidney diseases, and wounds.

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Witch Hazel

Hamamelis virginiana

Spotted adler, snapping hazel nut, winter bloom

Used to treat irritations, internal bleeding, varicose veins, colds, arthritis, and asthma. 

MISCELLANEOUS

 
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Blackberry

Rubus villosus

Dewberry, bramble berry, gout berry

Used to treat cholera, fevers, sore throat, coughing, colds, tuberculosis, whooping cough, toothache, anemia, and minor bleeding. Also used as food and for its Vitamin C and antioxidant properties.

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Horsetail

Equisetum arvense

Shave grass, bottle brush, pewter wort

Used to treat skin disorders, diabetes, rheumatism, joint aches, headaches, cuts, burns, poison ivy, colds, coughs, and lice. Also used as a substitute for sandpaper to polish wood carvings, hunting bows, and arrows, as well as for weaving mats and baskets. 

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May Apple

Podophyllum pelatum

May-apple, wild mandrake, ground lemon

Used to treat sore shoulders in horses. Used as a laxative.

*The root of this plant is poisonous. 

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Raspberry

Rubus idaeus

American raspberry, wild red raspberry

Used to treat canker sores, sore throat, cramps, and whooping cough.

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Strawberry

Fragaria vesca

Strawberry

Used to treat eczema, night sweats, stroke, canker sores, arthritis, and to disinfect open wounds.

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Wild Ginger

Asarum canadense

Canada snake root, Vermont snake root

Treated colds, whooping cough, fevers, headaches, typhoid, and boils. 

The information on the medical uses of these plants comes from the following three sources:

Herrick, James W. 1995. Iroquios Medical Botany. edited by Dean Snow. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.

Hutchens, Alma R. 1992. A Handbook of Native American Herbs. Boulder, CO: Shambhala Publications.

Salmón, Enrique. 2020. Iwígara The Kinship of Plants and People. Portland, OR: Timber Press.

The photos used on this page are from Wikimedia Commons and fall under public domain.