Tamarack

Tamarack
Common Names: larch

Latin: Larix laricina
Uses: medicine and fuel

The tamarack tree grows in wet boggy areas and is found sporadically throughout the Gwich’in Settlement Region. Many treats grow along the Dempster Highway between Inuvik and Tsiigehtchic. Unlike other coniferous trees, tamarack needles turn yellowish-orange in autumn and then drop off. Tamarack needles occur in small clusters along the branch, whereas spruce needles occur singly.
The branches and cones can be collected year round. People should leave an offering when collecting any part of a tamarack tree. Caroline Andre of Tsiigehtchic said, “this is real good medicine. They say you have to pay for it, leave sugar or tea behind.”
Tamarack tea is good for upset stomachs, colds, fatigue, or for general good health. It is made by cutting tamarack branches into 15 centimeter (six inches) lengths, and boiling gently for five to 10 minutes, adding water as it evaporates. One can also add spruce gum to the tamarack stems and boil to make a stronger medicine. Mary Kendi of Fort McPherson makes her special medicine by adding cut up pieces of birch fungus to the tamarack stems and boiling.
Tea made from tamarack cones is good for soothing colds and alleviating heachaches. Only four or five cones are needed.
Dry tamarack wood produces a lot of heat when burned.

- pg. 23, Gwich'In Ethnobotany: Plants Used by the Gwich'In for Food, Medicine, Shelter and Tools by Alestine Andre and Alan Fehr (2002)

Related Reading:

Tamarack in the Fall
Tamarack Cone
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