Mt. Nusatsum

Mt. Nusatsum

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cottonwood - Sticky Buds

If you've ever handled a cottonwood tree this time of year you probably have cursed them.  For the last few weeks the buds of the black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa) have gradually become more and more 'sticky'.  This week the buds are starting to burst, the scales will fall away and then basically the young leaves are out.  The stickiness is a resin that has a very aromatic unique smell that you can actually grow to like after your hands have been covered in it for awhile and you start smelling it wherever you go.  The sticky resin is slightly yellow or reddish and very sticky (it can really mess your car up if you leave one parked under a cottonwood this time of year).

Cottonwood buds and the resin is used in many places to make what is referred to as "Balm of Gilead".  A lady in Bella Coola used to make a lovely cottonwood cream in a beeswax base, that my wife swore by for any sort of skin ailments.  The buds and resin of cottonwoods are said to have many medicinal properties and uses by people and even other animals such as bees use it for an anti-infectant in their hives.

It will only take a couple of moderately warm days now and most of the cottonwood buds will be bursting and the leaves out

It was a pleasant day in the Bella Coola Valley, very high and thin cloud that a fair bit of sun got through and a high temperature of 16 C with no wind to speak of.  Don't forget to move your car if it is parked where cottonwood scales might fall on it.  Grizzly

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