Posts Tagged ‘Tamarack’


The tamaracks that were barely noticeable in the forest all year long now take centre stage. 

small color wheelTheir soft, burnt orange needles provide a bright contrast to the clear blue sky.  Being complementary colours  (set opposite one another on the colour wheel), orange and blue look especially vibrant together in the autumn landscape.

Tamaracks don’t mind wet, boggy soil.  Their Ojibway name, muckigwatig, means ‘swamp tree.’  They thrive in Cow Bay wherever there is little competition for sunshine with other trees.  These deciduous conifers are tolerant of extreme cold.  Their delicate appearance often enhances residential landscapes in northern regions.

tamarack needles in fall

The inner bark of tamaracks is edible and has many medicinal uses among Native Americans, among them, treating burns, wounds, inflammations and headaches.   It’s also a favourite of porcupines. 

Along Bissett Road, which has extensive stands of tamaracks on both sides, it’s no wonder that porcupines are a frequent item on the roadkill café menu.  I’ve crossed paths with them twice in as many weeks, but both times managed to see these slow walkers in time to yield. 

bissett road

It won’t be long before the tamaracks shed their needles for the winter and once again fade into the background of the forest.  But for now, it’s tamarack time.

For more information about tamarack trees, see The Last of Autumn’s Leaves and Needles

Receive by email or subscribe in a reader



Read Full Post »


High vet bills for quill extraction were a huge incentive for me to learn how to spot porcupines before my dog did.  On walks in the woods, my eyes became extra keen at finding baby porcupines on the ground.  Their tiny quills are especially difficult to remove from a dog’s mouth.

porcupinetreeAs I no longer have a dog, I’m not on the lookout for porcupines as much as I used to be while walking in the woods.  However, it’s pretty hard to miss this fresh evidence of their activity just behind my home:  fresh bark chips on the ground  below a girdled trunk.  Unfortunately, the Balsam Fir at left will die because its bark has been nibbled all around the circumference.

Porcupines breed in autumn and give birth to one baby in the spring.  Within a week this little pincushion is already chewing on the inner bark of trees.  Favorites are softwood trees and the twigs on birch.  Tamarack trees are considered especially tasty. 

Porcupines are also attracted to the salt left on wooden tools that are handled by humans with sweaty hands.  The salt on roads also attracts them to highways, making them a frequent item on the roadkill menu.  They are slow movers and consequently an easy target on the ground.

The last time I saw a porcupine was last fall along the Salt Marsh Trail.  It was mid morning and three of them were dozing, each on separate limbs up in an apple tree, right next to the trail.  Mostly nocturnal creatures, they had probably snacked on apples the night before.

Porcupine and Birchbark Quill Box

Porcupine and Birchbark Quill Box

Before Europeans settled here in the 1700s, the Cow Bay area was considered a prime summer hunting and fishing spot for the Mi’kmaq tribe.  Considering the number of porcupines in this neck of the woods, it’s no surprise that the Mi’kmaq are a people known for their artistry with quills.





Receive by email or subscribe in a reader

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: