Medicinal Plants Tree Photographs taken at Russell Cave National Monument Bridgeport, Alabama
Native American doctors, called medicine men, used trees, flowers, and other plant parts to cure sicknesses. These plants are called medicinal plants.
Although most doctors today do not prescribe medicinal plants, these plants still grow all around us today.
Basswood Tree Medicine men boiled the leaves of this tree to make a special tea that helped treat stomach and headaches. This Basswood has two trunks coming out of one tree!
Have you seen a Basswood? • Basswood trees are large with drooping branches. • Its leaves are large and round with sawed edges and a pointy tip.
Tulip Poplar Tree This tree’s bark was boiled to make a tea to treat a fever and cough.
Have you seen a Tulip Poplar? • The Tulip Poplar is one of the tallest trees in North America. • Its leaves are square-shaped with four or six rounded tips. • In Spring, it grows large beautiful flowers that look like tulips or lilies.
Red Maple Tree Cough syrup was made from this tree’s sweet sap (watery juices that flow inside trees).
Have you seen a Red Maple? • Red Maple leaves are long and wide with three shallow short pointed ends. • In Autumn, the leaves turn a beautiful red, orange, or yellow. This Red Maple is starting to turn red at the stem. By autumn, the entire leaf will be red!
Sourwood Tree When Native Americans had mouth sores, they would chew this tree’s leaves to ease the pain.
Have you seen a Sourwood? • Sourwood trees have tall and rounded branches. • Its yellow-green leaves grow to be long and skinny with smooth edges. • Deer love to munch on these leaves, twigs, and flowers.
Sweetgum Tree The bark of this tree was heated and used for cuts and bruises. It was also used to make bubble gum.
Have you seen a Sweetgum? • Sweetgum trees are large with a straight trunk. • Its leaves are star-shaped with five or seven points. • It grows a prickly, brown, ball-shaped fruit and winged seeds.
Chestnut Oak Tree Native Americans boiled oak tree leaves for respiratory problems such as bronchitis, asthma, and cough.
Have you seen a Chestnut Oak? • The Chestnut Oak is most easily identified by its bumpy, gray-brown bark. • Chestnut Oaks grow medium-sized leaves that have jagged edges. • It produces acorns which attract many animals such as squirrels.
Black Walnut Instead of going to the dentist, Native Americans chewed this tree’s bark when they had a toothache.
Have you seen a Black Walnut? The black walnut tree typically has dark brown bark with deep ridges. Its long pointed leaves have saw-like edges with soft hairs underneath. This tree grows plum-sized, green or brown fruit with an edible seed inside of it.
You may find some of these trees close to where you live; however, it is not safe for you to eat plants from the wild. Some plants are poisonous and if you accidentally eat or touch the wrong plant you could be in danger. Talk to an park ranger about your findings and visit a doctor if you are sick.