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Next to spruce trees, several species of pine trees have also adapted well to life in the northwest boreal forest. One type of pine tree named gane or gani by the Chipewyan, ōskāhtak or oskatik by the Cree, or kohe h by the Slave was called jack pine in English. Jack pine favours sandy or rocky soils, and grows throughout boreal forest areas that have these conditions. Typically, jack pines grow to about twenty metres high, and will grow tall and straight in dense stands, or bent and twisted when out in open. An evergreen coniferous tree, the jack pine has needle shaped leaves that grow in pairs to about two to five centimetres long. Its bark is reddish brown, and it flakes as the tree ages.

The lodgepole pine has the distinction of being Alberta’s Provincial Tree. It derives its name from the use of the tree’s long, straight trunk to make supporting poles for Aboriginal tepees or lodges, or travois poles and fence posts. The larger species of pine growing in the boreal forest, a mature lodgepole pine tree can grow to a height of twenty to thirty metres tall. A highly adaptable tree, the lodgepole pine favours growth in forested areas cleared by fire – in fact, like many coniferous trees, it depends on these conditions as the seeds from its cone require the heat of a fire to be released to the soil. Its leaves, like those of most coniferous trees, are needle shaped, and grow from two to four centimetres in length. Like the jack pine, lodgepole pine bark is scaly, and is grey to reddish brown in colour.

Traditional Uses:

 Aside from the general construction use of its wood, jack pine had a number of medicinal uses. The Chipewyan People traditionally pounded the needles of the jack pine into a powder that could be used for treating frost sores. Other northern tribes employed this same powder for treatment of burns or blisters. The inner bark of the tree was considered a food source by the Chipewyan and the Cree, but other Aboriginal Peoples traditionally held this bark to be inedible.

lobstick pine

The lodgepole pine sheds its lower branches as it ages, leaving a long truck with branches near the crown of the tree. Traditional hunters and trappers called trees in this form lobstick pine, and used it as a landmark when traveling long distances. Other uses of lodgepole pine were similar to those of the jack pine.


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