The Bog: Trees   Leave a comment

  The Bog: Trees



Betulaceae (Birch Family)


Betula populifolia (Birch, Gray)









The gray birch has deciduous, simple, triangular leaves with elongated tips. The dark green leaf, about 7.5 cm long, has a doubly serrated margin. The small tree can reach a height of about 10 meters, however, it is much smaller on the heath. Gray birch often has 2 or more trunks (Multiple stems). The inner bark has been ground up and added to flour for making bread and biscuits. The tree sap has been used to make birch bark beer. Preparations made from birch bark have been used as an astringent.


Pinaceae (Pine Family)

Pinus banksiana (Pine, Jack)





Found on the Corea Heath


The evergreen needles of this species are short and arranged two to each cluster. The mature seed cones tend to point upward. Jack Pine is commercially harvested as pulpwood, lumber, railroad ties, etc. The seeds are consumed by a variety of birds, rodents and other mammals.



 Pinus rigida (Pine, Pitch)












Pitch Pine reaches a height of 10 meters or more but is much shorter on the heath surface. This species is much more common further south and is abundant on the Saco heath. The evergreen, yellowish to green needles, about 10 cm long, are arranged 3 to a bundle. The dark gray bark is interrupted by deep vertical grooves. The oval (egg-shaped) cones are about 5 cm long. Pitch pine has been harvested for pulp wood, lumber, and as a source of turpentine.



Pinus strobus (White Pine)









White pine is one of the tallest pines sometimes exceeding 35 meters in height; however it is much shorter on the bog. It has a relatively straight trunk and a crown of vegetation. In colonial times ships’ masts and booms were fashioned from white pine because of this character. A row of branches is added each year to the crown. The evergreen, blue-green needles, about 10 cm long, are arranged in bundles, 5 each. The thick bark is grayish. The cylindrical cones, about 15 cm long, change in color from greenish to brownish as they mature. White pine has been harvested for pulp wood in the paper making industry, and fashioned into lumber. In addition turpentine was extracted from the tree by colonists.

Tea prepared by boiling bark has been used as a remedy for sore throats, coughs, and colds in general. Tea made from boiled needles is said to be high in vitamin C.


1. Fast upward growth. White pines exhibit fast upward growth and intercept light with a “terminal” crown of branches, often out competing slower growing or shorter plants for precious light. Why is light so important?

2. Allelopathy. Fallen needles tend to accumulate around the bases of pine trees, creating an acidic environment as they decompose. This inhibits the germination and growth of some plant species. How does this help pines?



Picea mariana (Spruce, Black or Bog Spruce)








Black spruce can grow as tall as 17 meters ; however they are much shorter on the bog. This trend is clear in the first photograph above. The 4-angled, sharp-pointed, blue-green needles (Leaves) extend outward all around the twig. The bark is grey-black. Lower branches that are pushed against the ground, sometimes by heavy snow cover, generate new roots at the point of contact; new stems then extend upward as shown in the second photograph. When this happens a ring of new growth forms around the parent tree. Black spruce is a source of pulpwood, spruce gum and spruce beer. Grouse, rabbits and deer feed on black spruce twigs and needles. Oil prepared from black spruce tissues gives off a pleasant evergreen fragrance and is sometimes used as a disinfectant and as a part of soaps and detergents. The external pitch or resin can be chewed as gum and formed into a salve that is used to treat external sores, burns or other skin afflictions. It has many other uses too many to list.



Larix laricina (Tamarack or Larch)  











Tamarack reaches heights of 17 meters or more, however it is relatively short in the bog. It has thin deciduous, blue-green needles that turn yellow before being shed in the fall. Tamarack has been harvested for house framing and as pulp wood. The roots were used by North American Indians to sew pieces of birch bark together to cover canoes. Bark tea has been used to treat sore throats, and as a laxative. Leaf tea has been used to treat diarrhea as well as several other ailments.




Posted February 7, 2011 by zottoli

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