Amateur Ethnobotany at the Squamish Estuary

Last week on a particularly sunny (but still cold) November afternoon, a friend and I took a trip down to the Squamish Estuary. Just about five minutes from campus, the estuary is easy to get to after class and still feels a world away from everything that’s happening on top of the hill. I had taken field trips to the Estuary multiple times before, but this time I wasn’t worried about counting birds or completing a work sheet and things felt much more peaceful.

Théa picking some rose hips

I was happy just strolling down the pathways and admiring the mountains from a slightly different angle, but the friend I had come with was busy looking for something. I watched her ever so carefully tread off the trail and reach out to pluck something off a small bush. She returned with a small handful of red bulbs, “rose hips!” she explained. She told me she had learned about rose hips and all their various uses in an ethnobotany block last spring and was excited to bring these home and make tea. Apparently, rose hips are rich in vitamins A, B, C, E, and K, and are also delicious in jams and syrups.

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As we kept walking, I listened as my friend pointed out different plants. Snow berries are poisonous, but extremely fun to squish together. Licorice fern is delicious when chewed up but also can be used as a remedy for sore throats. Her favorite plant was one that she couldn’t quite identify, but remembered that she had named it characteristically as “smells delicious” after the last time she found it.

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After a couple hours of wandering, smelling, and gazing out at the mountains, we realized it was getting harder to feel our fingers and decided it was time to make our way back up to campus for some rose hip tea.

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