PHONE: (313) 593-5644
DATE: June 11, 2003
Student creates self-guided tour of medicinal trees in Natural Areas
DEARBORN---Nature enthusiasts visiting the Environmental
Interpretive Center can learn about the diversity of trees in the
campus's Natural Areas with the help of a new, free trail guide.
The brochure takes visitors on a self-guided tour of the White Oak Trail,
located on the west side of Fairlane Lake, and explains the medicinal
and traditional uses of marked trees along an 80-meter stretch of the
"I didn't want a long trail," said student Greg Norwood, who
created the brochure as a project for his ethnobotany course with anthropology
Prof. Daniel Moerman. "I thought a short, compact trail would really
wake people up to the diversity of trees we have here in Michigan."
The guide identifies eight of the more than 40 species of trees found
in the Natural Areas and lists the natural histories, distinguishing marks,
and medicinal and traditional uses of each tree.
For instance, the guide tells readers that the Eastern Hop Hornbeam tree
appears slightly bent in the middle and has a narrow girth, yet produces
the strongest wood in the Natural Areas. Pioneers of the eastern deciduous
forests used the wood for handles of levers, mallets or axes, according
to the brochure. Also, Chippewa Indians placed the heartwood of the branches
in hot liquid with other plants and drank it for lung hemorrhages, or
made cough syrup.
"The thing that made this work was the idea to do trees, which you
can find all year round, instead of wildflowers or other plants,"
according to Moerman. "I'd worked with EIC program coordinator Dorothy
McLeer some time ago on a similar idea, but we were always stumped by
the problem of seasonality. But the trees are always there, and Greg took
the idea, and ran with it. He did a really good job."
Norwood, an environmental studies freshman, said he designed the brochure
not as a general tree guide, but as one that speaks about the specific
tree in front of the reader.
"It's not a look at Hornbeam trees in general, I want people to
study this Hornbeam tree," said Norwood, standing on the trail,
pointing to the small tree nearby.
Norwood, a Dearborn resident and graduate of Divine Child High School,
volunteers part-time at the EIC, surveying and banding birds. He hopes
visitors will enjoy the new guide and benefit from the living history
of the trees along the trail.
"It's nice to have a place like this so close to home," Norwood
Brochures will be available inside the Environmental Interpretive Center
as soon as posts are installed identifying the trees along the trail.
The Environmental Interpretive Center is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Natural Areas trails are open from dawn to dusk. For more information, call the EIC at (313) 593-5338.
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