Return to Ruby Cusack dot com Home Page

Weeds of the Woods

I really wanted to win the flower gathering contest. The teacher promised extra points for doing a poster with ten blossoms from bushes that must include the leaf and stem. The written information was to be descriptive, informative and give a medicinal use.

Last evening Cliff and I searched along the bank of the brook with hopes of finding an early blooming choke cherry but to no avail. Cliff then helped me paint a border around a piece of brown cardboard.

Today when we came home from school, we found not only a choke cherry blossom in a bottle of water on the kitchen table but a sumac blossom as well which Gramp had found in Sussex where the season was a bit earlier.

Once the supper dishes were done, Mum sat at the table with me.

After I glued on the choke cherry, I wrote about Mum warning us not to drink milk when we ate those berries. Dad suggested I add cherry juice was helpful for suffers of gout and that livestock could be poisoned if they ate the leaves.

I was careful not to prick my finger on the sharp spines of the thorn bush which was really called a hawthorn and was a member of the rose family. In my best printing, I told about  the ship “Mayflower” being named after the blossom of the English hawthorn. I added, "The red berries, looked like miniature apples, and stayed on the tree all winter and served as food for the birds".  Gram was not certain but she thought the twigs could be steeped to make a tea for rheumatism. That was good enough to cover a medicinal use.

If only, “Weeds of the Woods” by Glen Blouin had been available way back then, I would have found out thorns were used by Indian women as awls to sew leather, the fruit was dried and pressed into cakes and stored for winter use, and the wood was often carved into tool handles.

This 1984 publication reveals very interesting details on some small trees and shrubs of New Brunswick. Information and uses, our ancestors were probably very familiar with but over the years have been forgotten or for one reason or the other were not passed down to the next generation.

From the book, I found out the leaves of the sumac are rich in tannic acid and in days gone by were gathered and sold to tanneries for the making of a light-coloured Moroccan leather. The berries, leaves and roots were used to make dyes from yellow to red to black.

Superstition has it that he who cuts the striped maple or moosewood for firewood will starve to death. Some claim the leaves are possessed of a bad spirit and never should be touched.
In 1868, the elderberry flowers were included in the official Canadian list of medicinal plants.

Many a farmer has cut the alders in “the black moon of August” in hopes of getting rid of them.

Weeds of the Woods - Some Small Trees and Shrubs of New Brunswick” by Glen Blouin takes us back to the time when the folk who lived close to the land knew the uses and dangers of the shrubs growing in or near to their backyards.

The publication can be viewed at several libraries.


Query 1478
Cameron - Ackerley - Berry - Gidney: Seeking information on John Cameron and wife Abigail Ackeley from the Waterborough and Hampstead area of New Brunswick. Their daughter, Susan Cameron married  James Berry and had a son Caleb Berry who married Mary Elizabeth Gidney. Caleb and his son, John gold-mined in the Yukon in 1898-99 (we have his letters!) and he and other relatives moved to Booneville, California to work in the lumber and hotel businesses in the early 1900s. 

Query 1479
Price - Webb: I have a collection of Price family photographs. Is there a repository in Havelock or Petitcodiac, New Brunswick for photographs of local individuals and events?
3002 Aelksun PLace
Comox, BC
Canada, V9M 4G7

Query 1480
Harding - Doherty - Shannon - McClaverty: Seeking descendants of John Harding, who was born in Ireland in1815 and Mary A. Doherty, who was born in Ireland in1822. They married in 1846 in probably Saint John, New Brunswick. They had a large family, some of whom I believe still live in the area. I am descended from their daughter Mary who married William John Shannon, whose daughter Mary married Henry McClaverty in Belfast and settled there. She was my great grandmother and I have a picture of me as a baby taken with her. I would like to correspond with New Brunswick connections. 

New and Used Genealogical and Historical books of
New Brunswick for sale.

Ruby M. Cusack is a genealogy buff living in New Brunswick, Canada. Send your New Brunswick genealogical queries to her at:  Include your name and mailing address for the benefit of the readers of the newspaper who do not have access to E-mail but could have information to share with you. Please put "Query" followed by the surnames in your query. For more information on submitting queries, visit
Back to Home of  rubycusack dot com