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Wings & Seed Project

Updated: 6-27-2011 11:17 AM


The WINGS & SEEDS Project


       Northern University of Michigan conducted this program and created an informative handout on 7 Native plants. 

Red Willow   

Native name Ozi’sigo’bimic miskwaabiimizh+iig

Botanical name Salix lucida

Appearance Single trunk, often crooked with many drooping branches often reaching the ground, very broad round crown

Niibiishan (leaf): simple, narrow lance-shaped, 2-4" (5-10 cm) long, alternately attached, pointed tip and fine-toothed margin, bright green above, whitish below

Wawaskoni (flower): catkin, 1" (2.5 cm) long, standing erect on a short leafy shoot

Habitat Wet or moist soils

Uses Indigestion, pain reliever, craftwork (dream catchers)

Key pollinator Noodin (the wind)

Interesting fact Some people use the niibiish (leaves) of the red willow as an aid to quit smoking and/or chewing tobacco.  


Juneberry or Serviceberry

Native name Aniibiimin

Botanical name Amelanchier


Niibiish (leaf): shrubs or small trees with oval, toothed leaves

Wawaskwane (flowers): drooping clusters of showy 5-petals often appear before the leaves

Min (berry): turn from red to purple, huckleberry-like

Habitat Mtigwaakiing (forests), thickets, rocky or swampy areas

Uses fruits, jelly, dysentery, and diseases of women

Wegonesh miinwa aapiish? (What and when):

Wawaskwane (flowers): April-June

Min (berry): June-September

Key pollinator Aamo (the bee)

Interesting fact Species of Amelanchier have been used by native peoples throughout North America. Depending on the region, the plant has many different native names. In English, it may be called Juneberry, Saskatoon Berry, Serviceberry, Shadbush, or Sugar Plum.



Common Cattail

Native name Apuk’we

Botanical name Typha latifolia

Appearance Broad leafed; male flower-head joins female head.; height is 3 - 9 feet (0.9 - 2.7m)

Habitat Fresh or brackish marshes, shallow water

Uses Young shoots, stalks and immature flower eaten raw or cooked like asparagus, salads, pickles, flour; root used as potato. Possibly the most versatile native edible plant.

Interesting fact Quick and easy Pakweshmowaanhs (pillows) can be easily made using the seed heads

What and when Wegonesh miinwa aapiish?

Mino’koomik (early spring): shoots

Late spring: flower spikes, vegetable

Niibing (in early summer): flower spikes, pollen

Late summer: horn-shaped sprouts from tip of rootstock

Biboong (in the winter): remaining horn-

shaped sprouts from tip of rootstock

Key pollinator  Noodin (the wind)



Native name Dodoshaabo-jiibik

Botanical name Taraxacum officinale Weber

Habitat  Lawns, roadsides

Key pollinator  Aamoik (bees)


Wawasokoni (flower): solitary, compound yellow flowers; outer bracts of flowers reflexed; followed by white seedballs

Stem: milky, hollow, 2-19 in. (5-45 cm)

Niibiish (leaf): sharp, irregular lobes

Uses Niibiishan (leaves), wawaskwanein (flowers): salads, cooked green, cooked vegetables, fritter, pickle; sunburn relief, facial compress

jiibikan (roots): makade’mshkiki’aabo (coffee), niibiishaabo (tea)

Wegonesh miinwa aapiish? (What and when):

Mnookmig (in spring): leaves, buds; Niibing (spring-early summer): flower; Daagwagi (fall-early spring): roots

Interesting fact The Ojibwe word for "dandelion" translates as "milk root," referring to the bitter juice that comes from the stem when picked.

*The dandelion arrived here from Europe in 1671, and Native Americans quickly adopted this valuable food resource.


Sugar Maple

Native name Aajaagobiimin

Botanical name Acer saccharum


M’tick (tree): single trunk, ascending branches, narrow round to oval crown

Niibiish (leaf): lobed, 3-5" (7.5-12.5 cm) in length, oppositely attached, 5 lobes (occasionally 3), pointed tips, few irregular teeth, wavy margin, yellowish green avove, paler below. Fall colors orange to red

Bark: Gray in color, narrow furrows and irregular ridges, can be scaly

Wawasokoni (flower): greenish yellow, ¼ " (.6 cm) wide, dangling on a 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) long

Habitat Rich moist soils

Uses Ziiwagimide (syrup), Ziisibaakwat (sugar), Skhode m’tick (firewood)

Key pollinators Mememgwo miinwaa aamo (butterfly and bee)

Interesting fact Natives used maple sugar much like people use ziitagan (salt) today.



Native name Odatagaagomin

Botanical name Rubus odoratus parviflorus

Appearance thornless shrub with maple-like leaves

Wawaskwane (flowers): roselike white flowers, 1-2 in (2.5-5 cm) in diameter

Minan (berries): shallow, cup-shaped red berries

Habitat rocky woods, thickets, ravines

Uses Mijim (food): fruit, however the berries are rather tart and dry.

Wegonesh miinwa aapiish? (What and when):

Niibin (summer): Minan (berries) rather tart and dry

Key pollinator Mememgwo miinwaa aamo (butterfly and bee)

Interesting fact Thimbleberries are among the softest of fruit, and because they do not travel well, they have never been cultivated. Wild patches are sometimes closely watched. 



Native name Miinan

Botanical name  Vaccinium angustifolium ait


Niibiish (leaves): elliptic, short stlked, toothless or minutely toothed

Wawaskwane (flowers): bell-like; whitish, pinkish or greenish

Min (berry): miinande (blue) or makade (black) berries

Habitat Wet or dry acidic soils; bogs, barrens, tundras, woods, thickets.

Uses Eaten fresh, dried, baked, and mixed with minomin (wild rice; the good berry)