19 Different Trees You Can Use As Medicine

Many common North American trees can be used as medicine. Their advantage over medicinal herbs is that tree medicines can be used year round. In fact, trees make among the most versatile medicine you will find.
In early spring and summer the leaves of trees are useful healing agents. In fall and winter, the bark and twigs or of the roots may be used to treat common ailments. Some simple rules must be learned, however, and followed for tree medicines to work.


Preparing Tree Medicines for Use
Here are several rules to ensure you are mindful in gathering tree medicines. First never cut the bark off of the trunk of a living tree. Especially avoid girdling the tree by removing the bark as this will kill the tree. To gather bark use that found on a twig or a root of felled tree. In these cases, it is a simple matter of striping the bark off the twig or root with a sharp knife. Medicinal agents are found in the cambium-the living green or greenish yellow layer just under the outer bark.

Once you have gathered the bark of a tree you can use it immediately or dry it for later use. To dry the bark, carefully lay it to dry in the shade, making sure that the strips do not overlap. Leaves can be tied together and hung in bunches from a string or rope in a dry, shady area.
To use the bark, simmer two teaspoons of bark per cup of water for twenty minutes in a nonaluminum pot with a tight lid. Strain and drink. The dose is one-quarter cup, taken four times a day with meals. This assumes a 150-pound adult. A child weighing 75-pounds should take half as much, and a child weighing 40-pounds should take half as much again. The tea may be stored in a glass jar with a tight lid, in the refrigerator, for up to week.
When using the leaves they should be picked in the early spring no later than Summer Solstice. Steep two teaspoons of fresh or dried leaves per cup of freshly boiled water for about twenty minutes, in a nonaluminum pot with a tight lid. The dose is the same as above. Add lemon and honey to the medicines as desired. If you are making a tea to use as a wound wash or to add to the bath it may be much stronger. Use more of the tree parts and less water, and simmer or steep for longer periods. To make a tree leaf poultice, use fresh leaves, or dry ones that have been soaked in enough boiling water to make them soft. Place the leaves in a blender with just enough water to make a mush. Pour into a glass or ceramic bowl and then add powdered slippery elm bark, a little at a time, until a pie dough consistency is achieved. Spread the poultice onto a cotton cloth and apply to the affected area. Leave on for one hour, and then discard the poultice material. Repeat daily.
A fomentation may be made of the bark or leaf tea by soaking clean cotton cloth in the tea and then applying it to an affected area. Tree leaves, bark, and nuts may also be used in healing salves. To make a salve simply place the plant material in a large nonaluminum pot, and just barely cover with cold-pressed virgin olive oil. Simmer with a lid for about twenty minutes.
In a separate pot melt beeswax, and bring to a simmer. After oil mixture has simmered for twenty minutes add three tablespoons of melted beeswax for every cup of olive oil used. Stir and then strain into very clean glass jars. Allow to cool and harden before putting on the lid.
Some tree parts are used to make massage oils or oils for other purposes. Take the fresh tree parts, and put them in a shallow nonaluminum baking dish. Cover with a light oil such as almond, cover, and bake in a slow oven at 110 degrees for several hours until the plant material wilts.
To tincture buds, barks, or roots, place the chopped plant material in a clean glass jar. Cover with vodka or other alcohol {80 proof or higher}, cover tightly, and allow the tincture to sit for eight days. Shake occasionally. Add 10% spring water and a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin. Strain and bottle for later use. Store in cool, dark place. For leaves and flowers; pack the plant material into a clean glass jar, barely cover with alcohol, and allow the tincture to extract until the plant material begins to wilt. Add spring water and vegetable glycerin, and strain and bottle as above. The dose is about 10 drops, three times a day, taken with water.

Green Etiquette
It is only polite to thank a tree when you have used its parts for medicine. Make a habit of giving back to the trees. A meal of fertilizer, a drink during a hot spell, or offering of herbs such as sage or tobacco are always correct. In ancient European tradition,  honey, or apple cider were often given. Or a simple prayer was spoken, that the tree and its relations always have abundant sunshine, pure water to drink, healthy winds, and the companionship of birds and other friendly spirits. In this time of global warming it is wise to plant trees wherever possible and to nurture living ones. Trees are cooling. They prevent evaporation of rainwater, hold back water to prevent floods and erosion, purify stagnant and polluted water, and maintain the balance of oxygen and carbon in a world increasingly polluted by greenhouse gases. Ancient trees especially should be honored and protected.

 Tree Medicine




Is a small tree that thrives in damp areas such as wetlands and river banks. It usually has several grayish trunks, and its female catkins develop into what look like tiny brown pine cones. Alder bark is simmered in water to make a healing wash for deep wounds. It is astringent and will help to pull the edges of a wound together. The leaves and bark can be made into a tea that will benefit tonsillitis and fever. The leaves are also used in poultices to dry up breast milk. Alder bark tea can be used as a douche or for hemorrhoids. Fresh alder sap can be applied to any area to relieve itching.









The bark of the root of apple trees is used for fevers. Apples are rich in magnesium, iron, potassium, and Vitamins C, B and B2. When peeled, they relieve diarrhea. Stewed unpeeled apples are a laxative. Eating apples regularly promotes restful sleep. Baked apples can be applied warm as a poultice for sore throats and fevers. Apple cider is important in this time of antibiotics, which destroy the intestinal flora. Raw, unpasteurized apple cider will restore the correct bacteria to the bowels after a course of antibiotics. Apples reduce acidity in the stomach and help to clean the liver. Add garlic and horseradish to apple cider to clear the skin. Use the mixture as a wash externally and take it internally as a drink.







Ash is a tall tree whose compound leaves are composed of five to nine, or seven to eleven leaflets. Its bark is very tightly and regularly furrowed, and its winged, canoe-paddle-shaped seeds, called keys, hang in clusters until they are brown and drop off in the fall. The tender new spring growth of the twig tips and leaves can be simmered to make a laxative tea that will benefit gout, jaundice, and rheumatism.








Beech trees have a distinctive, smooth gray bark that resembles the skin of an elephant. The bark is used as a tea for lung problems, including tuberculosis. It is also cleansing to the blood, through pregnant women should avoid it. Beech bark tea make a good wash for poison ivy. Beech leaves are used in poultices for burns and for frostbite.










Birch trees have thin papery bark that peels easily — so easily that birds actually use it to build their nests. It can range in color from chalky white and reddish brown to golden gray and yellow. The sweet birch {black birch} and yellow birch both have a nice wintergreen flavor in their twigs and bark. Birch leaf or twig tea is a laxative, and healing to mouth sores, kidney and bladder sediments, and gout. The tea also help rheumatic pains. Make a strong decoction of the twigs, bark and leaves and add it to the bath for relief of eczema, psoriasis, and other moist skin eruptions. Modern medicine has recently confirmed that betulinic acid, formed in birch sap, has anti-tumor properties that help fight cancer.










The northern white cedar is an evergreen with a branched trunk, conical shape, and flat scale like leaves. It has reddish brown bark that hangs in hairy shreds. Another name for the tree is Arborvitae, or “tree of life,” a name given to it by the French explorer Jacques Cartier after it saved his crew from scurvy. A tea is made from the leaves and twigs, and is very high in Vitamin C. Among the Algonquin it is considered a sacred tree, and they will not perform a ceremony without it. Its branches are used on the floor of sweat lodges, and it is dried and burned as an incense because it harmonizes the emotions and put one in the proper state of mind for prayer. The tea of the twigs and branches is simmered until the water in the pot begins to turn brown. It is then used for fevers, rheumatic complaints, chest colds and flu.







Elder trees are quite small. They have clusters of white flowers in spring and black or deep purple berries in fall. They thrive in damp, moist areas. Elderberries are used to make preserves, pies, and wine. Taken as a tea, either fresh or dried, the berries benefit the lungs and nourish the blood. The young leaves of elder are used in salves and poultices for skin healing. A root bark tea clears congestion, eases headaches, and is used in poultices for mastitis. A tincture of the flowers lowers fever by promoting perspiration. Elderflowers water is a traditional remedy for skin blemishes and sunburn. Cold elderflower tea is placed on the eyes as a soothing compress for inflammation. Elderflower oil makes a soothing balm for sore nipples of nursing mothers.









Slippery elm is a medium-sized tree with grayish bark, usually found near streams. Unlike the American elm its crown does not droop. It leaves are also larger than the American elm’s with coarsely toothed margins. The inner bark of the slippery elm, which is sticky and fragrant when fresh, is used medicinally. Slippery Elm bark is available in dried and powdered forms from herbalists. It is made into paste with water and then applied as a poultice to injuries of flesh and bone, on gunshot wounds, ulcers, tumors, swellings, chilblains, and on the abdomen to draw fever out. Slippery elm is very high in calcium, and a pudding or tea of the bark can be ingested to help speed bone healing. The powdered bark in water makes a jelly that soothes bowel and urinary problems, sore throats, and diarrhea. It makes a perfect substitute milk for babies who are allergic to cow’s milk. Try adding a little lemon and honey for flavor.










Hawthorne is a small, broad, round, and dense tree with thorns and edible red fruits. The fall berries and spring new leaves and flowers make a cardiac tonic that benefits virtually all heart conditions. Be aware, however: Prolonged used does cause the blood pressure to drop. Use it for a few weeks and then take a week off to prevent a precipitous decrease in blood pressure. Use caution when combining this herb with other heart medications to prevent a sudden drop in blood pressure. For maximum benefit eat fresh raw garlic as you undergo a hawthorn regime. {Garlic provides extra cleansing of plaque in the blood vessels}.











Is a small tree with small rounded nuts that grow tow to four in a cluster. Hazel twigs are traditionally used by dowers to find hidden sources of water. Hazel nuts are said to benefit the kidneys. Huron herbalists used the bark in poultices for tumors and ulcers. The Iroquois mixed the nut oil with bear’s grease to make mosquito repellent. The Chippewa used a decoction of hazel root, white oak root, chokecherry bark, and the heartwood of ironwood for bleeding from the lungs.











Mountain Holly is a small tree with overate, fine saw-toothed leaves and large orange berries. The buds were twigs that were used by Native American herbalists in decoctions and as an external wash for ulcers, herpetic eruptions, jaundice, fever and diarrhea. The leaves alone were used as beverage tea. English holly of European holly is a familiar evergreen usually seen as decoration at Yuletide. It has spiny, elliptical leaves and shiny red berries. The leaves can be used as a tea substitute and in infusions for coughs, colds and flu. Be aware: The berries of all holly varieties are strongly purgative.







Linden and Basswood:



Linden is a large tree found in moist, rich soils near other hardwoods. It has a heart-shaped leaves with toothed margins. The bark is dark gray, and its fruit is nutlike, downy, and pea sized. It has clusters of yellowish-white fragrant flowers in the spring. Basswood, or American linden, is a close relative. Linden flower tea is a popular beverage in Europe for nervous headaches and upset digestion, hysteria, nervous vomiting, and heart palpitations. Linden flower tea can also be added to baths to calm the nerves. Linden flower honey is prized for medicinal use. Native American herbalists used the roots and bark of basswood for burns and the flower tea for epilepsy, headache, spasm, spasmodic cough, and general pain. The buds were eaten as famine food, and the bark was pounded and added to soups.








Maples are large trees with deeply lobed, toothed leaves. The bark of the younger tress is gray and smooth, on older trees it breaks into ridges and fissures. Maples have winged seeds that hang in cluster of two. The Ojibwa and the Cherokee made a decoration of the inner bark or red maple to use as a wash for sore eyes. The leaves of striped maple, or moose head, were used to poultice sour breasts. A decoration of inner bark of sugar maple was used for diarrhea. The Penobscot used striped maple bark in poultices for swollen limbs, and as a tea for kidney infections, coughs, colds, and bronchitis. Young maple leaves can be made into massage oil that will be soothing to sore muscles.









Oaks are large trees with lobed leaves and acorns topped by bowl-shaped caps. The best oak for internal use is white oak, though all oaks are valuable as external washes. The tannins in oak bark and leaves are helpful in pulling the edges of a wound together and is antiseptic and antiviral. White oak bark tea is used for chronic diarrhea, chronic mucus discharges, and piles. It makes a nice gargle for sore throats and wash for skin problems such as poison ivy, burn and wounds. The tea of the leaf of the bark may be used by women as a douche for vaginitis. Use caution: Prolonged ingestion of oak is potentially harmful.










All pines are evergreens, with needles that grow in soft, flexible clusters. Pine trees are revered worldwide as healing agents. Any pine, or other evergreen such as spruce, larch, and cedar, will have antiseptic properties useful as a wound wash. The most palatable pine for internal use is the white pine. Its needles and twigs are simmered into a tea that is rich in Vitamin C. The tea is used for sore throats, coughs, and colds. Chinese herbalists boil the knot of the wood because of the concentrated resins found there. Pine baths aid kidney ailments, improve circulation, and are relaxing to sore muscles. The aroma of pine is soothing to the nerves and lungs. Pine tea make a wonderful foot bath.









Poplars are distinguished by their drooping catkins and rounded leaves with pointed tips. Balsam poplar was used by Native American herbalists who scored the bark and applied the resinous gum to toothaches and swellings. The sticky spring buds were gathered in May and used in salves for skin problems, sprains, sore muscles, wounds, headaches, tumors, eczema, bruises, gout, and on the chest for lung ailments and coughs. The buds were decorated and used internally for phlegm, kidney and bladder ailments, coughs, scurvy, and rheumatic pains. The root was combined with the root of white poplar in a decoction to stop premature bleeding in pregnancy. The warmed juice of white poplar was dropped into sore ears. Poplar barks are high in salicilin, making them useful in treating deep wounds, gangrene, eczema, cancer, burns, and strong body odor. The inner bark of a young poplar tree is edible in the spring and can be simmered into a tea for liver and kidney ailments.





Rowan, or Mountain Ash:



The American mountain ash and the European mountain ash have identical uses. The former has bunches of orange berries that look like tiny apples, and the latter one has red ones. Both are small, sturdy trees with compound leaves of nine to seventeen leaflets. Their clusters of white flowers, composed of five petals each, appear in spring. Rowan berries are bitter, astringent, and very high in Vitamin C. They should be picked just after the first frost when their color has deepened . The fresh juice of the berries is added to sore throat gargles, and jelly is made from the berries will treat diarrhea in adults and children. Rowan berries are added to ales and cordials. In ancient Scotland, a syrup for coughs and colds was made from rowan berries, apples, and honey.





Walnut trees are tall and have compound, alternative leaflets. Their spring flowers are drooping green catkins that mature into large, round nuts covered in green, spongy husks that stain the hands brown when cut open with a knife. Walnut husks are medicinally active. They are antifungal and rich in manganese, a skin-healing agent. Gather them when fresh, and rub directly onto ringworm. The tea of the hull may be used as a douche for vaginitis. For stubborn old ulcers apply the dried , powdered leaf, and then poultice with fresh green leaves. Do this for about twenty days, daily. The leaf tea increases circulation, digestion, and energy. The fresh bark may be applied to the temples for headache or to teeth to relieve pain. The dried and powdered bark, or pounded fresh bark, can be applied to wounds to stop swelling and to hasten healing.





There are more than forty varieties of willow growing in the US. They are water-loving trees, a good indicator species if your looking for a regular water source, either above or below ground. Willows have slender flexible twigs and long, narrow, simple leaves. In early spring, willows bloom with golden catkins that mature into small seed capsules in late summer. All willow barks have salicylic acid, which is a natural form of aspirin. Willow bark tea treats muscle pain and inflammation, diarrhea, fever, arthritic pain, and headache. Used externally it makes a wash for cuts, ulcers, and poison ivy. Willow bark in teas and capsules is sedative and eases insomnia. It reduces the rids of heart disease and may delay cataract formation.






3 Replies to “19 Different Trees You Can Use As Medicine

  1. It seems there are some typos in here. I also wish you could describe how each part is used, how are leaves made into massage oil, for example.

  2. The picture for Poplar is actually not in the Poplar family. Tulip poplar (Liriodendron tulipfera) is in the Magnolia family.

  3. Heya i’m for the primary time here. I came across this board
    and I in finding It truly useful & it helped me out a lot.
    I’m hoping to give one thing again and aid others like you helped me.

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