Latin name: Betula papyrifera Marsh.
Botanical family: Betulaceae
Growth habit: Tree
Vernacular name(s): paper birch, white birch (Eng.)
bouleau à papier, bouleau blanc (Fr.)
wuskwi-atik, waskwayahtik, wasgwah, waskwaha, waskwah, waskway, owkimawa (htik Cree)
k'i (Chipewyan)
maskwe'nos (Malecite)
wi'gwasa'tig (Ojibway)
uâshkuai (Montagnais)
aat'oo, k' i (Dene)
Sapling used to reduce swelling caused by a bee sting [Dene: 101].
Leaves :Chewed and plastered on wasp stings to extract the poison [Dene 13; Chipewyan 92]. Used to treat insect bites [Dene 100].
Stem or branch :Decoction taken in teething sickness [Cree 95]. Dried twigs used to clean out a boil [Dene 101]. Boiled and taken as a tea to treat stomach ailments [Dene 99].
Buds :Mixed with lard and applied as an ointment [Cree 93].
Wood :Dried, finely powdered rotten wood used as baby powder [Cree 94, 95; Metis 13]. Decoction used in back pain or to induce lactation [Cree 95]. Boiled and water used as a topical cleanser [Cree 93].
Wood and inner bark :Decoction used to treat "women's troubles" [Cree 95].
Inner bark :Used to ease teething pain [Cree, Metis 13]. Grated and eaten with balsam fir as a beneficial to diet [Montagnais 60]. Steam from tea inhaled to treat asthma [Cree 13]. , drunk for "women's troubles" [Metis 13]. , or used as a gargle for tonsillitis, sore throat, and cold [Cree, Metis 13]. Boiled and used as a poultice to treat burns and wounds [Cree, Metis 13]. Scraping from the outside of the innermost bark layer put in water and applied to infected cuts [Malecite 65]. Dried, ground and added to an ointment made from pitch and grease to treat persistent scabs and rashes, and boiled to make a wash to treat skin rash and other skin sores [Cree 95]. Tea used to treat stomach problems [Dene 100]. Boiled and tea smeared on burns, or drunk to cure menstrual cramps, cough and cold, back pain. Ashes smeared on abscesses [Dene 101].
Bark :Mixed with another plant in a decoction used by women who cannot conceive a child. Powdery outer layer sprinkled on a sprained ankle before bandaging it [Cree 13]. Used as a cast for a broken arm or leg, a sprained ankle, or swollen limbs [Cree 13; Dene 101]. Steamed and peeled to produce thin sheets suitable for bandages [Metis 13; Cree 95]. Dried and used as baby powder [Ojibway 89]. Tea used for diarrhoea [Montagnais 71]. White powder on the bark (lichens) used for diaper rash and other skin rashes [Algonquin 69]. Compress used to treat abscesses, boiled and used against impetigo [Cree 80].
Roots :Mixed with other plants in a decoction drunk to relieve menstrual cramps, a different mix is used as a heart medicine [Dene 13]. Tea used to treat snow blindness [Dene 99].
Sap :Used as a cough medicine, warmed and taken as a tea for general health [Dene 17]. Tea drunk for cough and breathing problems [Dene 101].