Plant Collector Cards
SaskPower's Shand Greenhouse grows more than 30 different species of trees and shrubs. Our plant collector cards featuring some of these species are a neat way to learn more about the trees and shrubs of Saskatchewan.
Would you like your very own set of cards mailed to you? Email SaskPower Shand Greenhouse and tell us why you think trees are important. Also include the names of the cards that you would like—we can send you the entire set, or just the ones you want. Preview what the actual cards look like.
Description: Under favourable conditions this hardwood tree can reach a height of 15 metres but on exposed or dry sites remains as a somewhat shorter, scrubby shrub. Its shiny dark leaves are distinctively lobed with rounded tips. Once established, the deep taproot develops numerous deep lateral roots to increase its survival in dry soil.The acorns ripen by mid-August, encased in a partially enclosed, shallow-fringed cup. Inconspicuous male and female flowers are found on the same tree.
Distribution: Although widely distributed through southern Ontario and as far west as southern Manitoba, Saskatchewan’s natural stands exist only in the southeast along valleys and tributaries to the Assiniboine River.
Historical Uses: Acorns were sometimes ground to produce a coffee substitute as well as a type of flour used in cakes.The bark made a strong bandage for securing broken bones. Naturally high in tannins, it was also used to tan leather.The inner bark was boiled and used to treat a variety of ailments including sore throats, tonsillitis and intestinal or digestive problems.
Economic Importance: Although it has no significant commercial value in Saskatchewan, bur oak is used for woodworking, flooring and interior finishing products in eastern North America. It is used commonly for landscaping and can be found in shelterbelt and wildlife plantings in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Description: A small tree growing between 2 and 4 meters. Creamy, white flower clusters appear in early summer followed by a stringent red-black fruit. Leaves are dark green, sharply toothed, and are arranged alternately on the stem. The plant has distinctive grey bark with noticeable horizontal white markings.
Distribution: Found throughout the parkland along bush edge and in valleys and ravines throughout the Prairies. Its range extends across Canada from Newfoundland to British Columbia and up to the southern Yukon Territory.
Historical Uses: The fruit was very important to Indian peoples and pioneers. The wood was sometimes used to make digging sticks, roasting skewers and fire tongs. Tea made from this plant was used to treat gastrointestinal disorders and the juice of the berries was given to treat diarrhea and sore throats.
Economic Importance: The fruit has been used commercially for wine, juice, jams and jellies. Seeds and leaves contain hydrocyanic acid and are poisonous.
Colorado Blue Spruce
Description: This hardy evergreen can grow up to 30m in height and is known for its striking bluish colour. This tree is slow growing, but can live for several hundred years. Colorado Blue Spruce is fairly wind tolerant and grows in acidic soils. It dislikes shade and is intolerant of air pollutants. Every 2 to 3 years this tree will produce a crop of long, soft cones.
Distribution: Colorado Blue Spruce was introduced to Saskatchewan and is now found throughout most of North America. It is tolerant up to zone 1a in Saskatchewan.
Historical Uses: Young male catkins and immature female cones can be roasted and eaten. Inner bark can be dried, powdered and used as a thickener or in bread in an emergency. Seeds can also be eaten in an emergency. The new shoot tips can be brewed into a very nice, vitamin C rich tea.
Economic Importance: The primary use of this tree is as an ornamental or in shelterbelt rows. The wood is brittle and knotty so it is not good for timber. It can be used for paper pulp.
Eastern Red Cedar
Description: The name cedar is deceiving as this tree is actually an upright juniper. The leaves are dark bluish-green scales. They are pointy and about 2 mm long. It forms berry-like, dark blue seed cones, coated with a whitish powder. In good conditions, this species can grow to10m high and 1m in diameter. If the conditions are poor it may remain a low-growing shrub for its entire life. The bark is reddish-brown and fibrous. This species has been known to live up to 450 years.
Distribution: Found naturally in eastern North America as far north as the southern edge of the Great Lakes. It is often the first to colonize a disturbed area. Commonly found on rocky ridges and dry sandy soils.
Historical Uses: The heartwood of this tree was used to make bows. Cedar poles were used by Aboriginal peoples to mark out tribal hunting territories as well as for medicinal treatments. In the 1930s, farmers were encouraged to plant this species as a shelterbelt tree.
Economic Importance: Commonly used as ornamentals or even Christmas trees. The aromatic, moth and rot resistant wood is used to make cedar chests and closets, fence posts and pencils. Juniper oil can be distilled from the scales and twigs.
Description: Green ash can grow to 12 metres. Its compound leaves have five to seven oval, tapered leaflets that are some of the last to emerge in the spring, but some of the first to drop in the autumn. The leaves become bright yellow in fall. The bark is greyish-brown, becoming narrowly furrowed with age. The seed is single-winged, which hangs in clusters and can remain on the tree late into the winter. Male and female flowers are located on separate trees (dioecious).
Distribution: Found commonly along valleys and rivers in southeast Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba.
Historical Uses: First Nations people made tea from the inner bark, and used it as a laxative or to induce vomiting. It was also used as a wash to treat sores, itching, lice and snakebites. The wood was used to make pipe stems, bows, arrows, tipi pegs, drums and meat drying racks.
Economic Importance: It is used frequently in field and farm shelterbelts. It has also been used extensively in urban areas for landscaping and as a shade tree for street plantings.
Description: This smooth-barked shrub grows from 1 to 4 metres. Its leaves are distinctly three-lobed and its small white flowers form flat-topped clusters in late June and early July. Larger flowers with five rounded petals form the outer ring in each cluster.The tiny fertile flowers near the centre produce red berries in fall that remain on the shrub through winter.When heated, the fruit is often described as having the odour of dirty socks but objectionable flavours do not persist in the cooked product.
Distribution: Common in moist woodlands from Newfoundland to central B.C., this shrub can be found throughout Saskatchewan’s parkland region and in all moist woodlands.
Historical Uses: First Nations people consumed the berries, used the inner bark as a tobacco substitute, and may also have used portions of the plant medicinally.
Economic Importance: This shrub is frequently used in wildlife plantings where it is an important food source for ruffed and sharptail grouse, pheasants and songbirds. The berries are used both domestically and commercially on a small scale for making jams and jellies.
Description: This tree can grow up to 20m tall. It has a conical crown and open, ascending branches. If found in a forest stand, it is slender with a short crown and sparse branching. The needles are in bundles of 2 and the bark matures into dark brown, irregular plates. The hard cones are 3-7cm and sealed by a resin bond. They can be opened by the heat from a fire or exposure to sunlight.
Distribution: Found in Northern Alberta up to Southern North West Territories (NWT). It can be found around the southern edge of Hudson Bay and east to Nova Scotia. It extends as far south as the north east and central U.S. This species is a colonizer after fires and performs well in poor soil conditions and permafrost.
Historical Uses: Aboriginal peoples used the long, shallow roots of this tree to make a cord for stitching canoes. The resin has been used to treat respiratory, skin and other medical ailments. Territorial tree of NWT.
Economic Importance: The wood from this tree is used in construction, wood pulp, railway ties, telephone poles, pilings, mine timbers, and fence posts. The resin can be distilled to form turpentine; rosin for bows of stringed instruments; and wood preservatives or waterproofing such as varnish and pitch.
Description: This coniferous tree grows to 20 metres. Its sharp needles, which spiral in twisted pairs, can range in colour from dark to yellowish green. Cones are straight, approximately 2-4 cm long, and each cone scale is armed with a sharp prickle on its back. Cones are held on branches for many years and are positioned with tips pointing toward the tree’s grey bark.
Distribution: Lodgepole pine is found throughout western Alberta and in the Cypress Hills in Saskatchewan. Natural stands are unknown in Canada east of Cypress Hills.
Historical Uses: The long, straight trunks were prized as lodge poles in construction of Aboriginal dwellings. First Nations people also used the inner bark for food.
Economic Importance: Used as a timber species for construction-grade lumber, siding and pulp, this tree can also be used for railway ties, poles and mining timbers when properly treated with preservative.
Description: This tree can reach a height of 12 metres. Its trunk is often divided near the ground and is generally light grey and smooth, darkening and furrowing with age. The compound leaves have three to five leaflets that can be lobed. The distinguishing feature of this tree is its “helicopter seeds”, double-winged samaras that resemble helicopters as they spin to the ground. Male and female flowers are found on separate trees (dioecious).
Distribution: It grows naturally in southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan as well as the very southwest corner of Ontario. It is predominantly found along streams and in valleys in woodlands on moist soils.
Historical Uses: Cree and other tribes used sap from this tree to make syrups and sugar. The inner bark was sometimes used to make a tea which calmed nerves and treated liver and spleen problems. The tea could also be used to induce vomiting.
Economic Importance: It is commonly used for shelterbelts and in landscaping, although the heavy seed set from female trees can make it “weedy”. Maple syrup production from this species is a cottage industry in the Prairies.
Description: This perennial native bunch grass ranges in height from 30-120 centimetres. Inconspicuous flowers appear in June and July.The grass bears a sharp, needlelike seed with a long, thin awn, which, when dried, curls to resemble a threaded needle.
Distribution: Native to mixed prairie grassland of the Northern Plains and generally found in dry sandy regions.
Historical Uses: In 2001 it became the official grass emblem of Saskatchewan.
Economic Importance: Palatable, protein rich grass preferred by both wildlife and cattle. However, this grass may cause problems and sores to the eyes and mouths of grazing animals if grazed after flowering. Due to the deep roots and their ability to hold to the soil this bunch grass is drought tolerant and often used in native prairie reclamation projects.
Description: A large tree growing to 15 metres (50 feet). It has distinctive white bark that tends to peel into sheets. In spring it bears a catkin (cone-like flower) which produces tiny, papery, winged seeds.
Distribution: It thrives on sun and as such is found commonly along rivers, in open moist areas and cutovers on well drained, sandy or silty soils. Its range extends throughout the northern parts of the Prairie provinces and in most other parts of Canada.
Historical Uses: The paper birch was used in many ways by Aboriginal people.The bark was used to make dwellings, canoes and bowls for water, cooking and for gathering berries and other items.The sap was collected in such bowls and reduced to make a sweet syrup.The cambium (the growing portion of the tree immediately between the wood and the bark) was eaten fresh.The leaves, inner bark and portions of root were used for teas and for medicines. A beautiful art form called birch bark biting evolved that created intricate designs on folded pieces of soft bark.The dried papery bark was a certain fire starter in any weather.
Economic Importance: Paper birch is Saskatchewan’s provincial tree. It is occasionally used as a landscape specimen because of its distinctive bark.
Description: A small tree growing up to 5 metres. It bears small, round clusters of white flowers in May-June as the leaves begin to appear. Flowers are followed by small, red cherry-like fruit in mid-summer. The bark of young wood is a shiny, reddish-brown color. Leaves are bright green, lanceolate and finely toothed.
Distribution: Commonly found in clearings, along fences and roads in burnt or cut-over areas in mature forests and young forests. They are also found in bluffs, ravines and on hillsides. Their range extends across Canada from the Maritimes to central B.C. and as far north as the Northwest Territories.
Historical Uses: First Nations people and early pioneers used portions of this plant for medicinal purposes. The bark was used to make a tea for coughs and stomach problems and the fruit was used to make cough syrup. The bark, leaves and pits of the plant contain a poisonous compound called hydrocyanic acid; therefore using plant parts (except the fruit for jelly and syrup) is not recommended.
Economic Importance: The fruit is used commercially to make excellent jellies and syrup. The plant is used extensively for wildlife plantings. Varieties and cultivars of this plant are used in landscaping.
Description: The Plains Cottonwood is a large, fastgrowing tree with a substantial trunk, deeply furrowed bark and branching crown. It can grow up to 30m high and typically lives around 50 years. Specimens in North Dakota are known to be over 250 years old.The shiny, toothed leaves are heart-shaped and the seeds are born on female trees in clusters of pods, which split to release large quantities of white cotton and tiny white-ish seeds.
Distribution: This tree is found on the southern tip of Quebec and along major waterways in the southern prairies. It prefers moist sites.
Historical Uses: The inner bark of this tree has a sweet, pleasant taste and can be boiled to release salicin, which breaks down to salicylic acid, the active ingredient in Aspirin.The cotton was used as a dressing for wounds and the seed pods could be chewed like gum.
Economic Importance: This species is valuable because of its extremely quick growth rate. It is commonly used as a shelterbelt species.The timber is low grade and is used to make pallets, crates, posts, or as a veneer.
Description: This fast growing shrub can grow up to 4m high and 1-2m wide. It is characterized by light green leaves that occur on the stems in odd numbers.They have a distinctive smell that is reminiscent of iron or rust.The leaves are toothed or can be deeply lobed. It produces small white flowers followed by clusters of red berries which are a favourite food of birds.
Distribution: This tree is found across Canada and prefers moist, well-drained sites, but will also perform well in clay.
Historical Uses: The berries can be toxic but are safe to eat after cooking. A tea can be made from the roots which was once used as a diuretic or a purgative.
Economic Importance: The Red Elder is an excellent species to attract birds in shelterbelts or wildlife plantings.
Cornus sericea syn . Cornus Stolonifera
Description: A shrub that grows 1 to 2 metres (3 to 6 feet) with conspicuous reddish bark on twigs. Leaves are ovate, opposite and have smooth edges.White flowers are borne on flat-topped clusters in early June followed by bluish-white berries later in summer.
Distribution: Across Canada along margins of woodlands, roadsides and coulees. It is prominent in areas with high spring moisture throughout the Prairies.
Historical Uses: The fruit has been reportedly used by Aboriginal people in parts of Canada as food when mixed with other fruit such as Saskatoons.The inner bark was apparently dried and mixed with sumac to produce a type of tobacco used in pipes.
Economic Importance: It has been used extensively in both wildlife and shelterbelt plantings.The fruit is not usually eaten. Its red bark has made it a popular landscape specimen.
Description: Saskatoon is a large shrub, growing from 1 to 4 metres. It has a simple rounded leaf with prominent veining. New leaves will have downy white hair. Among the first shrubs to bloom in early May, it produces small, white flowers that become sweet, purple berries. The stems and branches are dark brown in color. It is also known as juneberry and serviceberry in other parts of the country or continent.
Distribution: This plant is common in ravines, coulees and open woodlands throughout the Prairie provinces. It is found from western Ontario to B.C. and the Yukon Territory.
Historical Uses: Saskatoon berries were an ingredient of pemmican — a common food staple for First Nations people and early settlers. The wood has been used to make arrows, canes, pipestems, digging sticks, spears, canoe cross-pieces and rims for birch bark baskets. The city of Saskatoon may be named for this plant. According to early records, surveyors in the area thought the Indian name for the plant — Mis-sask-quah-toomina — sounded like “Saskatoon”, hence the area’s name.
Economic Importance: Processing the berries into pies, jams, syrups, candies, etc., has become a prairie cottage industry. The shrubs are often used in wildlife plantings, where they provide shelter and food for birds and other animals.
Description: This coniferous tree grows 15-18 meters. It has needles grouped in pairs, twisted and blue-green in colouring. Cones are green to light brown, smooth, curved and cling closely to stems. It is conspicuous because of its orangish-red, peeling bark. As the tree matures, the crown tends to have a more open, broad form.
Distribution: Scot’s pine is a non-native species, introduced from Siberia. It is widely adapted to all regions of Saskatchewan.
Economic Importance: Scot’s pine has been used extensively as a shelterbelt species on the Prairies. When young it also provides wildlife habitat in the form of thermal cover (protection from weather extremes) and food for deer.
Description: This silver shrub grows about 3-4m tall and wide. It has long, thin leaves and large bright yelloworange berries that form in clusters close to the primary branches.The smooth, grey bark gives rise to 4-5cm long sharp thorns.
Distribution: This plant was introduced to Canada from Europe and Asia. It is most common in the prairie provinces. It can survive in temperatures from -43Cto +40C. It can tolerate drought but prefers moist,well-drained soils.
Historical Use: All parts of the Sea Buckthorn have been used in Europe and Asia for hundreds of years due to its nutritional and medicinal properties. It has been used to produce pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, teas, animal feed, foods and beverages.
Economic Importance: Sea Buckthorn is native to Europe and Asia but was introduced to the prairies as an ornamental plant in the 1930s. It was soon cultivated as a shelterbelt and reclamation species due to its tolerance for cold, drought and salt, as well as its ability to prevent erosion.
Description: Siberian Larch is a conifer (cone bearing) tree, but not evergreen, as it loses its needles in the fall. It is pyrimidal in shape and will grow up to 15 m (50 ft). It is relatively fast growing when compared to other conifers, and can grow up to 0.5 m per year. Its branches arch upward at the tip. It has a relatively non-competitive root system.
Distribution: Larch is not native to Canada, originating in northeastern Russia and western Siberia. It is adapted to a wide range of soil types on the prairies. It is not tolerant to flooding, but can withstand some drought and is moderately tolerant of saline conditions.
Economic Importance: Siberian Larch is widely distributed in the prairies for shelterbelt plantings. It makes for an ideal field shelterbelt because its open winter form allows for even snow distribution. Its bright yellow foliage in fall also makes it a beautiful landscape tree.
Description: A large shrub growing to 4 metres (15 feet) in height. Branches tend to grow at right angles to the stem with spines present at the tip. Leaves are a silvery colour and round in shape. Small, yellowish flowers appear in May-June. Plants are either male or female, therefore both sexes must be present for fruit to occur. Bright red clusters of berries appear on the stems of the female plants in mid summer.
Distribution: This shrub is found across Western Canada. It is particularly common on light soils in coulees, river valleys, around sloughs and in low meadows. Its ability to fix nitrogen allows it to survive on nutrient-poor soils.
Historical Uses: The name is thought to be derived from the Indian practice of putting a sauce made from the fruit of this shrub on buffalo meat.The berries have also been used as medicine for stomach troubles and as a laxative.
Economic Importance: The fruit has been used commercially to make jam. Because of the high saponin content (a digestive system irritant), berries should be consumed in limited quantities.The shrub has been used extensively in shelterbelts and wildlife plantings. Its sprawling nature makes it unsuitable for small urban landscapes.
Description: A large tree growing to 20-30 metres. It is conspicuous because of its “noisy leaf” from which it derives its name. Its ovate leaves, which come to an abrupt point at the tip, appear to “quake” in the wind. The tree has greyish-white bark that darkens and becomes furrowed with age. Although reproduction is mainly through root suckers, aspens produce a cottony seed that is released from pod-like structures. Aspen have both male and female trees (dioecious).
Distribution: Aspen are found across Canada. In the Prairies, they are common in low spots where moisture is abundant. They are usually succeeded by conifers in the Boreal forest.
Historical Uses: Settlers harvested the inner bark of the tree for “bitter tonics”, believed to relieve the pain and swelling caused by rheumatism and arthritis.
Economic Importance: Used in pulpwood production and for veneer and plywood. It is one of the first plants to establish after a forest fire so it is important in helping to prevent erosion and providing protection to newly emerging conifers. It is a preferred food for beavers. The young twigs and leaves are browsed by deer, as is the bark during food shortages.
Western Red Lily
Lilium philadelphicum L. var. andinum
Description: The Western red lily is the only wild lily that grows in Saskatchewan. It can range from the common orange speckled type, to deep red, to a brilliant yellow. Each stem can bear from one to as many as six flowers.
Habitat: The Western red lily is found in moist areas throughout the grassland, parkland and southern boreal areas of Saskatchewan.This lily can be found widely spread throughout many areas of North America. Habitat destruction has caused a decline in lily populations over the last several decades.
Historical Significance: The Western red lily became Saskatchewan’s provincial emblem in 1941. It is now protected under The Provincial Emblems and Honours Act. This Act prohibits picking, digging, or destroying all or part of a Western red lily in Saskatchewan.
Planting the Western Red Lily: These lilies grow best in well-drained, weed-free soil.They should be planted so that the bulb is completely covered, with a light topdressing. Regular watering will increase survival and growth of the lily.
Description: A fast growing open form shrub with narrow, smooth, silvery-green leaves. Clusters of white flowers develop in late May to early June. Flowers are “perfect” having both male and female flower parts pollinated by insects. Dark purple edible berries form in late July to early August. Height may reach 0.5 to 2 metres. Bark is reddish brown developing a silver hue with age. Prefers partial shade to full sun.
Distribution: Native from Manitoba to the southern states, it has been introduced to the prairies. Sandcherry prefers well drained, sandy sites but is adapted to a range of soil types and moisture conditions.
Historical Uses: A green dye can be made from its leaves.
Economic Importance: Varieties and cultivars of this plant are used in landscaping. Fruit is used domestically for making jams, jellies and juice.This shrub is often used in shelterbelts and environmental plantings as a food source for wildlife
Description: Tall coniferous (evergreen) tree growing from 7 to 20 metres (21 to 60 feet) tall. The bark is brown and scaly. The branches tend to droop slightly. Needles are blue-green in colour but often display a whitish bloom. When crushed the needles emit a distinct “skunky” odour. The soft cones can be up to 5.5 cm long and the needles are square in cross-section.
Distribution: Common throughout Canada except in the southern portion of the Prairies.
Historical Uses: Tree roots were used by aboriginal people to lace birch bark on canoes because of their pliable nature. Young shoots can be steeped in a refreshing tea and the seeds and inner bark can be eaten in an emergency. The leaves can be burned to repel insects and the oil can be distilled and used to flavour gum and candy.
Economic Importance: One of the most important lumber and pulp species in Canada. It has also been used extensively in shelterbelts in most regions of the Prairies.
Description: This shrub grows 3-5m tall and spreads about 2.5m. It is rapid growing and can live over 50 years.The leaves are thick and dark green with smooth edges.The flowers appear in mid to late June and range from purple to white.The flowers produce a distinctive scent and form flat, woody seed capsules.This shrub is drought and sun tolerant and does not sucker.
Distribution: This species was introduced to Canada from Mongolia and China. It prefers well-drained, clay or loam soils and is very winter hardy.
Historical Uses: The wood of the lilac is extremely hard and the heart wood can be quite colourful. As a result, the wood was used for engraving, musical instruments, knife handles, etc. It was also prized as a landscape shrub due to its beautiful flowers and non-suckering habit.
Economic Importance: The Villosa Lilac is used as a shelterbelt or windbreak shrub and is prized as an ornamental. It is not a food source for wildlife, but can provide good nesting habitat for song birds.