Skip to main content
Go to the Homepage

As I’ve become more familiar with Bay Area plants over the years, it

Thimbleberry – photo by eakspeasyFlickr Creative Commons
A thimbleberry plant. Photo by eakspeasyFlickr Creative Commons

is difficult for me to go hiking and not think to myself, “Yum, blackberry—oh look, bay laurel—I didn’t know horsetail grew around here.”

If you go hiking with me, I will inevitably make you touch or smell some plant along the trail whether you want to or not—I guess that is the teacher in me.

And as a teacher, I learned that if you just show a kid a plant, they may not remember the name of it; but if you tell them an interesting fact about it, or how it relates to their lives, there is a better chance that that knowledge will stick.

So what sort of interesting facts and stories might the plants of a redwood forest tell us? If you were stranded in a redwood forest, would you be able to survive?

First let’s think about food—you need to be able to eat. There are many berry plants you could snack on, including huckleberry, blackberry and

Huckleberry
A huckleberry plant.

thimbleberry. Additionally, you could go through the complicated process of gathering and shelling acorns from oak and tanoak trees; or pick a few hazelnuts from the California hazelnut plant. If you happen to find some miner’s lettuce, that would be great to munch on as well. (Thimbleberry and hazelnut would also make great toilet paper, as their leaves are soft and fuzzy!)

If you happen to get sick or injured, red alder—which contains salicin, a chemical similar to aspirin, in its bark—may be able to help you. The pungent California bay laurel was used by natives to help with headaches and stomach pains. Put a rolled-up bay leaf in your nose and your headache is gone!

When nighttime comes, you will want to pile up some sword ferns to create a nice bed inside a cozy redwood tree goose pen.

Goose pen
A redwood goose pen.

This is by no means a complete list to the many plants in a redwood forest which can be useful to you in a time of need, but hopefully this gives you at least one interesting story to tell a friend next time you are hiking together. And remember, many forest plants look alike—don’t ingest any wild flora without being absolutely sure of what they are!


Tags: , , , , , , , ,


About Deborah Zierten

Deborah joined the League's staff in 2013 as the Education & Interpretation Manager. She brings with her extensive experience teaching science, developing curriculum and connecting kids to the natural world.


Share this Article


Government Shutdown? Get Outside Anyway!

Has the government shutdown stymied your grand plans to visit a national park? While our beloved national parks and monuments are closed indefinitely, lots of other beautiful state parks and reserves are still open! Take this opportunity to explore a … Continued


Preparing our Properties for Future Landowners to Manage Sustainably

Recently our Conservation Science Manager and I set out into one of the League-owned forests to map its trees. We wanted to know where the younger redwoods are located, in order to determine where a future landowner of the property … Continued


Leave a Reply