My Action Post #2: Identifying Plants in Mundy Park

Hello everyone!

I am super excited to share what I have accomplished so far for my action, and what I am planning in the next upcoming weeks. 

In my previous post, my action project plan, I discussed the details of my action and what I will be trying to raise awareness for in the process. In case you haven’t read my last post, I am planning to organize nature walks as well as science explorations in Mundy Park as a way to inform others about the importance of preserving our land, and the importance of women in the sciences. However, I hope that these nature walks also allow people the chance to explore, and make observations in one our wonderful local parks. 

Since my last post, I had the amazing opportunity to meet with Mr. Cowie, an Aboriginal Education and Resource Teacher who works within School District 43. This was the first step in my project plan, as I plan to lead my own nature walks very soon. I felt I should first gain more knowledge and information and learn more about plants in the park so that I can excel in leading my own nature walks! On Wednesday,  October 9th, 2019, Mr. Cowie and I took a walk through Mundy Park, and I was able to learn about different types of plants, trees, and vegetation found in the park. Some of these plants I was familiar with, but there were many plants I had never noticed before. 

As we observed many plants within the forest, Mr. Cowie told me the how Aboriginal people have discovered amazing uses for these plants. Below, I outline some of the plants Mr. Cowie and I looked at. 

The first thing Mr. Cowie helped me understand when observing a specific plant, tree, or fruit bush is to ask three main questions: 

  1. Can I eat it?
  2. Is it medicine? 
  3. Can I make something out of it? (material/technology)

Almost every plant provides some purpose, and many of these purposes were first discovered by Aboriginal people through curiosity and experimentation. No one told them which plants could be sources of food, medicine or materials, they discovered this on their own. Over time, people passed down this experience and knowledge to younger generations, and the uses of these plants became known to everyone in the communities.  

Here is a list of some of the plants I got to observe during the walk!

Western Bracken Fern 

Western Bracken Fern



  • The “toilet paper” or “paper towel” of the forest 
  • The leaves are durable, and have a big enough surface area to be used for many tasks 


Food and Medicine

  • Fruit of the forest
  • You can eat the fruit  
  • The leaves can be used for tea as a medicinal drink



  • Chickweed is sort of like salad
  • Mr. Cowie had me try it and I could definitely see the similarity
  • In fact, I learned that many chefs will actually use chickweed on top of salads as an extra garnish for flavour


Food and Medicine

  • Dandelion is actually an invasive plant that was brought here 
  • It is a Food plant 
    • It is like a bitter lettuce 
  • There is milk in it which makes it bitter, but the milk has numbing properties that can be used for wounds and cuts 
  • Interestingly, dandelion wine can be made from the petals too    

Trailing blackberry 


  • It is the original blackberry 
  • It can be easily noticed due to its beautiful blue stock 
Trailing Blackberry

Skunk cabbage


  • The saran wrap of the forest
  • The big leaves can be used to cover things like food 
  • It can repel water, I felt the leaves and they had a smooth, thick texture   
Skunk Cabbage

Deer fern


  • Indigenous people knew, and settlers discovered that when a deer dropped their horns it would rub their head on these ferns to soothe their head
  • In this way, the healing/soothing properties of the deer fern were discovered 
Deer Fern

As Mr. Cowie showed me multiple plants in the forest, he also pointed out the small ways to be able to identify them. Through these small pointers, I can quickly identify some of the trees we looked at: 

Western Red Cedar Tree


  • How to identify: 
    • The leaves are small, and almost look scaly 
    • It has red/brown, long bark 
  • This is considered the tree of life because it provides many useful materials 
    • It can be made into soft wood planks used for the siding on houses  
      • Cedar actually sheds water, which is why it is widely used for houses, to keep them dry and water repellant 
Western Red Cedar Tree

Douglas Fir Tree (“the mouse tree”)


  • How to identify:  
    • The bark is very thick and rigid, unlike cedar 
  • An interesting story Mr. Cowie told me: the Douglas Fir is nicknamed the “mouse tree” because its pinecones protected mice from forest fires. 
    • In fact, Mr. Cowie showed me how the pinecone looks like it has little mouse tails sticking out!
  • The trees is also a Technology tree
    • The wood is used to build houses and many other items

Western Hemlock Tree

Food, Medicine, and Technology

  • How to identify:  
    • The bark is not as thick as the Douglas Fir  
    • Rubbing the leaves on your hands will make your hands smell very citrusy because there is vitamin C in the leaves (Mr. Cowie nicknames it the “Lemon Tree”!) 
  • The leaves can act as an appetite suppressant until you are able to find food 
  • The dry needles can also be used for tea 
Western Hemlock smell very citrusy!

Sword fern 

Food, Medicine and Material

  • How to identify:
    • Look underneath for the spores 
  • It is a vegetable in the spring 
  • Can be used for bedding or floors 
  • You can rub the spores on your skin to keep mosquitoes away 
Sword Fern
Underside of the Sword Fern


Food! (but be careful)

  • How to identify:
    • I found this quite funny, but very cool too. Mr. Cowie pointed out that the leaves actually kind of smell like peanut butter, and it’s true!
  • You cannot eat these berries raw
    • Aboriginal people discovered that the chemical process from heating them up would remove the toxin that made them poisonous, making them edible 
    • The elders knew this and passed it along over generations so people would continue to know



  • This is an invasive species within Mundy Park 
  • Observing the Holly and its presence in the park led me and Mr. Cowie into a discussion about the ways in which these invasive plants are brought here and spread 
    • When settlers came here, they brought plants with them not native to this area
    • Birds drop the seeds from these plants into our forests, causing more of these invasive plants to grow. Bears can eat them, then fertilize the forest in other areas continuing the spread of the invasive plant.

Alder Tree


  • How to identify:
    • The tree is covered in white “paint splotches”
  • Commonly used to smoke salmon 
  • You can also boil down the inner bark or root to produce a reddish dye 
Alder Tree


Medicine and Food

  • How to Identify:
    • Oval shape leaf
    • Also, it grows almost everywhere, even on grass soccer fields 
    • **Plant Plantain, not the banana!
  • This is the best medicine in the forest 
    • It has healing properties that help heal bee stings and cuts 
  • It is also a source of food 
    • Kind of like spinach 
    • You can steam it and cook it 

Vine maple 


  • Flexible wood
  • Used for shelters 

Liquorice Fern


  • It has a very similar taste to cold medicine (I even tried it!) 
Liquorice Fern

I am very thankful to have learned so much from Mr. Cowie during this walk. Of course, however, there is still so much Mr. Cowie and I didn’t get the chance to cover. Mundy Park is filled with hundreds of different plants, so it would be impossible to identify them all in just one visit! For this reason, the nature walks I plan to lead won’t just let me help others learn and explore, I will also be learning in the process too. Collaborating with others will give me a chance to use this new knowledge I have gained from my walk with Mr. Cowie, but it will also let me continue to expand my knowledge, because there is still so much to learn and see! 

As an additional resource, Mr. Cowie introduced me to some apps that can help me identify plants as well. By taking a picture of a specific plant, tree, leaf, bush etc. it will provide the name of the plant and some other interesting information. I will definitely be using this tool for my nature walks! 

Next week, I am going to be taking part in another nature excursion with Ms. Stuart and some students from Baker Drive Elementary, where we will identify plants, make observations and explore. This is the perfect “stepping stone” to get ready for leading my own nature walks. I think it will also be a great way to see how younger children interact with the forest, and it will provide me with more opportunity to learn about the park for myself! I will be sure to discuss the details of this event in my next post! 

Moving forward, I am going to start organizing and planning my nature walks. I want to start with the nature walks first and see how it goes before planning the science explorations and pond studies. The reason would be so that I could possibly get some of the people who join my nature walks interested, and perhaps spread the word to friends and people in the community. 

For my next post, this is what I hope to have accomplished:

  • Set a date for a meeting to introduce my plans to people interested in joining
  • Start to spread the word about the Nature walks
    • Create posters for the school outlining details and the date of the first meeting
    • Have the first meeting put on the announcements and daily informer 
    • Create an instagram account to attract more people 
  • Possibly set the date for the first walk…

Slowly but surely, I am crossing out the steps in my plan! I am excited to see what these next steps will bring! 

Thank you for reading! 

All comments, ideas, and suggestions are welcome! 🙂 

Until my next post, 

– Madison Ciulla

3 Replies to “My Action Post #2: Identifying Plants in Mundy Park”

  1. Hello Madison! first off thank you so much for commenting on my inquiry post. I really liked your suggestion! Your post is so informative. I think it’s really cool how you want to make people aware of our land and I think it’s also really cool that you want to promote women in sciences. I think you are definately on the right track and you have already taken so many steps to accomplishing your action plan. I also remember going on a nature walk with mr. Cowie just last year and I really enjoyed it so I can imagine yours will also be a success. You mentioned that you found an app that can identify certain plants. So maybe in the future you could make a little book with all your findings and some information about each plant that you could use in your nature walks or you could create a scavenger hunt with the book where the participants have to find and identify the plant. Hopefully my comment helps! good luck in the future 🙂

  2. Hi Madison,
    Amazing post! I really like how you made it very detailed and did so much for your action route. I think you’ll learn a lot from doing the nature excursion with Ms Stuart and the children! When you start leading nature walks, I think the experience will help you a lot. I’m not sure which ages you’ll be taking on the walk with Ms Stuart and the ones where you lead, but I feel like either way you’ll get an experience of leading people around and being who they look up, which is great. Also I think when you advertise, you should also maybe give some sort of treat to people who do come, to encourage them to come so they can see how enjoyable it will be!

    Good luck!

  3. Hey Madison!

    Wow! What a great, detailed post! I remember doing a similar activity in grade nine with Mr Cowie so your research was a great refresher for me. The addition of the photos was really helpful and I encourage you to continue using photos as much as you can in your next posts as well.

    I’m excited to hear about how your walk with the children of Baker Elementary goes. I actually did quite a few activities with kids from that school for my Leadership class last year, and it was a great experience. However, sometimes working with children has its own challenges – I look forward to hearing about if you had any and how you overcame them in your next post! 🙂

    Overall, great job!

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