People are learning the difference between soapberry, juniper, kinnickinick and other local plants in Yukon.
Guided walks have been proving popular in Whitehorse this summer. Guides point out which plants are edible and how plants were traditionally used by local Indigenous people.
Sarjana Amin is a trail guide with the Yukon Conservation Society. This is her second summer guiding walks around Miles Canyon.
“We get a lot of tourists and people who are new to the territory. People are always really shocked to learn about the plants because we all kind of forget these plants have different uses. You can do so much with them. They’re not just these stationary objects,” she says.
One example is the juniper berries. While not particularly good to eat, the berries can be dried and put in a pepper grinder and used as a seasoning for wild game or fish.
Amin calls Yukon fireweed ‘wild asparagus’ and says it can be eaten in a salad or stir-fry.
However she warns people to watch out for kinnikinnick. The berries resemble a cranberry but are toxic if eaten in too large a quantity.
On August 4, the Yukon Conservation Society’s walk had about 40 people tagging along.
Tessie Aujla is another of the guides who has learned to identify and point out different species of trees. “We have the white spruce here and a lot of people here are surprised when I tell them you can use the white spruce tips to make beer,” she says.
The Conservation Society’s walks last about an hour. There is no fee for admission through tips are accepted. The Conservation Society says the idea fits with their mandate of promoting conservation and appreciation for the local environment.