At the water's edge grow two trees I hadn't yet had the pleasure of meeting up close. The profusely papery river birch makes not only a striking visual display, but superb fire tinder. My son collected a nice big bag along side his cattails, to bring to his Pioneers day on Thursdays.
This beautiful starfish leaf is that of the Liquidambar, or Sweet Gum. I can't help but hear the old song I learned as a young child about the Kookaburra, who lives in the old gum tree. (Merry merry king of the woods is he :)
There is plenty of writing on how the sweet gum sap is used. But little on how the leaf is used. As a home herbalist, I can't imagine going through the long laborious process of reducing the pitch, but I sure would like to know how I can make good use of the intensely fragrant leaves. The smell is rich and sharp, like camphor and peaches, or mint and incense. Peculiar and wonderful. A smell that makes me think of good uses, like healing skin infections or as a scalp tonic.