Huckleberry Hound was called the man of a thousand faces, even though he was only able to make only one face. In Carleton Place there is a group of lone face trees that are extremely rare in Ontario. I have called them a multitude of names from Tackberry to what a lot of people call them “Hackaberry”. So to remember the Hackberry trees, I think of Huckleberry Hound.
I was always told that Hackberry trees were noxious weeds. Our park of trees is the largest grouping of Hackberry trees in eastern Ontario. They are native to the area and are thought to have been brought here by the indigenous peoples for their medicinal qualities. In 1952 there was one lone tree left in Ottawa near Brewer Park and the George Dunbar bridge. It had a white picket fence around it, and a sign “Do Not Destroy”. Charlotte Whitton, who is rumoured to be from Carleton Place, insisted these trees be protected. As Huck would say, “You know, that’s a mighty fine looking tree-we should keep them around for a spell”
Hackberry trees have smooth, gray bark that often has corky warts or ridges. The tree may reach 39 meters in height. The tree bears small, round berries that can be eaten when they are ripe and fall from the tree. The wood of the Hackberry is yellowish, and as my Father told me “not good for much”. With the name Hackberry, it’s not really a name that screams “eat me” either!
Not since the sighting of Dinky Dalton has there been a tree like the Hackberry. It provides exceptional medicinal needs. The berries have been used to treat abnormal menstrual flow, colic, peptic ulcers, diarrhea and dysentery as well as being used as a pain killer. A decoction made from the bark was used by certain Native American tribes to treat sore throats and venereal diseases. Even modern scientists have begun to recognize the tree’s antioxidant and cytotoxic properties.
My parents would grumble and mutter about the trees taking over, spreading through the backyard, and dropping its litter of berries underfoot. I must admit, as a child, I could never quite muster the same dislike my parents felt. Perhaps it was my growing fondness for trees in general, or perhaps it was an innate urge to root for the underdog that compelled me to like this tree.
Next time you pass this grove of trees on Mill Street in Carleton Place take notice because:
“Oh my Darling, Oh my Darling,
Oh my Darling Clementine.
Thank goodness you are NOT lost and gone forever,
AND you’re not a regular Pine”.
Buy Linda Secaspina’s Books— Flashbacks of Little Miss Flash Cadilac– Tilting the Kilt-Vintage Whispers of Carleton Place and 4 others on Amazon or Amazon Canada or Wisteria at 62 Bridge Street in Carleton Place