trees have a root systems that mirror the above ground part of
the trees. Many of the long, slender, even roots grow very close
to the ground surface, tapering only from 1 inch to 1/8 inch in
diameter over a span of six feet. The strong roots of Black Spruce make
sturdy lashings, and they are ideal for sewing and lacing bark
containers, canoes and other items.
By poking a few inches into the ground around the base of a spruce
tree, a root can usually be located, and then pulled, following
the root to its end several yards from the tree. The roots had
to be stripped of their bark using a forked implement through
the root was pulled. After the root bark removal, the root would
be split in half down its length. If the root was especially
large, or fine lacing was needed, the root could be split (using
the same technique to split willow) into quarters or eighths with
patience. The roots were always soaked in warm water, or heated
over a fire, rejuvenate the sap and making the lacing more flexible.
Gathering one or two roots from a live tree normally doesn't
threaten the life of the tree. Over-harvesting roots a single
tree will kill it. Roots can also be gathered, with little loss
of workablity, from dead or fallen spruces.
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© 1994-2000 Tara Prindle.