Musqueam Plants

tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ (The Houses of the Ones Belonging to the Saltwater) is our newest residence community at UBC. The xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Nation generously gifted the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓-language residence and house names to UBC in spring 2021.

A number of plants with cultural significance for xʷməθkʷəy̓əm were planted at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ, with signage installed to provide the UBC community with information about them.

Explore the plants below to learn more from xʷməθkʷəy̓əm about the importance of each one and listen to hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ audio pronunciations by Elder Larry Grant.

Plus, visit the signage installation at tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ. You will also find many of these plants growing at our other student residence areas and across the UBC Vancouver campus.

Explore the plants

Douglas fir branch

Douglas fir has many uses. The wood was used for a variety of purposes, the thick bark of mature trees was ideal for fires, and the pitch was used as a glue and sealant.


Pacific Yew

The hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ name for pacific yew translates as “bow tree”. The straight grain and hardness of the wood make it ideal for bows. Deer could still be hunted near UBC into the mid-1900s.


Vine Maple


Similar to tə́χʷacəɬp (yew tree), sic̓əɬp wood can also be used for bows. Springy vine maples were used to make trap doors in our fortification near UBC at q̓ələχən.

The fruit from crab apples can be saved in rain water then cooked and eaten later. The wood was used for tools such as clubs for hunting and fishing. qʷəʔapəɬp is also noted in place names, such as the location of what became St. Mungo’s cannery on the Fraser River’s South Arm and a creek at Spanish Banks in Burrard Inlet.


Fresh edible shoots of salmonberry, thimbleberry, and related plants

Douglas fir branch

Salmonberries and fresh shoots were an important food source. They were so important to our ancestors that a season in May and June was called təm lileʔ (time of the salmonberry).


Dwarf Oregon grape

Dwarf Oregon Grape, blue berries with green leaves

The berries of this plant can be eaten; the roots were used to make a yellow dye.


Tall Oregon Grape

Tall Oregon Grape, yellow blossoms and green leaves

Known to have several health benefits, the berries of this plant can be eaten and were used in berry cakes; the roots were used to make a yellow dye for weaving.



Pink spirea blossoms with green leaves and stem

The root of this plant’s name, t̕ec̓, is the word for the sticks used as cross pieces to spread salmon when drying or cooking, as this wood is ideal for these purposes. Similar to qeθəɬp (ocean spray), the wood can be fire hardened.


Ocean Spray

White Ocean Spray blossoms and green-brown stem

This plant has very hard wood, which can be hardened more by heating it over the fire. It was used for making tools such as digging sticks, hunting gear, mat needles and fishing equipment such as spears and harpoon shafts.


Salal Bush

Dark green Salal leaves and light green stem

Used as a sweetener, the salal berry is at its peak in August and can be eaten when ripe or dried and stored for future use.

Learn more


Learn more about the hən̓q̓əmin̓əm̓ language:

tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ

Learn more about tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ (The Houses of the Ones Belonging to Saltwater) student residence.

Learn how to pronounce tə šxʷhəleləm̓s tə k̓ʷaƛ̓kʷəʔaʔɬ
Names at Totem Park

Learn more about the names at Totem Park, where Musqueam gifted the names of three residence houses: c̓əsnaʔəm (2017), həm̓ləsəm̓ (2011) and q̓ələχən (2011).