Welcome to our website, dear readers. Birch belongs to the Betulaceae (birch) family, as well as hazel, hornbeam and alder. This is a deciduous tree that grows in countries with a cool climate. Contrary to popular belief, there are as many as 60 types of birches (and not just one, as many people think). And birch bark is not only white, but also gray, silver, yellow and even black.
And this is not all the interesting facts that can be told about the trees of this family.
This is not the longest living tree. The average life expectancy of birches is about 40-50 years, which for the same oaks is only the beginning of their fruiting. In especially favorable conditions, it can live up to 200 years, but this is rather an exception. Most often, after 50 years, trees of the genus Betula begin to get sick en masse, which leads to their drying and death.
Birches are relatively low trees. Their average height is 12 meters. If we talk about individual species, namely paper and yellow birches, then they can grow up to 24 meters in height.
The indigenous peoples of the Americas (Indians) discovered that they could use birch (especially its bark) for a variety of daily needs. From the bark of trees, they built wigwams and other residential buildings, and also built canoes. Birch bark is very light (the top layer of its bark), so even one person could easily carry a canoe made from this material. At the same time, despite its lightness, such a canoe could withstand an impressive weight.
Birch wood is flammable, burns well, does not crack even when wet and freshly cut. The bark burns very well due to the oils it contains and can also be used in place of paper to light a fire. That is why it is an excellent companion for travelers traveling in regions with a humid climate or caught in heavy torrential rain.
Birch bark has been used as paper for centuries. The oldest dated birch bark manuscripts are numerous Gandharani Buddhist texts written around the 1st century AD.
The ideal growing environment for this tree is moist soil with plenty of sunlight. However, birches also grow on poorer soils. They can easily take root on acidic soils, due to which they are among the pioneer species. Pioneer species (or pioneer species) are hardy plant species that are the first to colonize barren environments or previously destroyed ecosystems, such as by fire, etc.
It can be easily recognized by the dark markings on the bark, reminiscent of the shape of diamonds or arrows. Since the birch bark is very dense and smooth in its structure, through these marks (they have a looser structure) the tree breathes (carries out gas exchange). These marks are called lentils. For the sake of justice, it is worth noting that not only birch trees have lentils, but also other trees.
Almost 20% of the existing birch species are on the verge of extinction and are listed in the IUCN Red List.
It is considered an unofficial symbol of the Russian Federation and many are sure that this particular tree is the national symbol of our country. But actually it is not. The national tree of Russia is larch. It is believed that this tree accounts for up to 40% of the entire forest area covering the territory of the Russian Federation.
But in Finland, the birch is considered the national tree.
The famous birch sap is obtained from this tree. This is a liquid flowing from cut and broken birch trunks and branches under the action of root pressure. This drink was incredibly popular in the USSR. This juice contains a large amount of vitamin B6.
Birch brooms are the most popular bath brooms. They bypass in their popularity even brooms made of oak, linden, maple, poplar, etc.
In folk medicine, a decoction of birch bark is actively used. This decoction helps with SARS, kidney problems, jaundice, etc. Steamed birch bark was previously used as gypsum for fractures.
This plant plays an important role in forest food chains. Its bark, leaves, branches, roots, fruits serve as food for a variety of animals. For moose, birch bark is one of the main sources of food in the winter season.
It provides food and habitat for a huge number of insects. Its leaves attract aphids, which serve as food for ladybugs and other types of insects. The leaves are also food for many caterpillars.
In early Celtic mythology, a tree of this genus symbolized renewal and purification. Bundles of birch branches were used by the Celts to exorcise the spirits of the old year.
During the dry distillation of birch bark, tar is formed. It is used in medicine and veterinary medicine, most often as an anti-inflammatory and antiseptic agent. The same tar is an integral component of tar soap and a variety of ointments and creams used to treat skin diseases.
Birch groves or forests are characterized by the presence of mycorrhiza-forming fungi near the trees (a symbiotic association of fungal mycelium with the roots of higher plants). Mushrooms that like to cooperate with birches include: common boletus, marsh or turning pink; white fungus birch; black breast; pink wave; russula green, yellow, food.
Her root system is strong, but shallow. Therefore, trees growing in the city can damage paved roads and sidewalks.
From her kidneys, by steam distillation, an essential oil is obtained. This oil has a pale yellow hue and a woody aroma. Used in perfumery, aromatherapy and added to various hygiene products (shampoos, soaps, etc.).
This concludes our article, dear readers. We hope that the information was useful not only for children, but also for an older audience.