the tree of the northern hemisphere, still full of mystery, beauty and wonder!
The birch has been revered as a cult and medicinal plant for thousands of years. They were probably already known in the original home of the Indo-Europeans, because their name occurs in Sanskrit as well as in Germanic and Slavic peoples. Since birch trees were among the first trees in Europe after the Ice Age, local cultures are very closely connected to this tree. Almost everywhere the birch stands for spring, the new beginning and the feminine.
The Celts saw the birch tree as a strong tree of light that contained knowledge of the essentials. Therefore the Celts consecrated the birch on June 24th. It is the third day after the summer solstice. The parallel with Christianity is interesting, where Christmas falls on the third day after the winter solstice.
They belong to the birch family (Betulaceae).
Birches are deciduous, deciduous trees or shrubs. They belong to the very fast and high-growing trees and can reach heights of up to 7 meters after just six years; fully grown, they can be up to 30 meters, in individual cases even higher. The birch trees grow with single or often with several trunks. Single specimens can reach an age of up to 160 years.
Birch species make only minor demands on soil and climate. They thrive on dry as well as wet soils, in heather areas, on dunes and on moorland.
The approximately 100 Birch species occur in large parts of the northern hemisphere, in Europe, in North America and in Asia to Japan.
The bark of the birch is particularly noticeable, its color ranges from almost black to dark and light brown to white; it is smooth at first, later thin, often paper-like pieces peel off, and finally it tears open horizontally. .
The light and, depending on the species, soft to more or less hard wood of the birch is almost white to reddish-brown with a fine grain. The branches are sometimes fragrant. In the overall picture, birch wood is a light-colored, very decorative timber. Special features are the flame patterns that occur especially in the sand birch, which can be traced back to the strongly irregular fiber courses. The most expensive type is the Karelian burl birch, whose characteristic grain is characterized by dark crescent-shaped deposits and particularly wild, irregular structures.
It is only natural that the birch is the symbol of Estonia and is considered a national symbol in Russia, Finland and Poland, comparable to the “German oak”
Every part of the tree was used.
Birch wood cannot be used as construction timber because of its low load-bearing capacity and durability. It is a light and fine-grained wood. It was used to make wooden shoes and clothespins, among other things. It is easy to carve and turn, but difficult to split. In Germany, birch wood is mainly used as peeled veneer or processed into plywood panels. Solid wood and veneers are also used to make furniture. Nordic wood carvers make traditional drinking vessels from the burl wood. The chip maker was dependent on the birch trees. Chips and sands from this wood are the best as they hardly produce any smoke. These were used to shine in winter. Next to it, the birch rod, a tied bundle of defoliated birch twigs, was the most popular instrument of punishment in Central Europe, Northern Europe, and Northern Asia for centuries.
A Nordic or Russian sauna without birch branches – almost unthinkable.
Decorative firewood is also popular as firewood. Thanks to the essential oils, birch wood burns even when it is fresh.
From birch bark, art objects and objects of daily use have been made and are still being made. The bark contains phytosterols as well as terpenes such as betulin, betulinic acid and lupeol. You can find more details about birch bark and its products here !!
For around 40,000 years, birch pitch has been proven to be the first systematically produced plastic in human history to connect, and indeed permanently, to connect stone wedges, plant fibers and wooden handles.
The leaves ( Betulae folium ) of most birch species contain significant amounts of flavonoids, saponins, tannins, essential oils and vitamin C. Birch leaf tea is blood-purifying, diuretic and stimulating. In herbal medicine, it is used for rheumatism, gout and dropsy
Betulae folium (birch leaves)