Missing image

Silver Birch trunk
Scientific classification

Many species;
see text and classification

Birch is the name of any tree of the genus Betula, in the family Betulaceae, closely related to the beech/oak family, Fagaceae. These are generally small to medium-size trees or shrubs, mostly of northern temperate climates. The simple leaves may be toothed or lobed. The fruit is a small samara, although the wings may be obscure in some species. They differ from the alders (Alnus, the other genus in the family) in that the female catkins are not woody and disintegrate at maturity, falling apart to release the seeds, unlike the woody cone-like female alder catkins.

Birch is used as a food plant by a large number of Lepidoptera species including Emperor Moth, Oak Hook-tip, Large Emerald, Common Emerald, Common Marbled Carpet, November Moth, Autumnal Moth, Brimstone Moth, Purple Thorn, Scalloped Hazel, Feathered Thorn, Dotted Border, Mottled Umber, Willow Beauty, Mottled Beauty, The Engrailed, Common White Wave, Light Emerald, Lime Hawk-moth, Coxcomb Prominent, Yellow-tail, Buff Ermine and Double Square-spot.


1 Uses
2 See also
3 External links


Birches of North America include
Birches of Europe and Asia include
Note: many American texts have B. pendula and B. pubescens confused, though they are distinct species with different chromosome numbers


Birches are versatile trees, used for many purposes. The sap, bark, leaves, wood, twigs, and roots are used for food, construction materials, medicinal treatments, lubricants, and other practical applications.

Extracts of birch are used for flavoring or leather oil, and in cosmetics such as soap or shampoo. In the past, commercial oil of wintergreen (methyl salicylate) was made from the Sweet Birch (Betula lenta). Birch tar, extracted from birch bark, was used as a lubricant and for medicinal purposes.

Birch leaves are used to make a diuretic tea and to make extracts for dyes and cosmetics. Birch sap is drunk as a tonic or rendered into birch syrup, vinegar, beer, soft drinks, and other foods.

Many of the First Nations of North America prized the birch for its bark, which due to its light weight, flexibility, and the ease with which it could be stripped from trees, was often used for the construction of strong, waterproof but lightweight canoes. The bark is high in betulin and betulinic acid, phytochemicals which have potential as pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals which show promise as industrial lubricants.

Birches also have spiritual importance in several religions, both modern and historical.

See also

External links


Missing image
Birch tree (foreground), showing characteristic white bark
Closeup of  bark
Closeup of Silver Birch bark
Birch timber
Birch timber

da:Birk (Betula) de:Birken (Pflanze) eo:Betulo fr:Bouleau it:Betula lt:Beržas nl:Berk no:Bjrk nn:Bjrk (tre) ja:シラカバ pl:Brzoza fi:Koivut sv:Bjrk (trd)


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