Paper Birch – Betula papyrifera

Paper Birch
Paper Birch

…The Birch was very noble,
Armed herself but late,
A sign not of cowardice,
But of high estate…

By Gwion,

in an early Celtic work of great antiquity

 

 

This really cool tree is one of the first trees to establish in freshly cleared land from Alaska to Newfoundland. It will often be found growing with or near Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea),Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis), White Spruce, (Picea glauca), Black Spruce, (Picea mariana), Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana), Bigtooth Aspen (Populus grandidentata), Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides). But be careful, it will start to die back with competition that shades it. Almost all birch trees have peeling bark.

The Paper Birch was very popular as a building material for wigwams, made waterproof bowls and lightweight canoes for the Native Americans. The strong and flexible wood was made into spears, bows, arrows, snowshoes, sleds, and other items. They also would soak the bark until it was pliable enough to form, and then used it for casting broken bones for healing.

The sap can be used to make birch sap, and the inner bark can be safely consumed. Even moose find it a staple winter food!

In magic the birch twigs were traditionally made into the witch’s broom. The Druids referred to the Birch as the ‘Lady of the Woods.’ She (the tree) represented renewal, birth, and inception.

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