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Uses

Edible uses

Notes

Inner bark - raw or cooked. Best in the spring[1]. The inner bark can also be dried and ground into a meal and used as a thickener in soups or be added to flour and used in making bread, biscuits etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply[K].

Sap - raw or cooked. A sweet flavour[2]. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk[1]. The flow is best on warm sunny days following a hard frost. The sap usually runs freely, but the sugar content is lower than in the sugar maples[3]. A pleasant sweet drink, it can also be concentrated into a syrup or sugar by boiling off much of the water[183, K]. The sap can also be fermented to make birch beer or vinegar[4]. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- \"To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr'd together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm'd. When it is sufficiently boil'd, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work...and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum.\"[5]. Very young leaves, shoots and catkins - raw or cooked[1][4].

A tea is made from the young leaves[4] and also from the root bark[6].

Flowers

Inner bark

Leaves

Unknown part

Material uses

The thin outer bark is used to make drinking vessels, canoe skins, roofing tiles, buckets etc[7][8][9][1][6]. This material was very widely used by various native North American Indian tribes, it is waterproof, durable, tough and resinous[8][10][6]. Only the thin outer bark is removed, this does not kill the tree[11]. It is most easily removed in late spring to early summer[11].

The outer bark has also been used as emergency sun-glasses in order to prevent snow-blindness[3]. A strip of bark 4 - 5cm wide is placed over the eyes, the natural openings (lenticels) in the bark serving as apertures for the eyes[3]. A brown to red dye can be made from the inner bark[6]. A pioneer species, it rapidly invades deforested areas (such as after a forest fire or logging) and creates suitable conditions for other woodland trees to follow. Because it cannot grow or reproduce very successfully in the shade it is eventually out-competed by the other woodland trees[3]. The tree has an extensive root system and can be planted to control banks from erosion[3]. The bark is a good tinder[1]. An infusion of the leaves is used as a hair shampoo, it is effective against dandruff[11][1]. The thin outer bark can be used as a paper substitute. It is carefully peeled off the tree and used as it is[1]. A fibre is obtained from the inner bark and another from the heartwood, these are used in making paper[12]. The heartwood fibre is 0.8 - 2.7mm long, that from the bark is probably longer[12]. The branches of the tree can be harvested in spring or summer, the leaves and outer bark are removed, the branches are steamed and the fibres stripped off[12].

Wood - strong, hard, light, very close grained, elastic, not durable. It weighs 37lb per cubic foot and is used for turnery, veneer, pulp etc[8][10][11][13][14][15]. It is also used as a fuel[8][13]. It splits easily and gives off considerable heat even when green, but tends to quickly coat chimneys with a layer of tar[3].

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Paper birch was often employed medicinally by many native North American Indian tribes who used it especially to treat skin problems[6]. It is little used in modern herbalism.

The bark is antirheumatic, astringent, lithontripic, salve and sedative[1]. The dried and powdered bark has been used to treat nappy rash in babies and various other skin rashes[6]. A poultice of the thin outer bark has been used as a bandage on burns[6]. A decoction of the inner bark has been used as a wash on rashes and other skin sores[6]. Taken internally, the decoction has been used to treat dysentery and various diseases of the blood[6]. The bark has been used to make casts for broken limbs. A soft material such as a cloth is placed next to the skin over the broken bone. Birch bark is then tied over the cloth and is gently heated until it shrinks to fit the limb[6].

A decoction of the wood has been used to induce sweating and to ensure an adequate supply of milk in a nursing mother[6]. A decoction of both the wood and the bark has been used to treat female ailments[6].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Canopy or Secondary canopy

Ecological Functions

Pioneer

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame[16][17][18][19]. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position[16][17][19]. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame[18][19]. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help[19]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring - do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter[16][17][18][19].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Betula papyrifera. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position[7][20]. Tolerates most soils including poor soils and heavy clays[20]. Fairly wind tolerant[20]. This species is very unhappy on our windy site in Cornwall[K].

A fast-growing but short-lived species[20]. It is often a pioneer species of areas ravaged by fire[14]. The trunk and branches are easily killed by fire, though the tree usually regenerates from the roots[14]. It hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[21]. This species was an exceedingly important tree for the Indians - they utilized it for a very wide range of applications and it was a central item in their economy[3]. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process[22].

Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus[20].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Betula papyrifera. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Betula papyrifera.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Betula papyrifera
Genus
Betula
Family
Betulaceae
Imported References
Edible uses
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
1
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    20 x 5 meters
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type

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    References

    1. ? 1.001.011.021.031.041.051.061.071.081.091.10 Schofield. J. J. Discovering Wild Plants - Alaska, W. Canada and the Northwest. ()
    2. ? 2.02.1 Kavasch. B. Native Harvests. Vintage Books ISBN 0-394-72811-4 (1979-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.13.23.33.43.53.63.73.8 Lauriault. J. Identification Guide to the Trees of Canada Fitzhenry and Whiteside, Ontario. ISBN 0889025649 (1989-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.14.24.3 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Duke. J. Handbook of Energy Crops - (1983-00-00)
    6. ? 6.006.016.026.036.046.056.066.076.086.096.106.116.126.136.14 Moerman. D. Native American Ethnobotany Timber Press. Oregon. ISBN 0-88192-453-9 (1998-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.17.27.3 Bean. W. Trees and Shrubs Hardy in Great Britain. Vol 1 - 4 and Supplement. Murray (1981-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.18.28.38.4 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.110.2 Sargent. C. S. Manual of the Trees of N. America. Dover Publications Inc. New York. ISBN 0-486-20278-X (1965-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.111.211.311.4 Turner. N. J. Plants in British Columbian Indian Technology. British Columbia Provincial Museum ISBN 0-7718-8117-7 (1979-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.112.212.3 Bell. L. A. Plant Fibres for Papermaking. Liliaceae Press (1988-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.113.2 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.114.214.3 Elias. T. The Complete Trees of N. America. Field Guide and Natural History. Van Nostrand Reinhold Co. ISBN 0442238622 (1980-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Britton. N. L. Brown. A. An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States and Canada Dover Publications. New York. ISBN 0-486-22642-5 (1970-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.116.2 Sheat. W. G. Propagation of Trees, Shrubs and Conifers. MacMillan and Co (1948-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.117.2 McMillan-Browse. P. Hardy Woody Plants from Seed. Grower Books ISBN 0-901361-21-6 (1985-00-00)
    18. ? 18.018.118.2 Dirr. M. A. and Heuser. M. W. The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation. Athens Ga. Varsity Press ISBN 0942375009 (1987-00-00)
    19. ? 19.019.119.219.319.4 Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2. Thompson and Morgan. (1988-00-00)
    20. ? 20.020.120.220.320.420.5 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    21. ? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)
    22. ? Riotte. L. Companion Planting for Successful Gardening. Garden Way, Vermont, USA. ISBN 0-88266-064-0 (1978-00-00)
    23. ? Fernald. M. L. Gray's Manual of Botany. American Book Co. (1950-00-00)

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    Facts about "Betula papyrifera"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
    Article requires cleanupYes +
    Belongs to familyBetulaceae +
    Belongs to genusBetula +
    Functions asPioneer +
    Has binomial nameBetula papyrifera +
    Has common namePaper Birch +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has edible partFlowers +, Inner bark +, Leaves +, Sap + and Unknown part +
    Has edible useUnknown use +, Sweetener + and Tea +
    Has fertility typeWind +
    Has flowers of typeMonoecious +
    Has growth rateVigorous +
    Has hardiness zone1 +
    Has imageBrzoza paierowa Betula papyrifera.jpg +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has material partUnknown part +
    Has material useDye +, Fuel +, Hair care +, Paper +, Waterproofing + and Wood +
    Has mature height20 +
    Has mature width5 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAntirheumatic +, Astringent +, Febrifuge +, Miscellany +, Sedative + and Skin +
    Has primary imageBrzoza paierowa Betula papyrifera.jpg +
    Has search namebetula papyrifera + and paper birch +
    Has shade toleranceNo shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral + and Alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy +, Loamy +, Clay + and Heavy clay +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameBetula papyrifera +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Inhabits ecosystem nicheCanopy + and Secondary canopy +
    Is deciduous or evergreenDeciduous +
    Is herbaceous or woodyWoody +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedYes +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
    Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera +, Betula papyrifera + and Betula papyrifera +