Indian Paper Birch (Betula utilis)

Botanical Name : Betula utilis
Family         : Betulaceae
Genus
: Betula
Synonyms:        Betula bhojpattra – Wall.

Habitat : E. Asia – Himalayas to S.W. China.  Forests at the upper height limit of tree growth, rarely found below 3000 metres[146]. Moist hillsides at elevations of 2000 – 4000 metres in Nepal.Woodland Garden; Canopy; Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Description:
A decidious Tree growing to 20m at a fast rate.A variable species with normally dark coppery brown peeling bark revealing an attractive grey pink bloom. Makes a medium sized tree of comparatively fast growth.

Fast-growing Birch trees are attractive year-round. Their light green foliage turns yellow in fall. Losing their leaves for winter shows off their colorful, peeling bark, thin graceful branches, and hanging cone-like fruit. Young trees have dark-colored bark until their trunks reach 1 inch around. Plant against a darker background or green lawn to highlight pale trunks. Prone to aphids that drip a sticky substance called honeydew, so plant away from patios or car parks. Most thrive in moist sandy or rocky subsoils. Once established, tolerates some heat and dry spells. Prefers winter chill. Water deeply and often, around shallow roots. Prune in winter only after leaves have formed, to prevent sap bleeding. Transplant when dormant. Birch borers and leaf miners are major pests.

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It is hardy to zone 8. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and are pollinated by Wind.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, requires well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It requires moist soil. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.

Cultivation:
Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes wet soils. Shade tolerant. Plants are showing good wind-resistance on our Cornish trial ground. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus.

Propagation:
Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help. 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.

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Medicinal Actions &  Uses:

Antiseptic; Carminative.

An infusion of the bark is antiseptic and carminative. It has been used in the treatment of hysteria and jaundice. It is applied as drops to the ears to rlieve earache. A paste made from the bark is used as a poultice on cuts, wounds and burns.

Other Uses
Incense; Paper; Waterproofing; Wood.

A paper is made from the inner bark. The outer bark can be carefully peeled off the tree (this does not harm the tree) and used as a paper. The outer bark can also be used as a waterproofing and for roofing houses. The bark is sometimes used as an incense. Wood – tough, even grained, moderately hard, elastic. Used for construction.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Betula_utilis_01-10-2005_12.44.48.JPG
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Betula_utilis_01-10-2005_12.45.20.JPG
http://www.sunnygardens.com/garden_plants/betula/betula_0392.php
http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Betula-utilis-leaves.JPG

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