Tag Archives: Betula

Betula pendula/Betula alba

Botanical Name :Betula pendula/Betula alba
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula Subgenus: Betula.     Species: B. pendula
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonyms:
Synonyms include Betula pendula var. carelica (Merckl.) Hämet-Ahti, B. pendula var. laciniata (Wahlenb.) Tidestr., B. pendula var. lapponica (Lindq.) Hämet-Ahti, B. aetnensis Raf., B. montana V.N.Vassil, B. talassica Poljakov, B. verrucosa Ehrh., B. verrucosa var. lapponica Lindq., and B. fontqueri Rothm. The rejected name Betula alba L. also applied in part to B. pendula, though also to B. pubescens. Silver Birch has also sometimes been called Weeping Birch or European Weeping Birch

Common Names  : Birch bark & leaf , White Birch, Sweet Birch, Cherry Birch,Silver Birch, European white birch, Common Birch, Warty Birch

Habitat : Betula pendula (silver birch) is a widespread European birch, though in southern Europe it is only found at higher altitudes. Its range extends into southwest Asia in the mountains of northern Turkey and the Caucasus. The closely related Betula platyphylla in northern Asia and Betula szechuanica of central Asia are also treated as varieties of silver birch by some botanists, as B. pendula var. platyphylla and B. pendula va.r. szechuanica respectively

Description:
It is a medium-sized deciduous tree, typically reaching 15–25 metres (49–82 ft) tall (exceptionally up to 39 metres (128 ft)), with a slender trunk usually under 40 centimetres (16 in) diameter, but exceptionally to 1 metre (3.3 ft) diameter, and a crown of arched branches with drooping branchlets. The bark is white, often with black diamond-shaped marks or larger patches, particularly at the base. The shoots are rough with small warts, and hairless, and the leaves 3–7 centimetres (1.2–2.8 in) long, triangular with a broad base and pointed tip, and coarsely double-toothed serrated margins. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins, produced before the leaves in early spring, the small 1-2mm winged seeds ripening in late summer on pendulous, cylindrical catkins 2–4 centimetres (0.79–1.6 in) long and 7 mm broad.

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It is distinguished from the related downy birch (B. pubescens, the other common European birch) in having hairless, warty shoots (hairy and without warts in downy birch), more triangular leaves with double serration on the margins (more ovoid and with single serrations in downy birch), and whiter bark often with scattered black fissures (greyer, less fissured, in downy birch). It is also distinguished cytologically, silver birch being diploid (with two sets of chromosomes), whereas downy birch is tetraploid (four sets of chromosomes). Hybrids between the two are known, but are very rare, and being triploid, are sterile. The two have differences in habitat requirements, with silver birch found mainly on dry, sandy soils, and Downy Birch more common on wet, poorly drained sites such as clay soils and peat bogs. Silver birch also demands slightly more summer warmth than does Downy birch, which is significant in the cooler parts of Europe. Many North American texts treat the two species as conspecific (and cause confusion by combining the downy birch’s alternative vernacular name ‘white birch’, with the scientific name B. pendula of the other species), but they are regarded as distinct species throughout Europe.

It commonly grows with the mycorrhizal fungus Amanita muscaria in a mutualistic relationship. This applies particularly to acidic or nutrient poor soils. Other mycorrhizal associates include Leccinum scabrum and Cantharellus cibarius. Old trees are often killed by the decay fungus Piptoporus betulinus, and the branches often have witch’s brooms caused by the fungus Taphrina betulina

Cultivation:
Successful birch cultivation requires a climate cool enough for at least the occasional winter snowfall. As they are shallow rooted they may require water during dry periods. They grow best in full sun planted in deep, well-drained soil

 Parts Used: Bark, leaves

Constituents:  buds: volatile oil which includes the camphor-like betulin. young leaves: rich in saponins; also a flavonoid derivative, hyperoside resin, tannins, sesquiterpenes, betuloventic acid, vitamin c. bark: betulinol and a glycoside

Medicinal Uses:
* Cancer Prevention * Eczema * Kidney * Pain Relief
Properties: * Analgesic * Anti-inflammatory * AntiCancer * Aromatic * Astringent * Depurative * Febrifuge * Vermifuge
Parts Used: Bark, leaves

Birch is a natural pain reliever containing salicylate, the compound found in aspirin. Salicylate relieves the inflammation and pain associated with  osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, gout, and generalized muscle pain. Salicylate deters the body’s production of certain prostaglandins that are linked to inflammation, pain, and fever among other things. An other reason birch calms arthritis and gout is it’s cleansing diuretic action that eliminates toxins and excess water. Sweet birch can have good results against cellulite.

The antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions of birch bark support it’s traditional uses in skin disorders such as eczema. Traditional healers have long considered the leaves of the white and silver birch effective for skin rashes and hair loss. The essential oil of birch is astringent and is mainly employed for its curative effects in skin affections, especially eczema. 2The American species Betula lenta, (Sweet Birch, Cherry Birch) oil is almost identical with Wintergreen oil, but is not as toxic. Still, the methyl salicylate it contains can have harmful effects if used unwisely, and it is not for general use in aromatherapy and never to be taken internally. Birch bark and leaf in whole herb form have a much lower toxicity.

Birch bark and leaf is also used as an antibacterial diuretic in the treatment of urinary tract infections and cystitis. To increase the effect (and reduce burning) add a pinch of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to the infusion.

Betulin and betulinic acid, both present in birch bark display some anticancer and anti-tumor properties, 4  though neither is touted as a stand alone cure for cancer these constituents add another reason to employ birch in healing remedies and help to validate its history of use from ancient times until today.

Other Uses:
Silver birch is often planted in parks and gardens, grown for its white bark and gracefully drooping shoots, sometimes even in warmer-than-optimum places such as Los Angeles and Sydney. In Scandinavia and other regions of northern Europe, it is grown for forest products such as lumber and pulp, as well as for aesthetic purposes and ecosystem services. It is sometimes used as a pioneer and nurse tree elsewhere. It is naturalised and locally invasive in parts of Canada. Birch brushwood is used for racecourse jumps, and the sap contains around 1% sugars and can be drunk or be brewed into a “wine”. Historically, the bark was used for tanning. Silver birch wood can make excellent timber for carving kitchen utensils such as wooden spoons and spatulas: its very mild, sweet flavour does not contaminate food, and it has an attractive pale colour. Bark can be heated and the resin collected; the resin is an excellent water proof glue and firestarter.

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_pendula
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail181.php

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Betula occidentalis

 

Botanical Name : Betula occidentalis
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betula
Species: B. occidentalis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales

Synonym: Betula fontinalis.

Common Names:Water Birch, Red Birch,Western water birch

Habitat : Betula occidentalis is  native to western North America, in Canada from Yukon east to western Ontario and southwards, and in the United States from eastern Washington east to western North Dakota,[citation needed] and south to eastern California, northern Arizona and northern New Mexico, and also possibly eastern Alaska. It typically occurs along streams in mountainous regions.

Description:
Betula occidentalis is a deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 10 m high at a fast rate, usually with multiple trunks. The bark is dark red-brown to blackish, and smooth but not exfoliating. The twigs are glabrous or thinly hairy, and odorless when scraped. The leaves are alternate, ovate to rhombic, 1–7 cm long and 1-4.5 cm broad, with a serrated margin and two to six pairs of veins, and a short petiole up to 1.5 cm long. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 2–4 cm long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit is 2–3 cm long and 8–15 mm broad, composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.
CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

It is hardy to zone 0. 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 and nutritionally poor soils. 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 sunny position. Tolerates most soils including poor soils and heavy clays. Fairly wind tolerant. A fast-growing but short-lived tree. A very ornamental plant, it hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. It hybridizes in the wild with B. papyrifera. 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

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Flowers; Inner bark; Leaves; Sap.

Young leaves and catkins – raw. The buds and twigs are used as a flavouring in stews. Inner bark – raw or cooked. Best in the spring. Inner bark can be dried, ground into a meal and used as a thickener in soups, or be added to flour when 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. Sap – raw or cooked. The sap can be used as a refreshing drink or beer, it can also be concentrated into a syrup by boiling off much of the water. Harvested in spring, the flow is best on a sunny day following a frost. 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.”

Medicinal Uses:
Abortifacient; Antirheumatic; Astringent; Lithontripic; Salve; Sedative.

The bark is antirheumatic, astringent, lithontripic, salve and sedative. A decoction of the flowers and leaves has been used as an abortifacient

Some Plateau Indian tribes used water birch to treat pimples and sores.

Other Uses
Containers; Hair; Waterproofing.

An infusion of the plant is used as a hair conditioner and dandruff treatment. The thin outer bark is waterproof and has been used as the cladding on canoes and dwellings, and also to make containers. A brown dye is obtained from the inner bark. Wood – close-grained, soft but strong. Trees do not grow large enough to be of use for lumber, but the wood is used locally for fence posts and is also a good fuel. The bark can be used as a kindling.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_occidentalis
http://redbuttecanyon.net/trees/b_occidentalis.html
http://www.discoverlife.org/mp/20q?search=Betula+occidentalis
http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com/Tree%20Enlarged%20Photo%20Pages/betula%20fontinalis.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_occidentalis

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Betula lenta

Botanical Name ; Betula lenta
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus: Betulenta
Species: B. lenta

Synonyms:  Betula carpinifolia.

Common Names :Sweet Birch , Black Birch, Cherry Birch, Mahogany Birch, or Spice Birch.

Habitat :  Betula lenta is  native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southernmost Ontario, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.
It grows in the rich woodlands, preferring north-facing slopes and moist soils. It is also found on rocky soils.

Description:
It is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 20 m tall with a trunk up to 60 cm diameter. In younger trees the bark is characteristic of most Birches with smooth bark and horizontal fissures. It can sometimes be mistakenly identified as a Cherry tree. In some older tree specimens the bark can (unlike most birches)develop vertical cracks into irregular scaly plates revealing rough darkish brown bark patterns. This however, does not occur in all specimens. The twigs, when scraped, have a strong scent of oil of wintergreen. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 5-10 cm long and 4-8 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3-6 cm long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit, maturing in fall, is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts

CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES
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.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation:
An easily grown plant, it succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes wet soils. Shade tolerant. Cherry birch is said to tolerate an annual precipitation of ca 60 to 150cm, an average annual temperature range of 5 to 12°C, and a pH of 4.5 to 7.5. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. The bruised foliage has a strong smell of wintergreen. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process. Trees can be coppiced on a cycle of 5 years or more. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

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.

Edible Uses:
Inner bark – cooked or dried and ground into a powde. Sweet and spicy. The dried inner bark can be used as a thickener in soups etc or can be added to flour when making bread 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. It is harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. The flow is best on sunny days following a heavy frost. A delicious drink, it can also be concentrated into a syrup or sugar. The sap can be fermented to make birch beer or vinegar. 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.”. The dried leaves and bark from the larger roots are a delightful tea substitute. A wholesome, agreeable tea is made from the essential oil contained in the inner bark and twigs. This essential oil is also used as a wintergreen flavouring in foods.

Medicinal Uses: The cambium (the layer directly under the bark) is eaten in the spring, cut into strips like vermicelli.  The bark, in the form of an infusion is used as a general stimulant and to promote sweating.  As a decoction or syrup, it is used as a tonic for dysentery and is said to be useful in genito-urinary irritation.  The flavor of wintergreen and birch bark, in the form of a tea, was popular with Native Americans and European settlers.  The juice of the leaves once made a gargle for mouth sores.  Throughout the centuries, the sap has been used in making medicinal wine and were made into a diuretic tea.  Also an ingredient in skin lotions.

Other Uses:    Landscape Uses:Specimen, Woodland garden.
Betula lenta was used commercially in the past for production of oil of wintergreen before modern industrial synthesis; the tree’s name reflects this scent of the shoots.

The sap flows about a month later than maple sap, and much faster. The trees can be tapped in a similar fashion, but must be gathered about three times more often. Birch sap can be boiled the same as maple sap, but its syrup is stronger (like molasses).

Betula lenta’s leaves serve as food for some lepidopteran caterpillars. See List of Lepidoptera that feed on birches.
Known Hazards: The essential oil obtained from the bark contains 97 – 99% methyl salicylate. This is very toxic when taken orally, and it can also be absorbed through the skin, resulting in human fatalities. As little as 4, 700 mg can be fatal in children. The aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in birch tar are irritating to the skin. Do not use in patients with oedema or with poor kidney or heart functions.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_lenta
http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archivo:Betula_lenta_subsps_lenta_01-10-2005_14.54.08.JPG
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Betula+lenta

 

 

Dwarf Birch (Betula nana )

Botanical Name :Betula nana
Family : Betulaceae
Genus : Betula
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fagales
Suenusbg: Chamaebetula
Species: B. nana
Synonyms: Betula exilis; Betula glandulosa; Betula glandulosa var. hallii; Betula glandulosa var. sibirica; Betula michauxii; Betula nana ssp. exilis; Betula nana var. sibirica; Betula terrae-novae Fern.
Other Names: : Bog birch; Scrub birch; Dwarf birch
Habitat : B. nana is native to arctic and cool temperate regions of northern Europe, including Britain, east to Siberia, northern Asia and northern North America and it will grow in a variety of conditions.It can be found in Greenland. Outside of far northern areas, it is usually found only growing in mountains above 300 m, up to 835 m in Scotland and 2200 m in the Alps. Its eastern range limit is on Svalbard, where it is confined to warm sites.

Description:
It is a decidious shrub growing to 1-1.2 m high. The bark is non-peeling and shiny red-copper colored. The leaves are rounded, 6-20 mm diameter, with a bluntly toothed margin. The fruiting catkins are erect, 5-15 mm long and 4-10 mm broad.
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It is hardy to zone 2 and is frost tender. It is in flower in May, and the seeds ripen in July. 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 and nutritionally poor soils. 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.

There are two subspecies:-

1.Betula nana subsp. nana. Canada (Baffin Island), Greenland, northern Europe (south to the Alps at high altitudes), northwestern Asia. Young twigs hairy, but without resin; leaves longer (to 20 mm), usually as long as broad.

2.Betula nana subsp. exilis
. Northeastern Asia, northern North America (Alaska, Canada east to Nunavut). Young twigs hairless or only with scattered hairs, but coated in resin; leaves shorter (not over 12 mm long), often broader than long.

Cultivation:

Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Grows well in moist places or the heath garden. Shade tolerant. This species is native to areas with very cold winters and often does not do well in milder zones. It can be excited into premature growth in mild winters and this new growth is susceptible to frost damage. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus. 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.

Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Flowers; Leaves.

Edible Uses: Condiment.

Young leaves and catkins – raw. The buds and twigs are used as a flavouring in stews.

Medicinal  Actions & Uses
Antirheumatic; Astringent; Lithontripic; Miscellany; Salve; Sedative; Stomachic.

The bark is antirheumatic, astringent, lithontripic, salve and sedative. Moxa is prepared from the plant and is regarded as an effective remedy in all painful diseases. No more details are given, but it is likely that the moxa is prepared from yellow fungous excretions of the wood, since the same report gives this description when talking about other members of the genus. A compound decoction of the leaves has been used in the treatment of stomach ache and intestinal discomfort.

Other Uses

Dye; Ground cover; Hair; Tinder.

Plants can be used for ground cover, forming a spreading hummock up to 1.2 metres across. An infusion of the plant is used as a hair conditioner and dandruff treatment. A yellow dye is obtained from the leaves. The plant has been used as a tinder, even when wet, and for cooking fires when there is a lack of larger wood. It is likely that the bark was used for tinder.

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://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Betula+nana
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_nana
http://www.hortiplex.com/plants/p1/gw1005314.html
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Betula_nana

Black Birch (Betula lenta)

 

Betula lenta

Image via Wikipedia

Botanical Name: Betula lenta
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Subgenus:Betulenta
Species:B. lenta
Kingdom:Plantae
Order: Fagales


Popular Name(s):Cherry birch, mahogany birch, mountain mahogany, spice birch, and sweet birch. Mountain Mahogany,

Parts Used: Inner bark, twigs & leaves
Flowers: April – May

Habitat: Black Birch is native to eastern North America. Forests or open woods, especially moist, north facing, protected slopes; in deep, rich, well-drained soils. Southern Quebec, southwest Maine to northern Georgia, Alabama; north to eastern Ohio.It is a species of birch native to eastern North America, from southern Maine west to southernmost Ontario and southern Michigan, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.

Description: Black Birch is a deciduous tree growing up to a height of 20 m. Its twigs, when scraped, have a strong scent of oil of wintergreen. The leaves are pointed, alternate, ovate, 5-10 cm in length and 4-8 cm in breadth. The male trees bear flowers about 3 inches long. Female catkins produce flowers about 1 inch long. It fruits are composed of numerous tiny winged seeds which are packed between the catkin bracts.

Medium-size tree with rounded crown and smooth, dark red to almost black bark. Broken twigs have wintergreen fragrance. Buds alternate, both side and end buds present, about 3/10 of an inch long, light brown, broadest near base and tapering to a point. Fruits are erect brown cones 1 to 1-1/2 inches long, containing many tiny, winged seeds. Fruits mature in late summer and early
fall. Cones persist into winter. Leaves oval, toothed, and up to 6 inches long.

The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3-6 cm long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit, maturing in fall, is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.

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Black Birch was used commercially in the past for production of oil of wintergreen before modern industrial synthesis; the tree’s name reflects this scent of the shoots.

The sap flows about a month later than maple sap, and much faster. The trees can be tapped in a similar fashion, but must be gathered about three times more often. Birch sap can be boiled the same as maple sap, but its syrup is stronger (like molasses).

The Sweet Birch‘s leaves serve as food for some lepidopteran caterpillars. See List of Lepidoptera which feed on Birches.

History: The black birch was widely used by American Indians, in bark tea for fevers, stomachaches, lung ailments; twig tea for fever. Essential oil (methyl salicylate) distilled from bark was used for rheumatism, gout, scrofulas, bladder infection, and neuralgia.

Harvest: Twigs, red inner bark, and bark of larger roots year round, but best in late winter and spring. Sap in early spring, 3 to 4 weeks later than Sugar Maple.Harvest during Spring (sap & inner bark); All Year (twigs).

Constituents: Essential oil (methyl salicylate).
Nutrients: Vitamins A, B1, B2, C, and E. Calcium, chlorine, copper, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, sodium, and silicon.

Note: It has been recorded that during the civil war, the edible bark of Black Birch probably saved the lives of hundreds of confederate soldiers.

Edible Uses: Tea, flour.
Medicinal Properties & Uses: Black Birch has anthelmintic, astringent and diuretic properties.It is Anti-inflammatory, Analgesic, Anthelmintic, Astringent, Diuretic, Diaphoretic, Stimulant. A tea made from the inner bark is used as a mouthwash and in diarrhoea, rheumatism, gout and boils. It purifies the blood also.
Used in the treatment of diarrhea, dysentery and cholera. The natural properties are cleansing to the blood and it is used specifically for rheumatism, dropsy, gout, stones in the kidneys and bladder, and to expel worms.
To alleviate pain or sore muscles, the oil has been applied as a counterirritant. The essential oil was formerly produced in Appalachia. But now, methyl salicylate is produced synthetically, using menthol as the precursor.
The oil of Birch is applied to the skin for eczema and cutaneous diseases; the tea is effective when gargled for canker and mouth sores.
The cambium (the layer directly under the bark) is eaten in the spring, cut into strips like vermicelli. The bark, in the form of an infusion is used as a general stimulant and to promote sweating. As a decoction or syrup, it is used as a tonic for dysentery and is said to be useful in genito-urinary irritation. The flavor of wintergreen and birch bark, in the form of a tea, was popular with Native Americans and European settlers. The juice of the leaves once made a gargle for mouth sores. Throughout the centuries, the sap has been used in making medicinal wine and were made into a diuretic tea. Also an ingredient in skin lotions.

Preparation And Dosages:
Bark – Strong decoction, (1 to 2 ounces, up to 4 times a day).
Leaves – Standard infusion as bath or wash as needed.

Tincture: Inner bark – (1:2, in 60% alcohol), 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon.

Black Birch Tea:Steep twigs or fresh or dried inner bark in water, or preferably, birch sap. (Do not boil. Boiling removes volatile wintergreen essence.) Sweeten to taste.

Black Birch is also a wild food.

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

 

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Betula_lenta
http://www.indianspringherbs.com/BlackBirch_M.htm
http://www.herbsguide.net/black-birch.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_Birch
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_RST.htm