The Silver Birch Tree
edited: Sunday, October 23, 2005
By Reginald Stanley Birch
Rated "G" by the Author.
Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2005
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This is no ordinary tree
Silver Birch tree
A tough thoroughly hardy pioneer tree that not only looks good with its graceful silver stems and yellow autumn leaves, but produces fine pale cream timber. Once established it affords shelter to other less robust trees. It is ideal for amenity or for commercial use. This British native species also benefits wildlife and the environment wherever it is planted. Silver birch is characteristic of sandy heaths but will tolerate a wide range of other situations. It is light demanding, so prodigious natural regeneration from seed soon results in an evenly spaced crop of vigorous stems.
The tree, many centuries ago my ancestors took for their surname, and now there are many branches spread around the world. All, like myself, though be it by name only can claim an association with this wonderful work of nature the Silver Birch Tree.
This graceful tree colonised Britain around the ice age, so understandably it is now one of the most familiar trees in the British Isles.
The Birch has a rapid growth rate for the first 20years, matures at 40 years, and grows to the maximum height of 80+ feet, (25m in Mickey Mouse numbers). The bark is a bit pinkish in young trees, turning into the beautiful whitish silver which the Silver Birch is noted for, then with age the bark darkens
Flowers and leaves in early spring (April-May), fruit appears early summer (June), ripens late summer (September), leaves turn yellow and fall in November.
A useful all year round tree, spring when the sap is rising this can be tapped and collected to make an excellent dry white wine, Queen Victoria’s Prince Albert made it his favourite drink when in residence at Balmoral.
Although I am a peasant due to being born a Birch (thankfully) and not a Windsor (no thank you) it is my favourite wine also, I buy it by the case (12 Bottles) and have a couple of glasses each and every day.
The young leaves are used as diuretic, if by any chance I have any trouble with my water works, the wine will do nicely for me, thank you.
Smalls birds such as siskin and redpoll feed on the seeds. The bark is made into Birch tar for use in tanning to make leather waterproof.
The twigs made brooms, the dreaded ‘witches broom’ and firebeaters, twigs also used for starting fires and larger branches make good firewood. The wood is good for turning, during the great cotton industry days cotton reels and bobbins were turned out of Birch wood, Treated wood make good fence posts,
There are probably many different species of trees that would be adequate in many of these tasks (apart from the wine) but the Silver Birch was more available than most.
It was hoped the Birch tribe would evolve with the characteristics of the Silver Birch tree, stand tall, useful to nature and the community, maybe flexible to changing times, no doubt some will have gone astray, but I like to think most lived up to the name.
To celebrate that heart warming thought, I am off to sit under the Silver Birch Tree in my garden, with (you guessed it) a cool glass of Moniack Castle Sliver Birch dry white wine.
Copyright © Reginald Stanley Birch 2005