Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Bog birch (B. glandulosa) of North America, also called tundra dwarf birch or resin birch, and dwarf birch, or dwarf Arctic birch (B. nana), native to most far northern areas of the world, are small alpine and tundra shrubs commonly known as ground birch. This page was last edited on 5 November 2020, at 10:06. The strong and water-resistant cardboard-like bark can be easily cut, bent, and sewn, which has made it a valuable building, crafting, and writing material, since pre-historic times. The peeling white bark blends well with winter's snowy surroundings. The best time for collection is spring or early summer, as the bark is of better quality and most easily removed. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. Removing birch bark from live trees is harmful to tree health and should be avoided. On older trunks the thick, deeply furrowed bark breaks into irregular plates. They are usually bright green, turning yellow in autumn. Historical Atlas of Canada: Canada's History Illustrated with Original Maps. For sharp bending, the fold should be scored (scratched) first with a blunt stylus. Containers such as wrappings, bags, baskets, boxes, or quivers were made by most societies well before pottery was invented[citation needed]. The thin, water-impervious bark provided roofing, canoes, and shoes for North American Indians and early settlers. Birch Bark and Its many Uses. Birch trees can be identified by their distinctive bark. For several years after a tree has been harvested the tree's bark will be black. Here are six species or varieties. The best time for collection is spring or early summer, as the bark is of better quality and most easily removed. Removal of the inner (dark) layer, the phloem, kills the tree by preventing the flow of sap to the roots. It is important to keep in mind that removing the inner layer of bark from any live tree can do irreversible harm to that tree. Learn how and when to remove this template message, "Experimental methods for the Palaeolithic dry distillation of birch bark: implications for the origin and development of Neandertal adhesive technology", "Birch tar extraction does not prove Neanderthal behavioral complexity", Bureau of Catholic Indian Missions Digital Image Collection, Wiigwaasi-Jiimaan: These Canoes Carry Culture, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Birch_bark&oldid=987168285, Articles lacking in-text citations from October 2012, Articles with unsourced statements from July 2008, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, In Scandinavia and Finland, it was used as the substratum of. Woodsmen rely on the ability of yellow and paper birch bark to burn even when wet. The name bog birch is applied to a species of buckthorn, as well as to B. glandulosa. Birch bark or birchbark is the bark of several Eurasian and North American birch trees of the genus Betula. Short, slender branches rise to a narrow pyramidal crown on a young tree; they become horizontal, often pendulous, on an older tree. Pale- to red-brown birchwood is used for flooring, furniture, cabinetry, interior finishing, vehicle parts, plywood, pulp, and turnery. Instead, it can be removed fairly easily from the trunk or branches of dead wood, by cutting a slit lengthwise through the bark and pulling or prying it away from the wood. It is sometimes called red birch, black birch, or mountain birch. This article was most recently revised and updated by, USDA Forest Service - How to Grow and Maintain a Healthy Birch Tree, The Spruce - Meet 12 Species and Cultivars of Birch Trees, birch - Children's Encyclopedia (Ages 8-11), birch - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). Removing the inner layer prevents the flow of sap, which will eventually kill the tree if enough bark is removed. Birch bark can be cut with a sharp knife, and worked like cardboard. To prevent it from rolling up during storage, the bark should be spread open and kept pressed flat. Other uses include: Birch bark also makes an outstanding tinder, as the inner layers will stay dry even through heavy rainstorms. A birch has smooth, resinous, varicoloured or white bark, marked by horizontal pores (lenticels), which usually peels horizontally in thin sheets, especially on young trees.On older trunks the thick, deeply furrowed bark breaks into irregular plates. The Japanese monarch birch (B. maximowicziana) is a valuable timber tree of Japan, especially in the plywood industry. Birch, any of about 40 species of short-lived ornamental and timber trees and shrubs constituting the genus Betula (family Betulaceae), distributed throughout cool regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Water birch (B. occidentalis; B. fontinalis of some authorities), a shrubby tree native to moist sites along the western coast of North America, has nonpeeling, dark-red bark; it grows in clusters, with all stems rising from a common root system. Some of those products (such as betulin) also have fungicidal properties that help preserve bark artifacts, as well as food preserved in bark containers. Silver Birch is widespread in Britain, Down Birch is more common in the Scottish Highlands and the others are introduced species or varieties planted in parks, gardens or urban settings for their striking bark. Black Friday Sale! Birch bark was a valuable construction material in any part of the world where birch trees were available. Corrections? Explore {{searchView.params.phrase}} by color family {{familyColorButtonText(colorFamily.name)}} However, there is a danger that the tree will be injured in the harvesting process and many people do not like the look of a tree that has been harvested. Even today, birch bark remains a popular type of wood for various handicrafts and arts. Fresh bark can be worked as is; bark that has dried up (before or after collection) should be softened by steaming, by soaking in warm water, or over a fire. Birch bark also contains substances of medicinal and chemical interest. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). Browse 1,477 birch tree bark stock photos and images available, or search for birch trees or silver birch tree to find more great stock photos and pictures. Most require moist, sandy, and loamy soil; they are usually propagated by seeding or grafting. 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