Genus Betula, L. (Birch)

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Leaves - simple; alternate; edge sharply and unequally double-toothed. Outline - egg-shaped. Apex - pointed. Base - rounded, slightly heart-shaped, or, rarely, wedge-shaped. Leaf/Stem - downy. Leaf - two to three inches long; dark green and smooth above; beneath, dull, and with the ribs somewhat hairy, especially in their angles. Bark - of trunk very tough and durable; thick; snow-white on the outside; easily removed from the wood, and then itself very separable into paper-like sheets. The inner sheets are of a reddish tinge. Found - in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, New England, and far northward, farther than any other non-evergreen tree of America, excepting the aspen. General Information - A tree, forty to seventy feet high. The wood is light, hard, and very close-grained, but decays rapidly when exposed - more rapidly than the bark, which often remains as a shell long after the wood within has disappeared. It is very largely used in making spools, pegs, shoe-lasts, in turnery, for wood-pulp, and for fuel. The waterproof bark is much used by Indians and trappers for their canoes. “Give me of your bark, O Birch-Tree! Of your yellow bark, O Birch-Tree! Growing by the rushing river, Tall and stately in the valley! I a light canoe will build me, That shall float upon the river, Like a yellow leaf in autumn, Like a yellow water-lily. ‘Lay aside your cloak, O Birch-Tree! Lay aside your white-skin wrapper, For the summer time is coming, And the sun is warm in the heaven, And you need no white-skin wrapper!’” Hiawatha


Trees: O-P


Newhall, Charles S. The Trees of North-Eastern America (New York: The Knickerbocker Press, 1900) 57


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