Stately Silver Birch (Betula Pendula)

Carrying on with my love of trees I now turn my attention to the silver birch. Also known as the European birch this majestic tree is very beautiful with its drooping twigs. The European name does not surprise me because the tree is native throughout the UK and Europe.

Silver birch is deciduous which means that it sheds its leaves annually.  

Bark, leaves and the sap of a silver birch tree have uses but I just use the leaves. You can find silver birch in woodland, heaths and moors. In fact my leaves came from the edge of a woodland. Silver birch trees like dry, sandy and peaty soils.

 

Identification

Firstly identify silver birch by looking at its very characteristic bark. The white and scaly bark is white all year round. Its also very papery and when it becomes old it will develop dark fissures.

The “silver” part of the name first came from Alfred Lord Tennyson in one of his poems.

The leaves are a triangular-shape with double-toothed edges. This means that the leaves have small, marginal teeth or serrations between the main veins but then also have smaller teeth between these.

I use a pocket book for tree identification and its fantastic. Its simply called “trees” by Alastair Fitter and David More and I can easily carry it around while foraging. I’m finding it so exciting to be able to identify the trees around me! Whatever the time of year it is does not matter because it describes bark, leaves, catkins, flowers, cones, seeds and flowers.

If you would like to take a look for yourself here is a link;

 

Making a Silver Birch Leaf Tea

I dry a few leaves and store them away for making tea. Picking a few leaves from a tree I bring them home and wash them. Next I spread them onto kitchen roll and place them somewhere safe to dry for a week or two. I also cover them with further kitchen roll because this stops them from collecting dust while drying.

To make the tea I do the following;

  1. Boil a cup of water.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of dried leaves.
  3. Cover the cup with a plate and leave to infuse for 15 minutes.
  4. Sieve, throw away the leaves and drink.

Drink one wineglass full of the tea 3 times per day as required.

Uses of the Tea

Silver birch tea may support the body with regards to;

  • Gout
  • Kidney and bladder complaints and this includes kidney stones
  • Rheumatism
  • Sore mouth
  • Young leaves may increase the flow of urine

Cautions

Do not give silver birch to children or anyone allergic to aspirin because it contains aspirin.

Magic and Mythology

Here are some interesting findings;

  • Some magical herbalists use birch wands for purification and blessings.
  • A witch’s broom is traditionally made with a hazel wood handle and a head of birch twigs.
  • In Celtic mythology the silver birch is a sacred tree symbolising new beginnings and protection. In fact tradition shows lighting Beltane fires using birch twigs and making May poles from silver birch. Beltane is the Gaelic May Day Festival marking the start of summer and new beginnings. Celebrations are traditionally on 1st May which is halfway between spring equinox and summer solstice.
  • Another traditional use of birch twigs is where people use bundles of the twigs to drive out spirits from the old year.
  • Being a symbol of fertility is probably why birch is dedicated to Thor the god of thunder and fertility. Due to this symbol Scottish Highland folklore tells of herding a barren cow with a birch stick to make it fertile.
  • There is a  tradition of hanging silver birch bows on Midsummer’s Eve to guard and bring good luck.
  • Some gardener’s still use birch brooms to purify their gardens by using them to sweep away unwanted influences and negative energy.

 

Finally

Be aware that you never know if you’re intolerant to something new until you try it for the first time. Therefore only try a tiny amount first and wait a day or two to check that there is no adverse reaction. 

If you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking any medications, always check with your doctor to ensure that using any of these suggestions don’t contradict them.

 

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Furthermore if reading my posts are making you feel like you want to start your own blog then give it a try. I describe myself as a technophobe but here I am having a go and enjoying it too. There is still a long way to go with my blog but there is a lot of help out there on the internet.

I use SiteGround because they have a good start up deal and they are there to help when you need them. Furthermore I like their system and if a technophobe like me can navigate it then I feel anyone can.

Take a look for yourself;

 

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