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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

White Birch is Brown

There are few trees that say "north" as clearly as the white birch. It's such a beautiful tree with its snow-white bark. It often grows with dark green hemlocks for lovely contrast, or among maples where it shines against their fiery autumn colors.

But did you know that white birch aren't always white? If you have a white birch tree in your yard, I'm sure you already know this.

white birch trees

In winter it's especially easy to see this. Young white birch trees, and the young branches don't make any pretense of being white.

They are a dark, glossy purple-black. The white bark doesn't begin to show up until the branches are about an inch in diameter.

white birch trees

Birch twigs, or the bark from dead logs (never pull bark off a live tree) is a wonderful firestarter. There is so much natural oil in it that you can light it when it's damp... almost when it's dripping wet.

Anyway, when I saw this row of birch the other day, I thought it was good to illustrate the white birch.

See White Trees- Part II
See The Blindness of Familiarity
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Secondary Roads said...

Yes, I have noticed that change in the bark.

jakill said...

We call them silver birch over here. They look much the same.

Ann said...

well I learned something new about birch trees. not only about their color but about the bark being good for a fire starter

Don't unplug your hub said...

The silver birch grows almost anywhere. At least in the Northern hemisphere. Which is good because it is beautiful.

Lin said...

Thanks for the tip! I never knew that about the bark.

I love white birch trees. They are lovely in landscaping but grow large very quickly.

Sharkbytes said...

Chuck- I figured this one would be no surprise to you!

Jean- I wonder if it's the same species. I'll have to look

Ann- so next time you are backpacking in the rain, you'll be all set!

John- hmmm. you call it that too. I really have to go check the species.

Lin- Very few actually get really big any more. Too many "enemies"

Sharkbytes said...

To my UK friends- ours is Betula papyrifera (specific to North America), yours is Betula pendula

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