It is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 20 m tall (exceptionally to 35 m) with a trunk up to 80 cm diameter. The bark is white, commonly brightly so, flaking in fine horizontal strips, and often with small black marks and scars. In individuals younger than five years, the bark appears brown with white lenticels, making the tree much harder to distinguish from other trees. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 5–12 cm long and 4–9 cm broad, with a doubly serrate margin. The leaf buds are conical and small. They are green-colored with brown edges. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3–8 cm long growing from the tips of twigs. The fruit matures in the fall. The mature fruit is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts. They drop between September and spring.
Paper Birch bark Betula papyrifera has a soft, yet moderately heavy, white wood. It makes excellent high yielding fire wood if seasoned properly plus the bark is a great fire starter, as it burns at high temperatures even when wet, making it very useful if stranded in the woods. It is acceptable for furniture parts, floors, and Oriented Strand Board. It does not have a very high economic value. The sap can be used to produce birch syrup. Its name reflects the use of the tree's bark, primarily by Native Americans, for a writing material and also that the waterproof bark was used for the outer covering of shoes. In the construction of sod-roofed houses, the bark is used to create a durable waterproof layer. The chaga mushroom is an adaptogen that grows on white birch trees, extracting the birch constituents and is used as a remedy for cancer. The bark is high in betulin and betulinic acid, phytochemicals which have potential as pharmaceuticals, and other chemicals which show promise as industrial lubricants. Birch bark can be soaked until moist in water, and then formed into a cast for a broken arm.
Novgorod, 1240–1260 The inner bark of birch can be ingested safely. due to its high calorific value per unit weight and unit volume. It burns well, without popping, even when frozen and freshly hewn. The bark is also used in starting fires. The bark will burn very well, even when wet, because of the oils it contains. With care, the bark can be split into very thin sheets that will ignite from even the smallest of sparks. Birches also have spiritual importance in several religions, both modern and historical. Tonewood Baltic Birch is among the most sought after wood in the manufacture of speaker cabinets. Birch has a natural resonance that peaks in the high and low frequencies, which are also the hardest for speakers to reproduce. This resonance compensates for the roll-off of low and high frequencies in the speakers, and evens the tone. Birch is known for having "natural EQ." Drums are often made from Birch. Prior to the 1970s, Birch was one of the most popular drum woods. Because of the need for greater volume and midrange clarity, drums were made almost entirely from maple until recently, when advancements in live sound reinforcement and drum microphones have allowed the use of Birch in high volume situations. Birch drums have a natural boost in the high and low frequencies, which allow the drums to sound fuller. Birch wood is sometimes used as a tonewood for semi-acoustic and acoustic guitar bodies and occasionally used for solid-body guitar bodies. Birch wood is also a common material used in mallets for keyboard percussion. See Also: