Birch Leaf

Birch Leaf

betula pendula

The human uses of birch in addition to medicine include nourishment in the form of nutrient-rich sap for sweetener, able to be tapped in spring like maple syrup.

  • Plant type: Perennial
  • Other names: White Birch, Silver Birch, Paper Birth
  • Medicinal: Yes
  • Culinary: No
  • Ceremonial: No
  • Parts Used: Bark, Leaves, Sap
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About Birch Leaf

Betula pendula is claimed as the symbol of purity in a garden that owes its rights to family Betulaceae. This salutary botanical is also appraised as silver birch or white birch due to its distinctive silver bark. It is planted by gardeners to renew or purify the garden bed for the upcoming yield.

Silver birch is a hardy deciduous tree that can attain a height of approximately 40 to 90 feet, drawing a light sophisticated canopy with its drooping branches. The beautiful leaves with double serrated margin and silver bark are the main identifiers of the plant. Its canopy serves as a shelter to many shrubs that require light shade to grow.

Birch leaves are miraculous when it comes to hosting the whole army of diseases. They are medicinally useful for treating the infections that involve kidney, bladder, ureter, urethra, and other sensitive parts of the urinary tract. Birch leaves are highly potent at inducing diuresis to boost the fashion of urinary output.

Birch leaves are said to be rich in vitamin C and are considered as one of the best immunizers in the world. Other than vitamin C, birch leaves are packed with flavonoids like hyperoside, quercitin, myricetin galactoside, kaempferol, and essential oils which prove to be the key reason for elimination of infections.

Growing

Silver birch (Betula pendula) is an easy growing plant that does not care much about the soil type. The plant is both indoor and outdoor-friendly but the ones that are started with the container and transferred to the garden beds tend to live longer, i.e. for about 10 to 12 years.

The seeds require the sun of April to germinate robustly. It is made sure that the seeds are not covered with a thick layer of soil and they should be watered profusely to prevent dryness, which can prove to be disastrous for germination.

The seedlings of silver birch are further delivered with a satisfying supply of liquid fertilizer until August. The container is allowed to sit in a sunny spot and the plant is transferred to its new home whenever it is tall enough to stand in the garden bed.

Silver birch seeds take 4 to 6 weeks to germinate into a seedling that contains a stem leaves. The plant then further grows and blooms in April and keeps up with the task till June.

The silver birch plant has separate male and female catkins that can be distinguished quite easily with the naked eyes. The male catkins are long, yellowish-brown in color and droop down in the groups of two and four, like a lamb’s tail. On the other hand, female catkins are small, erect, and showcase a bright green color.

The successful pollination promises multiple fruit formation with obscured seeds that account for the continuation of the destined lifecycle.

Harvesting

The leaves and the million-dollar bark is harvested eagerly all around the world due to their various pharmacological uses.

The leaves can be pruned at any time of the year but the bark is harvested with great care. The bark should be harvested when the plant is in full leaves i.e. in spring, a time when the sap is mobilized. This lessens the chances of bleeding and killing the plant in the process. Also, only outer bark should be anticipated for the harvest as damaging inner bark can cost you the life of a silver birch tree.

The seeds of silver birch are harvested when its fruit turns brown.

The leaves can be collected by simply picked by hands, whereas for the bark, a sharp knife is required to make a vertical cut to the cambium. It is made sure to not cut the cambium all the way around the tree to keep the tree alive and let it prepare for the next harvest.

Mostly silver birch barks are preserved for decorative and medicinal purposes.

Silver birch leaves are dried in in the shade until they are crisp to touch.

Usage

Birch leaves (Betula pendula) are used in various preparatory forms to lighten up the lives of millions.

Tea- Dried silver birch leaves are soaked in hot water for 10 to 15 minutes. The plant material is strained out and the birch tea is enjoyed.

  • Tincture- Dried or fresh birch leaves are soaked in grain alcohol for up to 6 weeks. The plant material is then strained to formulate birch tincture.
  • Decoction- Dried birch leaves are simmered in water for a considerable amount of time and the liquid is strained to be named as birch decoction.
  • Salve- Birch leaf oil is employed in formulating a salve. 
  • Syrup- Evaporated birch sap is used to make birch syrup. 
  • Infused oil- Fresh birch leaves are topped with any carrier oil (olive oil, almond oil, etc.) to make birch leaf oil.