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Betula populifolia - Marshall.

Common Name Grey Birch
Family Betulaceae
USDA hardiness 3-6
Known Hazards The aromatic and aliphatic hydrocarbons in birch tar are irritating to the skin. Do not use in patients with oedema or with poor kidney or heart functions [301]
Habitats Found on the margins of swamps and ponds, it also commonly grows in dry sandy or gravelly barren soils, growing well in poor almost sterile soils[82, 229].
Range Eastern N. America - Quebec to Virginia and west to Indiana
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (1 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Betula populifolia Grey Birch


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Quadell
Betula populifolia Grey Birch
USDA-NRCS PLANTS Database / USDA NRCS. Wetland flora: Field office illustrated guide to plant species. USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service.

 

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Summary

Bloom Color: Brown. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Pyramidal, Upright or erect.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Betula populifolia is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft 4in) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in September. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay and nutritionally poor soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil. The plant is not wind tolerant.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Betula acuminata, Betula cuspidata Schrad. ex Regel

Habitats

Woodland Garden Canopy; Secondary;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark  Sap
Edible Uses:

Inner bark - cooked or dried and ground into a meal. The meal can be used as a thickener in soups etc, or be added to flour when making bread, biscuits etc. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply[177, K]. Sap - sweet. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. The flow is best on warm days that follow frosty nights. The sap is drunk as a sweet beverage or it can be fermented to make birch beer or vinegar[177, 183]. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- "To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr'd together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm'd. When it is sufficiently boil'd, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work...and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum."[269].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiseborrheic  Astringent

The bark is astringent. a decoction has been used to treat bleeding piles[257]. Scrapings of the inner bark have been used to treat swellings in infected cuts[257]. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Betula species for infections of the urinary tract, kidney and bladder stones, rheumatism (see [302] for critics of commission E).

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Other Uses

Charcoal  Pioneer  Wood

A pioneer species, readily invading old fields, burnt-over or cleared land and providing suitable conditions for other woodland trees to become established[226]. It is an excellent crop for very poor soils, where it grows rapidly and affords protection to the seedlings of more valuable and slower-growing trees[82]. Since this species is short-lived and not very shade tolerant, it is eventually out-competed by these other trees[226]. Wood - close-grained, soft, light, weak, not durable[61, 82, 229, 235]. It weighs 36lb per cubic foot[235]. Unimportant commercially, the wood is used locally for making clothes pegs, spools, pulp, charcoal and quite commonly as a fuel[61, 82, 229].

Special Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Firewood, Specimen. Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sunny position[11, 200]. Tolerates most soils doing well on poor ones[1] and on heavy clays. A fast growing tree, though it rarely lives longer than 50 years[200, 229]. It is a pioneer species of abandoned fields, burnt-over lands, cleared woodlands etc[200, 229]. A fairly wind-tolerant plant[200], but it is shallow-rooted and older trees are often uprooted by winds and heavy snow in the wild[229]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[50], especially with B. papyrifera[43]. A good plant to grow near the compost heap, aiding the fermentation process[20]. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: North American native, Naturalizing, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms.

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame[78, 80, 113, 134]. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position[78, 80, 134]. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame[113, 134]. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help[134]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring - do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter[78, 80, 113, 134].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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