About Me

My photo
London, United Kingdom
This blog will contain pictures and information from my everyday encounters with nature in London and the surrounding areas. I will log details of the origin of each photograph thus recording what there is to be seen and where it was seen. I very much welcome anyone else who can upload photos and information about nature in London and the home counties. I work freelance in the film industry so have plenty of days off. I hope to update Monday to Friday and once on the weekend posting at around 19.30, I don't post on bank holidays

Friday, 4 March 2011

Birch (Betula)

Birch has quite an easy Latin name (Betula) if you're into remembering that sort of thing. There are two main species found in Britain; Silver & Downy. They are fantastic trees that our ancestors would have relied heavily on in their day to day lives. The bark (picture below right) is brilliant for fire lighting and remains long after the tree is dead. Where you see it coming away from the tree, this is fine to take and will not harm the tree. Due to the betulin oil in the bark it makes and excellent FREE and ECO FRIENDLY alternative to buying man made firelighters.
      There are so many uses for birch. The leaves crushed in your hands with a little water create a natural soap which is a mild antiseptic. It makes excellent firewood and is terrific for carving.
       It is possible to extract the sap, which is wonderful to drink and can be used to make a wine, by drilling into the tree and entering a snug fitting tube above a receptacle which can collect up to a litre of sap over night. Only do this with a large mature tree and do not do it unless you have the landowners permission first. If you do not fill the hole afterwards the tree will bleed to death so it is important to fill the drill hole with a debarked piece of living birch that fits snugly into the hole. This will stop the tree dying. Ray Mears does a very good demonstration of this or there are plenty of others examples on YouTube. Hugh F-W has a good recipe for the birch sap wine on his website http://www.rivercottage.net/recipes/ben-laws-birch-sap-wine
Enjoy these trees all over London's parks and streets. Pictures above taken today in Brockwell Park.

No comments:

Post a comment