Birch trees are a pioneer species. It is often the first to reappear after forest fires in terms of re-generation and was among the first trees in Northern climes to re-establish as the glaciers retreated. They are a short-lived tree (60 to 70 years) with shallow roots (90% in the first 3 inches of the soil). As a result, these roots are sensitive to temperature increases. In addition because few roots reach deeper than 24 inches (60 cm) below the soil surface, this leads to vulnerability during high wind events. It is a medium sized tree, up to 25 metres tall
Birchwood is used for flooring, furniture, cabinetry, interior finishing, vehicle parts, plywood, pulp, and turnery. The thin, water-impervious bark provided roofing, canoes, and shoes for Indigenous peoples on Turtle Island and early settlers. Birch oil and birch beer made from sap are obtained from the trees. Woodsmen rely on the ability of yellow and paper birch bark to burn even when wet.
Hardy, quick growing, and relatively immune to disease and insect attack, they are valuable in reforestation, erosion control, and as protective cover, or nurse trees, for development of more permanent plants.
In the Celtic tree calendar, the Birch is the first month of the Celtic Year, November 1 - 28.
In Scottish folklore the Gille Dubh (Dark Lad) was a solitary male faerie. He was kindly and reticent yet sometimes wild in character but had a gentle devotion to children. Dark haired and clothed in leaves and moss, he lived in a birch wood within the Gairloch and Loch a Druing area of the north-west highlands of Scotland.
Related Wildwood Cards:
Card 5: The Ancestor
Card 6: The Forest Lovers
Card 14: Balance