The birch trees comprise of some of the most elegant trees, noted or their rich bark textures and their attractive yellow leaves in autumn. There are both upright and weeping varieties.
The silver birch is a medium sized, white stemmed tree with soft diamond shaped leaves. This tree will thrive in soil which is reasonably dry.
The native irish species Betula pubescens (Downy Birch) is a tall, deciduous tree rather similar. It’s relatively similar to the Betula Pendual (Silver Birch). However rather than white bark – it’s creamy brown in colour.
The Himalayan birch. One of the most attractive birch available the Jacquemontii, is a medium sized tree with orange to dark brown peeling bark.
The River birch. A beautiful fast growing tree with a pink orange bark. An excellent tree for planting in damp ground. It produces soft green diamond shaped leaves.
The paper birch. A striking large tree with white papery bark and yellow autumn foliage.
- Dig a hole slightly wider than the root of the tree, but not any deeper.
- Take the tree gently out of its pot and place in the hole.
- Make sure the root collar, ie where the tree stem and root meet and is not buried too deeply. For example plant the tree deeper no deeper than it was in its pot.
- Back fill the tree with good top soil and firm in gently.
- Drive a tree stake down next to the tree, being careful not to damage the roots.
- Secure the tree to its supporting stake with a tree strap.
Birch Tree Uses
The peeling birch tree bark can be compressed and used for drawing and painting on. It us even used in making plywood.
The birch is a tree with a light leaf canopy allowing the summer sunshine to filter through. The tree bark is highly attractive, giving the tree a strong presence in any setting including an architectural presence. Furthermore, springtime flowers are catkins that remain on the tree and have the mature seed by autumn.
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Birch Trees Ireland
There are 2 variations of birch native to Ireland. These are the Betula Pendula (Silver Birch – known in Irish as Beith Gheal) & the Betula pubescens (Downy Birch – know in Irish as Beith Chlúmhach). While both trees are have been around for thousands of years, it is the downy birch which is the more common of the 2 in Ireland.
Birch Trees are a big part of the Irish landscape, and they are often found in woodlands, parks, and gardens. The birch is also a popular tree for planting in urban areas, as it is relatively small and has a slender, graceful appearance.
Birch Tree History in Ireland
As the birch is a hardy tree that grows well in a variety of soil types and climates – it was widely used by the ancient Celts for a variety of purposes, including construction, fuel, and medicine.
Birch wood was traditionally used for making a variety of objects, such as baskets, bowls, and spoons, as well as for fuel. The bark of the birch tree was also used for medicinal purposes, and the tree was considered to have spiritual significance in Celtic mythology – giving protective-like powers.
Some Common Questions we get about Birch Trees:
What is special about the birch tree?
A special feature of the birch tree is its bark. The tree has a creamy white bark which peels away naturally revealing a new orange brown bark beneath. This occurs annually as the tree grows.
How fast does a birch tree grow?
Once a birch tree becomes established in the ground, it will grow approximately 0.5 metres each year.
Where do birch trees grow best?
Birch are very adaptable trees and will grow in a variety of locations. Birch can be seen growing wild on high mountainous areas, which would contain peat rich soil. They will equally grow well in a garden containing good top soil. If the soil is heavy and damp they they will also respond and grow equally well.
Are birch trees messy?
Generally no. While it is a deciduous tree (it will lose its leaves in autumn), is far less messy in respect to many other trees (particularly evergreen). They are an ideal solution for areas where neatness is a factor – whether that be the side of streets or private patios.
Can birch trees be planted singularly and together?
Birch look really well planted as a single specimen tree, which can give a focal point in a planting scheme. They look superb also if planted in a group, preferable in groups of three, five or seven, together creating an interesting groove or a semi-woodland effect.
When do you prune birch trees?
The best time to prune birch is in early Spring, just before the trees come into leaf.
Whats the difference between silver birch and downy birch? (the 2 most common birch trees in Ireland)
They are very similar. However, one key difference between the two species is their leaf shape. Silver birch leaves are thin and triangular, while downy birch leaves are broader and more oval-shaped. Silver birch leaves also have a more shiny, metallic appearance, while downy birch leaves are a matte green color.
Furthermore, the texture of the bark is slightly different also. As its name suggests, downy birch has a softer, downy texture to its bark, while silver birch has a more papery and fragile bark. Silver birch bark is also more silver in color, while downy birch bark is more brown or gray.
What does a birch tree symbolize?
Birch trees have a number of symbolic associations, depending on the cultural context in which they are being considered. Some typical symbolic associations include: renewal and rebirth, protection and of course everyone’s favourite season; winter (birch trees are not evergreen and have a white bark)
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