The Silver Birch

~ Betula pendula ~

A never ending source of inspiration

In 2011, in addition to painting landscapes and scenery, I started to paint silver birch trees. I adore the many variations, colours and textures in birch trees; no two are alike.

Pretty soon (and before even realising), I had created a full series in Acrylics which became known as “Winter Trees”.

Single panels, diptychs and triptychs feature in the collection and I’m proud to say that more than 25 adorn the walls of private clients around the world.

Birch Tree Facts

Birch is a deciduous tree that belongs to the family Betulaceae.

It is found in almost all countries with a temperate climate.

There are approximately 60 different species of birch.

Birch trees thrive in moist soil and full sunlight. Dry conditions are unfavourable for the tree due to its shallow root system.

The usual lifespan of the birch is 40-50 years but can live for as long as 200 years.

The average height of a birch tree is 12 meters (40 ft tall), but the paper and yellow birch can grow up to 24 meters (80 ft) tall.

Pollen grains released by the birch tree are responsible for 15%-20% cases of hay fever in the northern hemisphere.

11 species of birch are on the IUCN 2011 Green List of Threatened Species.

Birch Tree Facts

Birch trees are recognisable by their bark, which peels off in strips. The bark can be white, grey, yellow, silver or black in colour. Young trees have smooth bark. Deep ridges on the bark are characteristic of the older plants.

Birch trees have simple leaves with toothed edges called ‘margins’. Birch leaves range in colour from grass green to dark green during the growing season, turning yellow in autumn.

Both male and female flowers bloom on the same tree. Male flowers, called catkins, bloom in the late summer or autumn. In the spring, the number of male catkins quadruple in length and droop from the branches. Female flowers bloom in the early spring.

Birch is used as firewood because it burns well, without popping, even when frozen and freshly hewn.

Birch bark has been used as paper for centuries. The oldest dated birch bark manuscripts are Gandhāran Buddhist texts from the 1st century CE.

Birch Tree Facts

Birch sap is a traditional drink in Northern Europe, Russia, and Northern China. The sap is also bottled and sold commercially to make birch syrup – perfect with pancakes and waffles.

Birch bark is used as old folk remedy for stomach ache.

Birch bark can be soaked in water until moist, and then formed into a cast for a broken arm.

In Celtic cultures, the birch symbolises growth, renewal, stability, initiation and adaptability.

Ancient Siberians hailed the birch as sacred, calling it the ladder that spanned the gap between heaven and earth.

As a Chinese symbol, birch is honoured for its attributes of protection, communication and rejuvenation.

The birch is the national tree of Russia and Finland. The Ornäs birch is the national tree of Sweden.

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