Silver Birch

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Beith Geal
Latin name: Betula pendula

Have you ever seen a silver birch? Can you guess where it gets its name? The white-grey colour of its bark makes it shimmer in the light and appear a silvery colour. The Celts used the birch tree as a symbol of purity and renewal.

Birch Tree
Courtesy of Coillte Teoranta

It is an elegant deciduous tree, with arching branches that droop gracefully towards the ground. It usually grows to about 15-20 metres high. The catkins, or flowers, of the silver birch appear in the spring before the leaves, and the small winged seeds mature late in the summer. These seeds are a favourite food for birds, especially for Coaltits and Goldfinches.

Its leaves are a vibrant green, which change towards the end of the summer to a soft yellow colour. When contrasted with the rustic red colour of the beech tree leaves in the autumn, they give life and colour to the countryside.

Birch wood is used to make brooms and fencing. The bark of the tree can also be used for dying finshing nets and tan leather.

Did you know that the silver birch is the national tree of Finland?