The downy birch tree is also called the European white birch tree, This species of tree has a grey-white bark, with oval leaves and flowers that produce during the spring season. It thrives in wet soil, wet clay, and peat bogs. Sometimes this species is often confused with the dwarf birch tree.
Where are Downy Birch Trees Found
The downy birch tree is native to Northern Europe and Northern Asia. Places they can be found growing in the wild are Siberia, Altai Mountains, Lake Baikal region, the Caucasus, Turkey, in the Arctic, Iceland, Greenland, Spain, and the British Isles. Cultivars have been grown in other areas.
What is Distinguishable About the Downy Birch Tree
What distinguishes the downy birch from other species of birch is the bark and the shoots. The bark is dull and grey-white and it has leaf margins which are finely serrated. This species is tetraploid. In Iceland, the downy birch tree can hybridize with the dwarf birch and the results are triploid.
The Uses of the Downy Birch
The downy birch has a wide variety of uses that include the wood being used for timber, plywood, furniture making, shelf making, wood toy making, coffin making and more. The inner bark can be used in making bread because it is edible. The sap of this tree is used in making wine, ale and other refreshing drinks. Certain parts of this tree has been used in herbal medicine for centuries. The wood is also used for making canoes and roofing tiles. The bark can be used to make dye. The leaves can be boiled to make a herbal tea.
A few common problems are associated with the downy birch and they include a fungus growing on the tree that causes the disease called birch dieback disease, larva feeding on the foliage which causes damage to the leaves and decreases growth. There have been about 70 species of fungi known to grow on this tree.