There are an abundance of beautiful trees to be found all around Sky Meadow, each with its own unique properties and associated folklore and legends. It’s so interesting to learn what kinds of associations and uses people have had for individual trees throughout history. Today we’re taking a moment to meditate on the lovely birch tree, nicknamed “the Lady of the Wood.”
Birch trees carry rich folkloric and mythological significance in many cultures around the world. Most often she is associated with abundance, adaptability, healing, strength and protection. Don’t be fooled by her delicate and slender appearance — these trees can thrive in conditions most trees would rather not, withstanding tough conditions and able to bend considerably without breaking. She brings a special, almost magical aura to the forests where you find her.
Birch has many practical uses too! It’s strong and durable, excellent for crafting all manner of furniture and useful items. Birch trees also grow quickly relative to other types of trees, making it a fairly renewable wood source. Birch bark has been used as paper for centuries, and it also makes the most incredible tinder, able to burn even when wet. We always keep a bit of birch bark on hand for starting fires. (Just be sure to only take what’s fallen naturally on the ground — never strip bark from a live tree!)
The birch tree is host to several types of medicinal mushrooms, including the well-known chaga, as well as birch polypore. In addition to these, birch has a range of purported medicinal qualities in its own right that are fascinating to research. Did you know that birch is also edible? The inner bark of her twigs makes a lovely tea with a sweet, herbaceous flavor reminiscent of root beer. The cambium can be dried and ground into a flour substitute. You can also tap the sap and boil it into birch syrup, similar to the process used for maple.
There’s so much to say about birch. Be sure to say hello next time you see her! Truly, a beautiful tree that bears so many beautiful gifts.