The Birch Tree
Downy Birch

Silver Birch (Betula pendula)
Downy Birch (Betula pubescens)
Dwarf Birch


Birches, the most common native trees in Scotland, are a vital part of the Caledonian Forest, both as pioneer species in the pinewoods and through forming extensive stands of their own.

The sap has been tapped for wine and for shampoo.

The birch Symbolises renewal and purification. the birch also has strong fertility connections with the celebrations of Beltane, the second, summer, half of the Celtic year (nowadays celebrated as May Day). Beltane fires in Scotland were ritually made of birch and oak, and a birch tree was often used as a, sometimes living, maypole. As birch is one of the first trees to come into leaf it would be an obvious choice as representation of the emergence of spring.

The uses of birch are many and varied. The wood is tough, heavy and straightgrained, making it suitable for handles and toys and good for turning. It was used to make hardwearing bobbins, spools and reels for the Lancashire cotton industry. Traditionally, babies' cradles were made of birch wood, drawing on the earlier symbolism of new beginnings.

The bark is used for tanning leather, and sometimes, when dried and twisted into a rope, instead of candles.






Birch leaves

Birch bowl


Wood Grain

Mythology and folklore


Last Updated (Sunday, 12 July 2009 09:40)