Birch | Betula alba

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Other Names

White birch, Western paper birch, Canoe birch, Silver birch, Paper birch, Abedul, Arbre de Sagesse, Betula, Betula alba, Betula pendula, Betula pubescens, Betula verrucosa, Betulae Folium, Biole, Bois à Balais, Boulard, Bouleau Blanc, Bouleau Odorant, Downy Birch, Sceptre des Maîtres d’École, Silver Birch, White Birch.


Birch is a hardwood tree with broad leaves and is closely related to the beech and oak family. Birch is sometimes called The Watchful Tree because of its eye-like impressions on its bark. The species of birch enjoy temperate climates. Its leaves are alternately single or double serrated. The fruit is a small samara. The bark is marked with long horizontal lenticels, often separated into thin plates. It is resistant to decay due to the oily resin that it contains.


Betuline,  betulinic acid, phytochemicals, salicylates

Collection period


Used Parts

Bark, Leaves, Buds, Sap, Twigs


  • Arthritis,

  • Hair loss,

  • Kidney stones,

  • Rashes,

  • Rheumatism,

  • Skin cancer,

  • Urinary tract conditions


Birch has been used in medicine for as long as anyone can remember. The sap was drunk to relieve colds. It also contains betulinic acid that can be added to tanning lotions and sunscreen. The leaves contain salicylates which is an ingredient to make aspirin.

There have been noted uses of birch being used to build canoes and to create baskets. The wood was also used to carve cups, dishes and hunting equipment like bows and arrows to name a few.


Birch is especially useful for its wood and for colds and as a tonic. It is also a useful sunscreen and can be made into a tea.

Side Effects

Stripping the bark off birch trees may compromise it from fungi that can kill the tree. Likewise, it is not recommended if patient has a history of high blood pressure and is allergic to celery, mugwort or wild carrot.


  • Farrar, John Laird. 1995. Trees in Canada. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited: Markham. Pp 282-285. –

  • Kershaw, Linda. 2000. Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Rockies. Lone Pine: Publishing, Edmonton. P 39. –

  • Wikipeda, Birch: –

  • Medicine Net, Birch:


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