Betulaceae: a bushy deciduous tree to 15m or more, with peeling bark, at first reddish-brown, later almost black. Found on the banks of streams, and swamps, in deep rich soil that is often inundated for weeks at a time. Separate male and female catkins open before or with the leaves. Blooming around March. The glossy dark green leaves turn yellow in autumn. Native to Eastern North America, from New Hampshire to Florida.
The Inner bark can be cooked or dried and ground into a meal, which can be added as a thickener to soups etc., or can be mixed with flour for making bread, biscuits etc. The trees Sap is also used raw or cooked, and as a sweet flavour, it is harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk, it makes a very pleasant drink. The sap can be fermented into a beer.
A salve was made by boiling the buds until they were thick and pasty, sulphur was added, and this was then applied externally to skin sores and ringworm. The leaves have been chewed, or used as an infusion, in the treatment of dysentery. An infusion of the bark has been used to treat stomach problems.
Birch seeds are relatively easy to germinate and grow. The dormancy within the seed is short and easily broken. This is achieved by a short period of cold stratification in the fridge. You can do this by first soaking the seeds in water for 24 hours. Fully drain away all the water and place the seeds in a zip-lock freezer bag. Place the seeds in the fridge, it is important that during this period that the seeds do not dry out or are waterlogged otherwise the pre-treatment will be ineffective.
After 4 weeks under these conditions the seeds are ready to be sown. In general, many seeds will fail to germinate unless treated in this way, simply sowing untreated seeds in compost at room temperature will not break down the dormancy and germination will be disappointing. You can also choose to mix the seed with moistened vermiculite, fine perlite or sand. These help to stop the seeds from clumping together and allow more between the seeds.
Fill your chosen container with a good quality general potting compost and firm it down well. Suitable containers could be plant pots, seed trays or plug trays or even improvised containers with drainage holes. Firm the compost gently and sow the seeds on the surface, if you have pre-treated your seeds without any vermiculite/perlite the seeds will be difficult to separate from each other. If you add a little dry sand at this point and mix thoroughly you will find that the sand separates the seed and makes it much easier to sow. Cover the seeds with a couple of mm of vermiculite or failing that a fine layer of sieved compost. Follow with a gentle watering and keep them at room temperature. Germination will begin from a few weeks following sowing.
The seedlings are very small and delicate; they need to be kept out of hot sun until the first true leaves emerge. Shading and a moist seedbed are very important for successful germination. Seedling growth can be very rapid and have myself produced Birch seedlings over 1m tall in their first growing season, although heights of 20-50cm are more usual. It is preferable to produce shorter, stocky, well branched seedlings rather than long leggy ones. These can only be grown if the sowing density is relatively low.
Keep the seedlings well-watered and free from competing weeds. Growth will accelerate in the second and subsequent years and the developing young trees should be planted in their permanent position usually by the end of their second year. Large trees of these species do not transplant well and should only be moved during the dormant season.
Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position.
Attracts and butterflies.
APPROX. 100+ SEEDS
THE BORING STUFF:
I DO NOT POST TO BRAZIL ANYMORE DUE TO CUSTOMS ISSUES!
IF YOU FAIL TO GERMINATE YOUR SEEDS PLEASE DON’T LEAVE BAD FEEDBACK, SEEDS ARE ALWAYS FRESH AND TESTED FOR VIABILITY BEFORE LISTING, SO I KNOW THAT THEY DO GERMINATE, IF YOU HAVE ANY PROBLEMS PLEASE JUST ASK!!!
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I POST TWICE WEEKLY MONDAYS AND THURSDAYS
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