Birch – symbol of Russia
Birches have long been known for their beautiful bark. People use birch wood to make furniture, flooring, and plywood.
Birch trees are found in the northern half of the world. They grow in areas with cool to cold weather.
There are about 170 species of birch worldwide. They have narrow trunks and their bark is often white with black lines. Its leaves are usually bright green and they turn golden yellow in the fall. Birch flowers are called catkins. Each catkin bears flowers of only one sex but male and female catkins occur on the same plant. The fruit is a one-seeded nut which is often winged.
In Russia, birch switches are traditionally used to beat one’s skin during sauna baths.
The sap of birches is sweet and can be collected and condensed into syrup.