Wildlife

Some species of Woodpeckers are also known as sapsuckers, and their favourite trees are Birches.

Some species of Woodpeckers are also known as sapsuckers, and their favourite trees are Birches.

Other birds, for instance hummingbirds, unable to make holes to extract the sap, share with the Woodpecker the drops that exude from the trees.

The holes made in the trunk of the Birch by woodpeckers are also a source of food for various other birds, due to the insects attracted by the sap.

Tree sap is a part of the black bear’s diet. By the end of summer and the beginning of autumn, as it happens with several other bear species, the berries are a main element of its diet.

Tree sap is a part of the black bear’s diet

Many mammals and birds of the northern hemisphere include the bilberry on their diet. Some forest native species threatened of extinction, as is the case of the capercaillie, have difficulties surviving in areas without wild berries.

The bilberries have a symbiosis the birds. The intense dark colour of its fruits is an inveiglement that announces its precious nutrients, attracting the birds to feed with them. The birds, on their turn, by excreting the seeds, constitute a vehicle of propagation for the small bush.

The squirrel nibbles the bark of birch branches to extract and licking the sap, and it also takes advantage of the holes made by woodpeckers.

The squirrel nibbles the bark of birch branches to extract and licking the sap

Man

On the thin bark of birches can grow the chaga mushrooms, recognized for its health properties, due namely to a molecule known as betulin, which the mushroom extracts from the birch’s thin bark.

Birch trees acquired popular names in various cultures, such as "tree of life" (German folklore), "tree of wisdom" (during middle ages in Europe), "tree of love" and "Lady of the woods" (United Kingdom).

Already in the 13th century, Saint Hildegard of Bingen (Benedictine abbess, mystic, prophetess, doctor, writer and composer) was referring to the medicinal uses of birch and bilberry.

On the Celtic mythology, Birch is a symbol of renewal and purification.

 

Still today, in some areas of Ireland, the last Sunday of July is celebrated, being named as the Bilberry Sunday (Fraughan Sunday).

On Siberian tradition, during shamans’ initiation rituals, nine notches were nailed to the trunk of the birch tree, symbolizing the nine steps to heaven.

On the Korean peninsula, where birch sap is also highly appreciated, it is known as "drink of the gods".

In some Scandinavian countries, the bilberries are considered to be a Gift of Nature for the population, and the access of population to forests, despite they may be private, is free for harvesting the bilberries.

In Sweden, during the famine period of the latter half of the 19th century, tree sap was known as the "poor man’s cow”.