The Canoe-Birch.—Its Romantic and Legendary Connections.—Youthful Reminiscences.—Its Native Home and Attainable Dimensions. —Color and Use of its Bark.—European and American Birch.— Their Growth.—Advantages of Dense Sowing.—Its Value as Fuel. —Characteristics.—Seed, Where Obtained.—Soil Suited to its Production.—Black Birch.—Its Usual Height.—Its Wood Described. — Where Found.— Seed, when Ripe.— Yellow Birch.—Where it Thrives.—Height and General Characteristics.—The Red Birch.— Its Proportions. — Its Climate. — Seed, when Ripe. — The White Birch.—Its Insignificance.—Its Only Virtue.
Of this tree there are two principal kinds, the white or European birch and the American canoe-birch. The latter is connected with the legends of our Indians, and is emphatically a tree of romance and poetry. The birchen rod has had much to do with our public schools, and most of our great men have been soundly thrashed with it when boys. Both European and American birches grow to a large size in northern latitudes.
When planted thickly the young birch grows up very straight and graceful. Who of us, when farmer-boys, have not cut a birchen rod for our line, and raised the speckled beauties from their native stream. Birch makes excellent fuel, and is valuable for cabinet-work. In northern Michigan the canoe-birch grows to a height of seventy feet. Its bark is white, and the tree highly ornamental. Seed can always be obtained in Wisconsin. The seed-bed should be light, sandy loam, and the seed should be covered but hghtly, and well sheltered from the sun until the plants are two or three inches high.
This tree is usually from fifty to sixty feet in height; its wood is fine-grained, and very suitable for inside finishing, as it takes a high polish. It is found in the northern section of our country. The seed is ripe about the first of November.
This tree also thrives in the cooler portions of our country. Its height is sixty or seventy feet; trunk straight and circular; its twigs have a very pleasant odor; its wood is very fine-grained and fit for turning. Its seed is ripe about the middle of October. It makes excellent fuel,
Height, seventy feet, and about two feet in diameter. It was named by Michaux. Contrary to the others of its species, it thrives best in warm latitudes. Its seeds ripen in the beginning of June, and as soon as gathered should be sown; shield the young trees from the sun.
This tree is found in the northern portion of our country, and in British America, in the regions of the Saskatchewan River, it is said to reach from eighteen to twenty feet in circumference. The bark is very white, and is used by the Indians, voyageurs, trappers, and traders for manufacturing the birch canoe, of which we hear so much in both the poetry and song of our country. It makes excellent firewood, and thrives in wet soil. The seeds ripen about the first of July.
This tree is quite insignificant, its only virtue being its beauty; its wood is very soft and decays very quickly, and does not even make good fuel.