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Cutleaf Weeping Birch Trees


The Cutleaf Weeping Birch Trees

The Cutleaf Weeping Birch tree (Betula Pendula Darlecarlica) or European White Birch is priced for its graceful 'weeping' branches' with deep-cut serrated leaves and showy markings on its silver-white bark which add a delicate accent to any landscape. In the Fall, the green foliage transforms into a dazzling yellow, and turn the grounds into a sea of gold leaves. In the winter, the striking markings on the white bark stand out and make an artistic statement. It is no wonder that photographers and artists find the birch as one of the most beautiful and inspiring of trees.

But there is more to the birch tree than meets the eye. Birch trees have been around since the Ice Age and the bark was used for construction, crafting, food, medicine and as a firestarter.

All photos were taken by Bakerwoman, credited to jennysh_who in Flickr and were taken in my property.

Loyal sentinels of our home


Photo Credit: jennysh_who

A stand of Cutleaf Weeping Birch trees, planted 32 years ago, grace our frontyard. These trees are not merely ornamental, but serve as a screen for all the windows facing the T intersection where two streets meet. In the daytime, these 35 ft. trees protect the plants beneath them from the heat of the sun as well as give our home some privacy--from oncoming traffic, joggers and people walking their dogs. At night, the birch trees deflect the blinding headlights from oncoming cars into the rooms. These trees make an excellent windbreak on gusty days with serrated leaves leaves doing their little dance. The Weeping Birch trees also serve as lookouts for large birds, like the Western Scrub Jays, mourning doves, and robins, and other visiting birds.

The Weeping Birch tree (Betula Pendula) got its name from the pendulous limbs with strands of toothed dark green leaves and seedpods. The lacy green leaves on arching branches with the silver-white bark add a delicate touch to the landscaping.

Serrated leaves of Cutleaf Weeping Birch tree with catkins (flowers).

Serrated leaves of Cutleaf Weeping Birch tree with catkins (flowers).

Serrated leaves of Cutleaf Weeping Birch tree with catkins (flowers).


Horizontal markings on the bark of a birch tree

How the birch tree breathes

The bronze-grey bark of the young birch tree turns papery white as it ages, with grayish-black streaks and patches. The whiteness in its bark is caused by crystals in the bark cells called betulin which is found in the vacuole (the storage space for sugars, starch and other chemicals). Betulin is known to have anti-cancer properties.

The horizontal lines are called lenticels because these are lens-shaped. Lenticels are small pores on woody plants consisting of spongy loosely-packed cells with air spaces in between as a means of gas exchange between the stem interior and the atmostphere. Each lenticel allows carbon dioxide and oxygen to enter and exit the living cells of the bark to keep the tree alive.

The white bark peels off like paper similar to the Paper Birch. Paper birch was used by the American Indians to make birchbark canoes and it is also known as Canoe birch.

Why do I feel like I am being watched?

Birch tree markings of mountanous terrains - Mother Nature's brushstrokes

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Many Native American legends abound about what caused the burns, slashes, blotches, and markings on the birch tree trunks.

This pointed markings remind me of Japanese ink painting of mountains in the sansui tradition. Sansui in Japanese means paintings of mountain and water.

Could this be Mt. Fuji in Japan rising majestically against the sun etched on the white birch tree bark?

Japanese landscape painting


Photo Credit: jennysh_who

Mother Nature's brush strokes may have created these zen-style Japanese sumi-e wet ink brushstroke mountain paintings.

Nature imitating Nature


Photo Credit:jennysh_who

These dark markings on the white birch tree trunk reminded me of the natural rock formations in the deserts of Utah and Colorado like the Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park.

Find out how the birch tree got its markings

There are many legends that abound about how the birch trees got its slashes, burns, blotches, or markings. Whatever these are called, there is always a story behind the origins of these distinctive patterns on the white birch tree trunks.

Zigzag markings etched by nature


Photo Credit:jennysh_who


How this Birch tree got its 'bump'

The tree of life

When our weeping birch trees were planted 32 years ago, the slim trunks were tied to wooden stake poles to keep them upright. Windy days would cause the poles to tap on the young trunks. A small wound on one of the trunks healed and formed a small callus tissue. I mistook this 'bump' on the birch trunk for a hornet's nest after noticing hornets swarming around this bump. I called an exterminator to come get rid of it. He took a look at it and informed me that it was a not a hornet's nest but a scar or callus on the birch tree trunk which formed after it was injured. As the years went by, the dark growth grew larger and larger. It looked like charcoal and after close examination, I realized that this might be a birch fungus or Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) living off the birch trunk. It is also known as Clinker Polypore, Birch Canker Polypore and considered a medicinal mushroom.

Enchanted homes of faeries and wood sprites? - Black growths at base of birch tree trunks


Looking at the closeup photos of these dark charcoal-like growths at the base of birch tree trunks, one can almost expect to see little faeries or wood sprites coming out and giving you a rousing welcome.

The outer surface of the base of the birch trees look like charred wood caused by tinder fungus or birch conk or chaga. Internally, the tissue is corky and yellow to yellow-brown.

Chaga Facts and Benefits - The Gift from God

How to make chaga tea from birch bark

Chaga Mushroom

What you need to know about Chaga

Chaga Mushroom Tea For Tumors And More

A broken piece of Birch chaga mushroom from my tree

A broken piece of Birch chaga mushroom from my tree

A broken piece of Birch chaga mushroom from my tree

Interesting Chaga Mushroom videos

The many amazing uses of the birch tree - The cure all - earth's most versatile tree

The birch tree with its amazing health benefits and usefulness is also known as the "Tree of Life." It has been called "The Gift From the Gods", and "Diamond of the Forest" , and "The KIng of Plants." Birch trees have been around for as long as people have existed and are pioneer trees species, colonizing open grounds through wind pollination.

  1. Construction

    Birch bark with its natural oils and water-resistant quality made it an excellent material for Native Americans to use for canoe construction and wigwam coverings. It can be cut, bent, sewn together which makes it very popular for baskets, handicrafts and arts. It was used for cooking and drinking vessels, fishing and hunting gear, musical instruments, and bead decorations.

    Birch is a great craftwood for fine furniture and cabinets. It has closed pores, fine and uniform texture which makes it easy to stain and finish. It also drills easily and holds screws and nails well.

    Birch is also the wood of choice for large barrel baseball bats.

    Uses for birch bark

    Birch Bark Canoe Building

    Amazing display of Birch Bark Canoes

    How to make a birch bark basket

  2. Food

    The thick inner bark of the white birch tree is edible and have saved hundreds of lives in times of famine or as emergency food. It can be cut into strips, chopped, grated, dried and ground into flour to add to make stews, mix with meal to make bread or porridge.

    The sap of the birch can be fermented and made into beer or wine. The birch sap is used as a substitute for sugar in Lapland and Sweden.

    Birch as food and as medicinal tea

    How to Tap a Birch Tree for Sap

  3. Medicine

    The inner bark when brewed as a tea is diuretic, helps dissolve kidney stones, alleviates rheumatism, fevers, gout, edema and works as a laxative. Birch is a natural pain reliever containing salicylate, the compound found in aspirin.

    When used externally, it can be used as an antiseptic to heal wounds, burns, sores, bruises and abrasions.

    Chaga is used to treat stomach and lung cancer in Russia.

    Birch tar when rubbed into sore muscles will reduce pain and stiffness.

    Brewed birch leaves when massaged into the scalp after shampooing is touted to accelerate hair growth.

    Remedies and health benefits using Birch

    White Birch used to treat warts, eczema, and tumors

    Chaga in Medicine News - anti-cancer properties

  4. Firestarter

    Birch bark has natural oils which makes it an excellent tinder and will start a fire even when wet.

    Watch how to make a fire with birch

  5. Shredded and chipped Birch recycles as landscape mulch which reduces water evaporatiion up to 50 percent.

    Uses for Birch Mulch

The earth's most versatile tree - Celebrate one of the oldest trees in woodcrafting

Legend has it that the birch broom has a mysterious connection with witches' brooms and has a role in Welsh token of love.

Allen's hummingbird nesting on birch tree limb - Danger zone for small birds


The Weeping Birch trees may seem like a welcoming place to build a nest for hummingbirds. There are so many branches in these majestic and tall trees to share. However, aggressive and territorial birds like the Western Scrub-Jays are notorious for thrashing and stealing baby bird eggs from smaller defenseless birds, like hummingbirds.

This is what happened to this Allen's hummingbird who fashioned a nest using birch tree leaves and catkins as part of the nest building materials. I climbed a ladder and took a shot of the nest when the mom was momentarily away and found one egg in the cup-shaped nest.

One solitary hummingbird's egg

One solitary hummingbird's egg

One solitary hummingbird's egg

Three days later... - Nest has been thrashed


The prime suspect for this unfortunate act of unkindness is the Western Scrub-Jay who reigns supreme in our yard. A tell-tale light-gray feather can be seen as evidence of the maurauding egg stealer. Catkins and birch leaves were ripped apart from the hummingbird's nest.

The Weeping Birch tree is a beautiful tree but an unforgiving place for hummingbirds. Yet a year later,

I found another nest laying on the ground hidden by our frontyard landcaping. It may have been blown down by the strong winds, dislodged from the strong birch branches.

Must read books about Birch Trees - More than just a tree

Everything you want to know about birch trees

  • TreeTech_Birch
    The silver birch (Betula pendula) is also known as the Lady of the Woods with her slender silver-white frame, small delicate leaves and seeds and subtle but enchanting fragrance. The birch is a pioneer species across much of Britain - it is a smallis
  • Birch (Betula sp.) - History and Uses - Sacred Earth Ethnobotany Resources
    Birch (Betula sp.) its hisotry and uses for food, medicine and innumerable practical purposes. An ethnobotanical profile of Birch (Betula sp.)
  • History of Birch
    The Benefits of the Use of Birch in Herbal Preparations.
  • Birch Tree Lore - Types of Birch
    The species includes, in Europe, the Downy birch Betula pubescens, Silver birch Betula pendula, and Common alder Alnus glutinosa.
  • Birch Pollen & Related Food Allergies | LIVESTRONG.COM
    Birch Pollen & Related Food Allergies. Birch pollen is a common cause of allergic rhinitis, or hay fever. Hay fever is a chronic allergic condition that causes coldlike symptoms commonly caused by pollen. Birch pollen is at its high during the sp

Bring the natural beauty of birch into your home or office

White Birch from days of yore

The bark of the birch trees were widely used by the Native Americans to build canoes.

Please let me know you stopped by - Do you agree that the birch tree is the earth's most versatile tree?

Paula Hite from Virginia on June 19, 2014:

Love your lens! I shared it on our G+ page today. Come and check it out!

jlshernandez (author) on June 25, 2013:

@anonymous: Hazel, find out from an arborist if your cutleaf weeping birch tree has birch tree borers. The only time out leaves change colors is in the Fall and then these all drop.

anonymous on June 25, 2013:

When my husband and I moved into our home last September (2012) there was the most beautiful tree I have ever seen. Being about 30 feet tall and having "weeping" branches with the most delicate of leaves on them and a silk smooth white bark that actually sheds, it was my pride and joy. Unfortunately my tree has become sick, the leaves going limp on whole branches, turning brown then yellow and falling off, I have sample of these leaves to take to an expert today but I wanted to find out what species of tree it was. Finally I found it on this very web page: the Cut Leaf Weeping Birch. I am so hoping the expert can help save my tree because it will devastate me if I lost it. - Hazel Jacobs, Edmonton, AB, Canada

julieannbrady on June 07, 2013:

Wow, you surely are the expert on birch trees! I didn't know there was SO much to know about these unique trees. I've seen a few in my life, but had no idea.

RinchenChodron on September 16, 2012:

I love birch trees! I used to have a boyfriend who sculpted birch in Alaska. Very interesting lens.

Gayle Dowell from Kansas on September 16, 2012:

I love the beauty of the birch tree! Great lens!

pawpaw911 on September 03, 2012:

Learned a lot about Birch trees here. The fungus part was interesting. We have never had a birch tree, but I have always liked the looks of them.

Cynthia Sylvestermouse from United States on September 01, 2012:

I have always thought the weeping birch trees are beautiful!

jlshernandez (author) on August 29, 2012:

@LouisaDembul: Thanks Mujjen. I am going to fix the pics caused by the Fllckr issue by linking directly to my harddrive. I just did not get around to fixing all my lenses.

LouisaDembul on August 29, 2012:

Nice information about one of my favorite trees, the birch tree! A lot of your pix are missing, though.

Roberto Eldrum on June 17, 2012:

I wish my house had a big garden to plant a birch. I really liked how birch trees give our family a sense of privacy from the outside world (which we really need as our house is so on the street). As I was going through your photos, it was creepy when I you said "Why am I being watched?". Then I saw the photos and I literally freaked out.

You really have a nice garden and wonderful birch trees. Thanks for all these info, loved it!

bjesparza on June 16, 2012:

I think I used to have trees like these when I was a kid. You could carve into them and they would leave a mark like forever!

CyberTech LM on June 16, 2012:

Know I know more about the Birch Tree... Thanks.

Michey LM on June 16, 2012:

A lot of new info for me here, thanks. Blessings as well.

You have great pictures and facts.

jlshernandez (author) on June 15, 2012:

@UKGhostwriter: Ah yes, birching was beating boys under 10 years of age on their bottoms. Thanks for bringing that up

jlshernandez (author) on June 15, 2012:

@KarenCookieJar: The weeping birch tree that we have are the European species and have very white bark. These are different from the ones I have seen in our area, even the markings are unique. I feel so blessed that there is something special about these trees.

KarenCookieJar on June 15, 2012:

I like the white bark on these, I don't see many where I live.

UKGhostwriter on June 15, 2012:

The birch was the chosen weapon for punishing boys after court in the UK

cleanyoucar on June 14, 2012:

Beautiful trees, beautiful lens! Squid liked!

seedplanter on June 14, 2012:

Birch trees aren't just beautiful (and fun to photograph), they're fascinating! You've proven that with this wonderful lens. Thank you!

Tracie-Fisher on June 14, 2012:

What a lovely, lovely lens. I so love a Birch Tree. Thanks!

Erin Hardison from Memphis, TN on June 13, 2012:

We had a gorgeous weeping birch in the front yard of my childhood home. It had been a survivor of a huge plague of some sort of disease that had killed off most birches in the area. Alas, it finally succumbed to some sort of rot and had to be felled. Very sad. Wish my folks would have known some of the uses of birch you've listed here so we could've salvaged some of the tree for other purposes. Great lens!

What_to_Know on June 13, 2012:

I saw a tree like this one time I never knew what it was till now

johnny6toes on June 13, 2012:

Beautiful pictures. Hopefully when they get this image bug worked out I will be able to come by and see the ones that were missing.

allenwebstarme on June 13, 2012:

Good sharp photography, specially eyes once..

rallo-smith on June 12, 2012:

Birch trees are beautiful. Pictures are great!

Darcie French from Abbotsford, BC on June 12, 2012:

Gorgeous pictures - the ones of the "eyes" are really something!

anonymous on June 12, 2012:

Oh, images are having a buggy problem I see, with refreshes I'm getting some different ones and then others hide out...kind of a peek-a-boo.

anonymous on June 12, 2012:

Loyal cool and these sentinels even have eyes to watch over your yard so beautifully! Sharing you broken heart about the hummingbird tragedy, that looks like a pretty big feather left behind, has to be the predators...hopeful heart! Nice use of the wood theme.

CuriousCraig2 on June 12, 2012:

Love the pic of the Weeping Birch!

CCTVwebmaster on June 12, 2012:

I agree! Have a couple in the garden and love watching them grow.

Clairissa from OREFIELD, PA on June 12, 2012:

Beautiful lens! Birch trees are quite lovely. Congrats on being featured on the popular pages. Thanks for sharing and enlightening me. Blessed by a squid angel.

fivee05 lm on June 12, 2012:

This is very informative.

dellgirl on June 11, 2012:

Congratulations on making Popular Pages - Featured Lenses. This is a great lens, itâs very informative! Thank you for presenting this so well and for sharing it, I like this.

anonymous on June 11, 2012:

Birch trees are my favorite trees! Great lens :)

Karnel from Lower Mainland of BC on June 11, 2012:

I love birch trees on our property there are many, great topic

Anthony Altorenna from Connecticut on June 11, 2012:

Birch trees are beautiful, and the information about these remarkable trees is very interesting. Your photos are amazing, including the sad story of the hummingbird nest. Hopefully, her next nest is more successful!

Musicalcroc LM on June 11, 2012:

Beautiful photos and fascinating facts. Thanks for sharing.

Linda F Correa from Spring Hill Florida on June 11, 2012:

I have always loved birch trees.It's the one thing that I miss living in Florida. This is a beautiful lens. Thanks for sharing

sheezie77 on June 11, 2012:

Great lens!Squidlike

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on June 10, 2012:

I have to look again at our birches when we get home. I know they are silver but one never knows. I had been wrong before.

Nicole Pellegrini from New Jersey on June 10, 2012:

This is such a beautiful lens - your photos are wonderful as well as the stories about these trees. Full of fascinating things I did not know about birch trees as well. Thank you for sharing!

xXOUTDOORSXx on June 10, 2012:

very informative, nice lens!

Heather B on June 10, 2012:

So pretty - your love for these trees really shines through!

Indigo Janson from UK on June 10, 2012:

What beautiful trees. Thanks for sharing your lovely photography, I was particularly intrigued by the 'eyes' in the trunks. :) And to find a hummingbird nesting there makes your weeping birches all the more special!

MillBucks on June 09, 2012:

Great lens, very well laid out and your story in mesmerizing. Thanks for sharing!

anonymous on June 09, 2012:

Wow! This is an awesome lens! :)

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