Monday, April 12, 2010

American Hardwoods: Birch

Birch trees have spiritual importance in religion and folklore: Gaelic, Scottish, Irish, and English folksongs and ballads usually associated with death, fairies, or returning from the dead. Birch trees are considered a pioneer species because they rapidly colonize open ground following a disturbance or fire. The common name birch is derived from an old Germanic root, birka - meaning "to shine".

The bark of all birches is characteristically marked with long, horizontial lenticels that often seperates into thin, papery plates. In ancient Russia the bark pieces were commonly used as note paper, and for decoratives purposes. They even made footwear from the birch bark!

But how does it sound? Well, actually birch is graced with a "natural EQ" that makes it one of the most sought after materials in speaker cabinets. The natural resonace that peaks in the high and low frequencies, are the hardest for a speaker to produce. Birch wood can even out that tone and compensate for the missing frequency.

Native Americans of the Northeastern Forests made wide use of the outer bark of white (or paper) birch for canoe construction and wigwam coverings. Long before the arrival of Europeans and even before the development of ceramic vessels 3000 years ago, bark containers were used to collect, store, cook and consume food or other products. Birch bark was also used to make hunting and fishing gear; musical instruments, decorative fans, and even children's sleds and other toys.

Be sure to visit Edge of the Wildwood again when we feature Cherry...

Know your hardwoods! Simply click on the 'hardwood' tag on the bottom of this post to view all of the features in the Edge of the Wildwood "American Hardwoods" Series.

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