Any of several white-barked birch trees, such as Betula papyrifera and Betula alba, native to northeastern North America or Betula pendula and Betula pubescens, native to Europe. White birch produces a light colored hardwood that is tough, flexible and naturally waterproof. It used for interior trim, millwork and small items such as spools, bobbins, handles and toys. A red dye was produced by native Americans by boiling the bark from the white birch with ashes of cedar bark.
Synonyms and Related Terms
paper birch (Betula papyrifera); white birch (Betula alba); silver birch (Betula pendula); European white birch (Betula pubescens); abedul (Esp.)
Physical and Chemical Properties
- Heartwood is light reddish brown: Sapwood is nearly white
- Grain is straight to slightly wavy; Texture is fine and even with a low natural luster
- Easy to work with hand and machine tools, though boards with wild grain can cause grain tearout during machining operations.
- Turns, glues, and finishes well.
Resources and Citations
- The wood Database: Silver Birch
- Schoch, W., Heller, I., Schweingruber, F.H., Kienast, F., 2004:Wood anatomy of central European Species: Common Birch, White Birch,Betula alba (B. pendula / B. pubescens)
- R.J. Adrosko, Natural Dyes in the United States, Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC, 1968
- Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996
- Edward Reich, Carlton J. Siegler, Consumer Goods: How to Know and Use Them, American Book Company, New York City, 1937
- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Birch (Accessed Oct. 3, 2005)
- G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971
- Random House, Webster's Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, Grammercy Book, New York, 1997
- The American Heritage Dictionary or Encarta, via Microsoft Bookshelf 98, Microsoft Corp., 1998