Birch Bark Powder - Wildharvested


The birch is a soft-wooded tree native to northerly climates. Birch bark has been used to make baskets and canoes for a long time, but a startup company in Duluth is marketing a new product made from it. A chemical in the papery bark is an ingredient in skin creams, and scientists are studying it for use in treating rashes, and even cancer. Native American healers have been using birch bark for years, and some of them are worried about the future supply. Apparently, what birch bark does for the birch tree, it can also do for human skin -- protect it from the assaults of the physical world. Betulin is already used in some creams and cosmetics, but NaturNorth plans to be the first company in the world to market it on a large scale.

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Birch bark easily peels from the tree, but is slow to decay. Removing the bark from a living tree can threaten the life of the tree if the dark inner bark is damaged, but due to the remarkable preservative properties of birch bark, it can easily be harvested from dead or fallen trees, where it still retains its wonderful properties. Birch bark is strong and water resistant, almost like cardboard in its pliability, and can therefore be bent, cut, and even sewn. Native Americans were known to use the bark tea for fevers, stomachache, lung ailments, and fever.

The young branches are of a rich red brown or orange brown, and the trunks usually white, especially in the second species of B. alba, B. verrucosa. B. pubescens is darker, and has downy instead of warted twigs.

The wood is soft and not very durable, but being cheap, and the tree being able to thrive in any situation and soil, growing all over Europe, is used for many humble purposes, such as bobbins for thread mills, herring-barrel staves, broom handles, and various fancy articles. In country districts the Birch has very many uses, the lighter twigs being employed for thatching and wattles. The twigs are also used in broom making and in the manufacture of cloth. The tree has also been one of the sources from which asphyxiating gases have been manufactured, and its charcoal is much used for gunpowder.

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