Birch trees are notable for their distinctive bark and delicate foliage. Because the bark will peel in layers from the trunk of a tree, it has been used for crafts from canoes to containers by Native Americans long before the colonial period. Each birch species has distinctive bark from other birch varieties. Products made of birch are popular for decorating home interiors for a rustic feel.
When people think of birch trees, they most commonly think of the paper birch. Paper birch has bark that is brown when young and turns a silvery white when it is older. The bark of paper birch peels on older trees. Paper birch leaves have an egg shape with a pointed end and saw-toothed margins. The plant grows well in the northern part of the United States between zones 2 and 5 and may reach up to 70 feet in height. Paper birch bark may be used in paper-making crafts, or the wood may be used for woodworking with the bark left on it for effect.
White Barked Himalayan Birch
The white barked Himalayan birch, also known as the Jacquemonti birch, is a species of birch with the whitest bark of all the birch trees. The bark peels from the trunk as the tree ages. This tree is grown through the Pacific Northwest in the United States. The tree may reach up to 40 feet in height and has a structure that is pyramidal in form. The leaves are wedge shaped with rounded backs and serrated margins. White barked Himalayan birch grow well in zones 5a through 8a.
Silver birch is another species of birch that has distinctive bark used in decorating. This birch does not have peeling bark like other birch varieties. Instead the tree turns black around injuries, splits, scars or cracks in the trunk as it ages. The leaves of silver birch are smaller than with other birch varieties, and the serrated margins are deeper. The tree is pyramidal in shape, but the tips of branches turn downward to give silver birch a softer appearance. Silver birches grow well in zones 3 through 6.