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birch

birch, common name for some members of the Betulaceae, a family of deciduous trees or shrubs bearing male and female flowers on separate plants, widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere. They are valued for their hardwood lumber and edible fruits and as ornamental trees. The species of Betulaceae native to the United States represent five genera—Alnus (alder), Betula (the birches), Corylus (hazel), and Carpinus (hornbeam) and Ostrya (hop hornbeam), both also called ironwood. The sixth genus, Ostryopsis, is restricted to Mongolia. The birches, beautiful bushes or trees of temperate and arctic regions, are often found mingled with evergreens in northern coniferous forests. Most American species are trees of the Northeast; a few smaller and scrub species grow in the West. The close-grained hardwood of several of the trees is valued for furniture, flooring, and similar uses (in America, particularly that of the yellow birch, B. lutea); stained birch provides much of the so-called mahogany of lower-priced furniture. White-barked birches are often used as ornamental trees, e.g., the famous paper, or canoe, birch (B. papyrifera) of the N United States and Canada. Its bark, which separates in layers, was used by the Native Americans for canoes and baskets. Various birches have yielded sugar, vinegar, a tea from the leaves, and a birch beer from the sap. The sweet, or black, birch (B. lenta) is now the chief source of oil of wintergreen. The Betulaceae is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Fagales.

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birch

birch Any of c.40 species of trees and shrubs native to cooler areas of the Northern Hemisphere. The double-toothed leaves are oval or triangular with blunt bases and arranged alternately along branches. The smooth, resinous bark peels off in papery sheets. Male catkins droop, whereas smaller female catkins stand upright and develop into cone-like clusters with tiny, one-seeded nuts. Well-known species include the grey, silver, sweet, and yellow birches. Height: up to 40m (130ft). Family Betulaceae; genus Betula.

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birch

birch / bərch/ • n. (also birch tree) a slender, fast-growing tree (genus Betula, family Betulaceae) that has thin bark (often peeling) and bears catkins. Birches grow chiefly in north temperate regions. ∎  (also birchwood) the hard fine-grained pale wood of any of these trees.

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birch

birch OE. bi(e)rċe = MLG. berke, OHG. birka (G. birke) :- Gmc. *berkjōn; rel. to synon. OE. be(o)rc = Du. berk, ON. bjǫrk :- Gmc. *berkō; Cf. Skr. bhūrja-, L. farnus, fraxinus ash-tree.

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birch

birch See BETULA.

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birch

birchbesmirch, birch, church, lurch, perch, search, smirch •Christchurch • pikeperch •wordsearch

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