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Tree ID – Part 1 Silver Birch

Growing up I had trees in my garden went for walk in forests, but I did not notice the trees.  The only tree I could identity was an apple and that because we went apple picking in an orchard.  I am now accelerating my learning and will pass trees with children and say the name of the tree.  Even when I am with EYFS I will always say the name of the tree and then describe it.  I’m not one for the yellow flower tree or the pink bud tree and my memory of Latin names is not very good.  They have a common name and that just great and I prefer to use it.   

My favourite tree is the Silver Birch!  Many reasons for this and I will make a list.  As part of my proficiency skills check list for children we list all these and then reinforce by making a poster to help us remember.

It helps us light a fire! 

The bark of the silver birch is great tinder and just needs some sparks to light it.  There is a special way to peel it and that is to pull so it does not rip a line from the tree. 

It helps us wash our hands!

The leaves can be used as soap and it has antibacterial properties.  Wet your hands and rub the leaves.  You will get a good lather up if you have soft water.  Here in Norfolk we only get a small lather.  Wash the leaves off and you are done, and it smells nice as well.

It helps us by providing water (sap)!

Tree tapping for sap is a wonderful thing to be able to and to see and it lasts for about 3 weeks a year.  However, we must remember not to kill the tree.  I used to tap (drill) the tree and let the sap run out and when I had finished, I would plug the hole with a piece of Hazel.  After finding out that this reduces the trees life, I explored different ways.  Wind damage creates snapped twigs or branches and inspecting these trees I saw the sap flowed.  I have made a small cut on a branch and hung a bucket and even snapped a twig and put the twig inside a bottle. 

It helps us to make spoons!

Making spoons or a cup from silver birch is wonderful as its it very soft, a great starter wood to practice on while you hand muscles are building up.   

It helps make a tea!

You can use the twigs for a brew and the catkins when dry and brown offer a nice infusion.  Although coffee brewed on a fire is much better!

It helps us make a mattress!

The tiny twigs that always fall during the winter and early spring are fantastic for bedding in a shelter.  Really springy and I have found them comfortable and the best ones are the ones you can roll around your hand.