Dendrology Part 1- Birch, Maple, Spruce
Welcome to our new series “Dendrology”! In the first part, we will have a closer look at birch, maple and spruce, because yes, trees are edible and even very healthy sometimes. With leaves, needles, flowers, blossoms, fruits, cones, water and bark, trees have a lot to offer. During World War, very finely ground wood was even used to stretch flour and served as emergency food.
The birch is easily recognized on its trunk of course. In young birch trees it usually still is very white and tender. The older it gets, the more the bark tears up and the famous trunk pattern emerges. The birch is our absolute favourite among the trees because it has so much to offer.
Which parts to use?
Birch sap: The birch sap/ birch water might be familiar to most of you. To get to it, drill a small hole at a maximum of 4cm in the tree and put a blade of grass or a tap into it. Now you can collect it using a bucket. The sap is collected in spring, when the roots pump the liquid into the buds.
Important!!! Please harvest the sap only of larger, older trees. Also only at a maximum of 2 litres per tree and only every 3 years. When you’re done, you must close the hole again, because the tree might bleed out otherwise. There is a natural remedy, a fungicide, which closes the wounds so they can heal without the tree getting attacked by fungi. You should find it in any well-stocked garden supply store in your vicinity. One last point to watch out for is to not harvest trees which grow on polluted soil, like in industrial areas or close to roads, because the birch water can absorb the contaminants from the soil.
You can use the birch water simply as a drink. It has a slightly sweet taste and is said to stimulate the metabolism. It’s also a great skin wash, in case of dry skin/scalp or lichen. If you have severe kidney problems, you should consult a doctor first.
By the way: Back in earlier days, the sap was used to produce wine and mead.
Since birch water has no particularly long shelf life, you should not harvest it on stock.
Leaves: Young birch leaves can serve as a raw snack or can be fried in a little butter or oil. Adding a little salt or sugar (or to stick with birch terms, Xylitol) you have created a healthy snack in no time. You can even make tea out of them quite easily. For this, you can use them both fresh and raw or dried. The tea you get has diuretic and blood-purifying properties.
Branches: The thin branches of birches are often tied together to create a small broom and used in Finnish saunas as so-called “Birch Quast”. Whipping the body with these branches is said to relax the muscles, stimulate circulation and relieve tension.
Pitch: The tar like distillate that results from distilling birch bark is called birch pitch. In earlier days, it was used as a sealant for ships and canoes, and also to fix arrowheads. The oldest discoveries on the use of birch pitch can be dated back to about 200,000 years ago.
Birch sugar/ Xylitol: To learn more about Xylit, the sugar you can get from birches, click HERE “Natural Sweeteners Of Mother Earth”
Of course the maple is part of our dendrology series as well. You will recognize it by its leaves. It even made it onto the national flag of Canada, because the Canadians are very proud of their maple trees. The maple has more to offer than wood, too. It is said, for example, that in summer, it is colder in its shade than in other trees’, because of its cooling properties.
Which parts to use?
Leaves: Maple leaves can deprive the body heat. Thus, grated maple leaves serve well as a relieve after sunbathing or for overworked feet. To cool down, you can also take a bath with maple leaves. Young leaves can be used as a substitute for grape leaves or fermented and cut like Sauerkraut. Prepared like spinach, it can definitely compete, even with the “cream” variant.
The broth from boiled maple leaves is also suitable for producing natural deodorant. We will have a closer look at that in a different article.
Maple syrup:If you want to know more about the production of maple syrup, read HERE “Natural Sweeteners Of Mother Earth”.
Maple seedlings:From February to April you can find small maple seedlings among larger maple trees. These can be eaten raw in salads and have a slightly bitter taste.
Maple wood is frequently used in the manufacture of stringed instruments.
The spruce of course can not be missing in our dendrology.
You can recognize it by its red-brown scaly trunk and the pungent, round needles. It belongs to the fast-growing trees and you can find it almost all over the planet. The spruce is most common in Europe, Asia and North America.
Which parts to use?
Shoots:The young spruce shoots can be used in many ways. You can pickle them in honey and stir them with a little lemon juice to get syrup. It is said that the spruce is great for relieving colds. You can use its shoots as a bath additive, too. They promote the blood circulation of the skin.
Of course you can produce an oil extract of spruce shoots as well. In this case, we recommend a hot extract. To find out how it’s done, look HERE “Produce Oil Extract”. You can use the extract as a rub for colds or as a base for ointments.
Important!!! Please only collect few shoots per tree because it is not growing at this point. Pay mother nature the respect she deserves!
Resin:You can find everything on this subject HERE “Resin – The gold of the forest”. We highly recommend the described resin ointment. We use it for colds, joint pain, tensions and back pain.
In one of our future posts, we will take a closer look at which wood you can best use for what.
Please only collect the leaves, plants, roots etc you really know for sure. Take someone with you who knows his or her way around trees and when in doubt, better leave it alone. The yew, for example, is highly toxic !!!
This was a small excursion into the fascinating world of trees. Dendrology, part two, will follow soon!
Please respect nature, despite the versatility of its fruits, or rather because of it. We are a part of nature, too, and should all make sure that our environment is preserved!
See you soon! Your team of Survival-Tips.de