Trees are amazing!
I was born in the city of birches, a city in the northern part of Sweden. So birches have always had a special place in my heart. They also like so many trees live a mysterious and secret life. Trees have so many stories that they want to tell, and they have many secrets that they maybe want to keep to themselves. Or perhaps they want us to learn more about them so that we can grow our network of knowledge.
Trees are carbon capture machines that are fighting to protect our planet.
Underneath the bark trees are pulsing with life in Spring when water rushes up the trunks to the leaves.
Photo Birch leaves
Some trees have enormous network of branches, oak trees with over 12 km of branches.
There may be more trees on Earth than stars in Milky Way.
Underneath our feet there is the wood wide web. This fungal network connects many trees in a forest together.
There is something magical when the buds on trees unfurl and a new leaf appear.
Can you draw a house where the roof encourages light to fill the space, similar to a forest?
Photo Birch trees
Paper birches or white birch trees, are adaptable and they grow in different types of soil and enviroments.
Robert Frost extolled their flexibility and capacity to provide gymnastic thrills to young boys and other “swingers of birches” in his poem, Birches.
But the most fascinating thing is perhaps the birch’s bark. Birches stand out among their darker neighbours such as spruce and fir. Lovely peeling, papery sheets of white. But why are their bark so white?
Does it help the tree to be so white?
Well, it seems like the whiteness is an adaptation for living in cold environments and avoiding midwinter heat gain. Whiteness reflect heat and light-colored bark reduces the risk of winter injure. With the light from the sun comes heat and if a tree adopts the sunlight it causes heat gain. But in the northern parts of the world this is not a good thing since it causes rapid fluctuations in the temperature.
From a warm sunny day to a cold winter night. These rapid changes in temperature can harm the tree. Frost cracks, sunscald and even the death of the tree. So perhaps the white bark helps birch trees to avoid the dangers of fluctuation in temperature.
There are two types of sunscolding in trees: one happens in winter and the other happens in summer.
People have used the bark to write messages for centuries. What if you could write a secret Valentine message? Draw some black lines on a piece of paper and rip it out. Then write and draw a message to a friend. See the photo above.
Or make some wrapping paper for your gift.
Featured Photo Birch bark inscription excavated from Novgorod, circa 1240–1260.