I spent many hours in trees as a kid and in addition to a beautiful magnolia in our yard there was a birch tree. its thin paperbark fascinated me. at some point i would like to plant some birch near our pond. we have acidic soil and it is somewhat of a low lying area so I think there is a good chance a stand of birch would be happy there.
of course the first thing that comes to mind as useful trait is paper. I am not well versed in the particulars of paper making but I know birch has been used for this in the past and possibly still is.
I have read that it has a particularly high oil content that makes it great for firewood, even freshly cut, as well as some possible medicinal uses.
the wood is of course soft, relatively light weight and flexible and that certainly could have some uses. I think some american indian tribes utilized it for this very reason.
I've never had the pleasure of tasting birch syrup, only the sap. But I can tell you that birch wine tastes amazing. I've never had anything even remotely like it.
I've been thinking about making birch syrup this year and will probably do up at least a few litres so I'll let you know how that goes. I seem to recall that birch sap 'runs' at the tail end of maple syrup season so it could be possible to get a harvest of both. Unless I am in some uncommon microclimate and this is not the norm
We burn a lot of birch for cooking and heat. When we had goats they practically lived on the browse from the brush piles. During the winter that was a large part of their diet and they thrived. Birch is one of the most useful trees you Can have on your homestead. Firewood, browse, bark for basket & fire starter, sap makes a great spring tonic or for cooking down to syrup.
I have not seen it any other places than New England or upstate NY, but the root can be used for beer in the same manner as sarsaparilla, or sassafras is for root beer. It is my favorite pop (on the rare occasion I have one), a crisp, clean clear beverage that can be addicting. Try birch beer!
Connecticut Accredited Nurseryperson Accredited Organic Land Care Professional (NOFA)