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The Birches - Hornbeam and

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THE BIRCHES - HORNBEAM AND Tatterdemalion birches This exclamatory phrase by 11rs. Amu! Botsford Comstock gives the clue to the character of these most interesting trees. Their threadbare, ragged tplorel proclaims the members of this family, Avliether we meet them in the far north or below the 'Propic of Cancer. Shock ingly are many of them, if we judge them ordinary tree standards. But birches are far from cu.dinarA-. From the tree that skull:s in the swamps to the stately con ventional tree in the {)01'k they themselves \Via all air so graceful, so nonchalant that we find in them charms that are altogether irresistible. Alliether their end he into the ignoble shoe peg, or into furniture that shall pass for the birches live their lives with cheerfulness. The beauty and individuality of each tree, young or old, is its own sufficient. excuse for being.

The geniis lletula has thirtv-live species, distributed over the northern hemisphere. _\s far north as degrees the birches are still trees in Europe. and as shrubs they- reach four dc;rree.s higher latitude. the nine American species of birch six occur east of the 1Zocl:v Jlonntains. They are genc-ii ally ylic1;-growing, short-lived trees. a few having considerable timber value. As a rule, the trunks of birches form a central shaft from which the branches rise, and end in supple, drooping twigs. The foliage is li lit and graceful, the simple leaves being. thin and Horizontal lines called /enticcis are conspicuous on the bark. They are organs of respiration.

The of the birch are of two sorts. both borne on the same tree. The staminate catkins are terminal and lateral.

and hang in plain view on the bare twigs all l'he pistillate catkins are lateral, and are protected by bud scales. They are formed in autumn, but du not elon,c-ate until spring. l'wo or thr(?e are horse on each scale of the Catkin. \\ilia becomes a small cone. The fruit is a flat heart-shaped samara, winged on the edge like the elm fruit.

The White Birch, lletaht has a twist in the stein of its little pointed leaf, which sets the tree top all of a f reml de whenever the lightest breeze comes by. For this reason the name -• Poplar-leaved Birch " is given it. Its chalky, thin outer bark is dingy white, and so Gray Birch " is another of its names. In New England it is often called Oldfield Birch," because it grows in fields abandoned by the farmer. The bark of this tree has a frayed-out look, but does not peel horizontally. The dis tinguishing marks are the dark furrowed base of the trunk from which the delicate, white outer layer is entirely gone, and the rough, dark, triangular patches, one under each branch, which grow with the tree's growth, even after the branch is dead and gone. In the northeastern states the

White Birch is met with along streams and highways, always where the soil is unproductive. It is the gypsy of the birch family, stunted by generations of scanty living, but lithe and graceful, always flaunting its tawdry ribbons among the somber evergreens, and the staid and conven tional broad-leaved trees.

Like a fair lady in a far country" is the elegant European White Birch. Betida allm. varieties of which stand with high-bred poise, the central figure on many a lawn. In supple grace, in symmetry and in daintiness of twig and leaf it is unsurpassed among ornamental trees. In its native country it grows wild as far as the North Cape. The numerous varieties in cultivation may be grouped under two sub-species: intheseen8, embracing varieties with downy leaves ; and peadala, including varieties with drooping branches. If one wishes to plant a purple-leaved weeping birch, let him order actida alba pendula atropurpkrea ; or write laciniata instead of atroptopurea if lie prefers the dainty cut-leaved weeping birch. One cultivated variety of this species has the spiry habit and form of the Lomliardy poplar.

The Canoe or Paper Birch. ]'etch p«pyrifera, is a majestic forest tree when full grown. Its ing characteristic is the habit of shedding its tough bark in curling horizontal plates. thus revealing layers of orange yellow under the white exterior. This birch bark made the canoes and wams of the northern Indians, and lends itself still to many uses both practical and imithetic, notably letter-writing. A small strip of bark will furnish an incredible number of thin sheets. Summer tourists often girdle the trunks for souvenir letter paper. Unfortunately the process is generally fatal to the tree. The birches in our lawns are often defaced and ruined by thoughtless persons. The white birch is very sensitive to girdling. It takes only a few minutes with a pen knife to destroy the beauty of a line birch tree. Yet such a specimen may have been the growth of twenty or thirty years, and the joy of passers by all that time. The leaves of the Canoe Birch much resemble those of the American Ivhite birch, but the hark easily identifies each tree. The Birch ranges widely through the northern states and Canada.

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