Bhojpatra

7 months ago

Betula utilis D. Don

English name: Birch 

Family- Betulaceae

Origin and distribution 

Betula utilis is native to China South-Central, Afghanistan, East Himalaya, Nepal, Tibet. In Nepal it is widespread and often dominates the forest at tree line, found between altitudes 2700 – 4300m.

Description 

It is a moderate size deciduous tree. Its bark looks smooth and shining, white or pinkies white, the outer bark consisting of thin papery layer exfoliating in broad horizontal rolls, blaze moist red, fruit nut with narrow wing. This tree is found naturally in Nepal and planted in the Sagarmatha National Park in earlier time. Flowering April – May, fruiting August – September. 

Silvicultural characteristics 

It is a light demanding species. It is frost resistant, but liable to be damaged by browsing and is fire tender. 

Soil: It is often found growing gregariously on landslides and other sites where the soil has been newly exposed thus resembling Alnus nepalensis. It prefers moist situations and often grows near streams and gullies where the snow lies for a long time. 

Regeneration 

The winged seeds are carried long distances by the wind. Seedlings cannot establish themselves under forest shade, or on weed covered ground. 

Viability: The seed is orthodox and should be dried thoroughly and stored in sealed plastic bags. If kept in unsealed containers or cloth bags it will lose its viability within a few months. 

Propagation 

Entire planting. Germination of fresh seed is about 30 – 40 %. At the altitudes where it is likely to be planted it will probably need at least two years in the nursery. The seed should be sown at the rate of about 20 g per m in seed beds or seed trays, with the surface made level, and covered with a very thin layer of sand or sifted soil. Seed beds must be shaded and protected from heavy rain by covering the shades with plastic sheets. The shade should be continued until the seedlings are ready for pricking out. 

Uses

The timber is used for agricultural implements such as threshing sticks, and as fuelwood. The bark is widely used in waterproofing roofs, insulating cracks in walls, and making bottle stoppers. It also has medicinal uses, for treating wounds. The timber weighs about 700 kg per cubic meter. 

Additional readings 

Department of Forest, 2011 Species Leaflets for 131 Woody Species. 

Jackson, J.K. (1994) Manual of Afforestation in Nepal, FORESC, MOFSC, Kathmandu 

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