|DESCRIPTION: It is a deciduous tree reaching up to 20 m in height and 10 m in width at a fast growing rate. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The scented flowers are monoecious and are pollinated by the wind. USE: The inner bark - cooked or dried, ground into a powder then used with cereals for making bread etc. Sap - raw or cooked. A sweet flavour. Harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. A beer can be fermented from the sap. Young leaves can be used raw or cooked and used as herbal tea. They are anticholesterolemic and diuretic and works as a germicides. An infusion is used in the treatment of gout, dropsy and rheumatism, and solvent of kidney stones. The bark is diuretic and laxative. The inner bark is bitter and astringent, it is used in treating intermittent fevers and various skin afflictions, especially eczema and psoriasis. The buds are balsamic. The wood is soft, light, durable. It is used for furniture, tool handles, carving, toys etc. It is a source of charcoal that is used by artists and is also pulped and used for making paper. The bark is rich in dye and tannin. GROWING PERIOD: Perennial. COMMON NAMES: Downy birch, White birch. FURTHER INF: It can be found in or at the edge of bogs, in primary and secondary woodlands and along sunny edges. It tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure. A pioneer species, it readily invades old fields, cleared or burnt-over land and creates conditions suitable for other woodland trees to become established. Since it is relatively short-lived and intolerant of shade, it is eventually out-competed by other trees.