Dunbirk / Wortbirk Betula pubescens / Betula pendula

Birch - intro, appearance and characteristics

Birch is a tree up to 25 meters high, with a white trunk that often gives off fine layers of paper-thin white pieces of bark. The birch has drooping branches with fine serrated leaves that are especially picked in the spring.

There are over two wild-growing birch species in Denmark, down birch and warty birch. Before the last ice age, birch was much more widespread in Denmark, but forestry has changed our forests. Both trees have the same active ingredients, so I have collected them in one section.

Birch locations
Wild birch grows preferably on moist ground such as bogs, damp forests, sheltered hedges, grasslands. But birch is planted almost everywhere in the country. Common throughout Denmark.

Funny story
Dunbirken can get a witch's broom. It is a tangle of shoots on the birch's branches, which comes from a fungus that attacks the birch. Superstition says that you should brush your pets with a witch's broom before Midsummer's Eve, then they will not be bewitched. Attached to a string, the witches' brooms could be used to clean the house's chimney and oven. Last but not least, birch ices are fantastic for getting all the bad things out of the body, just think of Shrove Tuesday and saunas.

Birch - active substances and their effect

Birch leaves contain 3% flavoids such as Quercetin, Hyperoside, Myricetin. The flavoids have a slight diuretic and salt-driving effect, which is effective for kidney, pelvic and bladder inflammation. Being a diuretic, birch leaf tea is great for fluid retention in the legs, ankles, feet and fingers.

It can even have a diuretic effect on women who accumulate fluid in the skin during menstruation, so drink to get into those tight pants.

For rheumatic disorders (gout) the birch is also fantastic, it absorbs the high acid content in the joints and as it simultaneously expels lots of bile, it cleans the irritated joints. This has now also been confirmed by a study at the University of Munich, where 1,200 rheumatic patients who were treated with birch leaf capsules participated. Only half as many of the patients who received birch leaf capsules had pain as the test subjects in the control group who received a placebo preparation.

But why buy capsules from a tree in the garden or forest when it is so easy to make tea or birch tincture at home? I have several times picked birch leaves for my aunt Hanne.

Finally, you can also drink birch sap. In the spring, the sap rises in the birch trees with great force. The juice consists of water from the ground and sugars from the birch tree - and it tastes good. You can tap the sap from the birch trees all spring. The easiest way is to cut a finger-thick branch. Stick the end of the branch into a bottle and tie the bottle tightly. After a while, you can pick up the bottle again - now filled with birch sap, which tastes extra good after a trip in the fridge. The juice contains vitamin C, amino acids, potassium, iron, magnesium and many other minerals. It can last 5 days in the fridge, but becomes less and less cloudy the older it gets. You can freeze it if you want birch sap in winter.

You can also drill one, slanted upwards , 5-8 cm. deep hole in the trunk of the tree approx. 80 cm. over the ground. Insert a spigot, pipe or similar into the hole and connect with a hose down to your container. Certain trees can give over 10 liters of sap a day, mostly in the morning.

Birch sap contains the same mineral and salt balance as your sweat, so it is a very good thirst quencher during exercise.


Birch, easy tea recipe

Birch tea for sore joints after spring forest walks.
1 small handful of birch leaves to 1 liter of boiling water
Infuse for 15 minutes and enjoy.

Birkete, delicious for iced tea - against sore joints and water retention

1 small handful of dried or fresh birch leaves
1 spoonful of sweet cream, or vanilla powder if you haven't saved any sweet cream.
2 dl. Apple juice
Honey to taste
1 liter of boiling water

You must use this

Boiling water is poured over all the other ingredients in a jug.
Steeps for 15 minutes and is best enjoyed ice cold.

Storage and durability
Your chilled iced tea can last up to 5 days in the fridge, but I think it will be drunk much sooner. You can also freeze it in a plastic bottle and take it with you on a forest trip, so it is melted and ice cold when you want to enjoy it.

Birch tincture - against joint pain and fluid in the body

1 fl. Vodka or other clear flavorless alcohol
2 large handfuls of young fresh birch leaves

You must use this
1 open-mouth bottle or container that holds tightly and can hold 1 l.

Pour into an open-mouthed bottle. Close the lid tightly and shake twice a day for 5 days. It is filtered and the birch tincture is now ready for use both internally and externally. You will need approx. 10 bottles, if you need to use it against rheumatic disorders or fluid in the body, for a whole year. 1 cl. every morning and evening in a glass of water, will give you the same effect as the expensive birch capsules you buy in the shops.