Karelian birch: description, photo
Karelian birch is quite rare, perhaps, because of its unusual wood is so highly valued. This tree is a species of silver birch and, despite its name, grows not only in Karelia, but also in Vladimir, Kaluga, Kostroma regions, in the Scandinavian region, the Baltic states, Belarus and some other European countries.
It was noted that a rare species of birch often grows near small villages and villages, that is, in those places where human influence is clearly present.
Description of Karelian birch
There is no such person who would not admire the beauty, grace and a certain femininity of white-trunked birch! But not everyone knows that there are many varieties of this perennial plant, differing in height and shape of the trunk, sprawling crown, long hanging branches. There are generally unique breeds of this tree. About one of them, perhaps the most mysterious, we'll talk.
What is a Karelian birch tree? The description characterizes it as a multi-sex wind-pollinated deciduous plant. It can be in the form of a strong-branching shrub up to 3-7 meters high or a high-trunk tree reaching 25 meters. The high-growth Karelian birch (photographs clearly demonstrate this) is not very different in appearance from the usual one. This is due to similar growing conditions.
Karelian birch, whose seedlings have reddish-brown bark, over time, clothed in white thin bark with cracks. A characteristic feature is the formation under the bark of numerous seals and blisters of wood. Birch bark flakes loosely with whole ribbons. Another difference of this type of birch is the early blooming of buds in comparison with others.
Small leaves are simple, alternate, with jagged edges. Depending on the area of growth and age of the tree, the crown can be oval or round. But more often as it grows, it acquires a rounded shape with graceful hanging branches. Karelian birch, the description of which was given above,thanks to its small foliage and pale green color, it creates a sense of openwork and transparency of the forest, letting a lot of sunlight through its lace crowns.
Growth and reproduction of trees
Birch saplings grow slowly, but after a few years the process is accelerating, providing young trees with an advantage over tall grassy plants. The ability to reproduce in good weather conditions appears in the 8-10th years of life. Karelian birch, the photo of which is presented in the article, has a high reproduction, maintained to a ripe old age.
Female and male flowers form inflorescences-earrings, which are laid in late summer and early autumn. Women's earrings winter in the kidneys, and men's earrings openly. The latter are formed at the ends of the shoots, are characterized by a cylindrical shape and have a length of 5-8 cm. The trees begin to bloom in mid-spring (April-May), before the leaves are thrown out. Light seeds are quickly carried by gusts of wind.
Karelian birch prefers the same habitat as the hanging one. These are mainly pine forests and spruce forests covered with green moss.It grows well on gentle slopes and hillocks, providing good drainage, as well as along ravines in berry forests. It can form small groups, although single plants are often found. Does not grow on wetland soils and does not form continuous thickets.
The unique species of birch has become a symbol of Karelia, and its first descriptions made by Catherine II's subject forstmaster Fokel are dated 1766. He was struck by the incredible beauty of the birch cut, resembling the pattern of natural marble.
Karelian birch - royal tree
Birch Karelian light is not in vain in Russia called the royal tree. It has received worldwide fame for its unusual texture, imitating marble, and a rich palette of golden shades. Dark brown freakish drawing is put by the nature on light yellow background of wood. And Karelian birch among other species is characterized by increased strength and hardness.
The beautiful wood of this tree is not inferior in value to valuable tropical species. For its rare qualities, wood has long been used as an ornamental material for cabinetmakers.From it make exquisite souvenirs, art products, luxury furniture.
Karelian variety - an abnormal form of ordinary birch?
This plant is characterized mainly by low growth and curved trunk with numerous mounds and round swellings. Some scientists believe that the classical Karelian birch, whose height does not exceed three to seven meters, is not at all a separate type of tree, but just an anomalous form, formed under certain conditions from the ordinary hanging. The small size is explained by the fact that a weakened tree lives only about 40 years and grows more slowly than usual "relatives", therefore it does not have time to grow taller.
As for the unique wood texture, the debate continues to this day. Interestingly, Karelian birch can show unusual qualities not from the first years of life, but in a few decades. As a result of observations, scientists have found that only 5-7% of seeds will give a tree with valuable signs of a rare variety. From the rest grow ordinary birch. Only an experienced forester can identify individual specimens of valuable breed among a variety of common birch trees, focusing on the subtle thickening of the branches and trunk.
Karelian birch is a real mystery of nature, which, as the subject of many years of research, has not been fully studied. Therefore, it is not entirely clear what its true origin is, only hypotheses exist. Some scientists are inclined to the version of the impact on the plant of viral diseases; others blame a genetic mutation; the third speak about the influence of climatic and environmental factors in the growing zone, as well as cosmic radiation.
Artificial breeding of Karelian birch
Unfortunately, poaching felling has significantly reduced the number of valuable species, so experts come to the aid of nature. The Karelian birch tree has been artificially grown since the 30s. In particular, the largest are the Karelian plantings of the Kivach reserve. A draft regional program has been developed aimed at reproducing a population of unique Karelian birch.
The patterned marble texture makes up about 25 percent of the total volume of the log, therefore wood is always in value. For one ton of this product in the world market they pay 1.5 thousand dollars, estimating each precious kilogram.
How to distinguish Karelian birch from normal?
Karelian birch is remarkable for its marble pattern, which is its main distinguishing feature and sign of the anomaly of wood formation. The difficulty in determining the truth of a rock lies in the unreliability of obvious external features, so that it is almost impossible to draw the right conclusion from the appearance of the tree. Moreover, there are 6 different subforms.
And yet, the main difference between the unique Karelian birch and the common birch is the branchy, twisted trunk, everywhere covered with mounds and spherical flows. Inside the wood is strongly twisted, since all the fibers are directed at a different angle to the plane of the cut. Due to this, the effect of waviness and curliness is created. The wood is light, with multiple black and brown patches. It is interesting that with artificial cultivation of Karelian birch, the so-called cloning, signs of Karelian texture are transmitted.
Hypotheses of the appearance of Karelian birch
As mentioned earlier, there are heated debates about the causes of the Karelian history. Despite numerous hypotheses of the appearance of the Karelian species of birch,scientists agree that the anomalous formation of the wood of this perennial plant was the result of a certain external influence.
So, most scientists are inclined to the version of the effects of viruses and bacteria. Others consider the cause of the chemical composition of the soil. Someone adheres to the cryogenic theory, according to which the unusual marble texture of wood is formed under the influence of frosts. And although this factor does not fit all regions of origin of Karelian birch, according to Alexander Pugachevsky, in Belarus “it is the cryogenic factor that is one of the most probable.”
The following feature discovered by scientists is very interesting: this type of birch is not typical of ordinary forests. That is, it grows mainly in those places where there were once burnt or cut down forest plantations, as well as in arrays of agricultural use. But in natural conditions, Karelian birch is less common, and, like any disabled person, it grows slowly and does not live long. In any case, it is good that such valuable tree species are protected by law and artificially grown in the format of regional programs.