(From batuo, to beat, because rods are made of its twigs). The birch tree. The betula alba Lin. Sp. Pi. 1393. Nat. order amentaceae.
If this tree is wounded in the spring pretty deeply into its trunk, there gradually issues a large quantity of a limpid sweetish juice. It is best when drawn from the upper part of the tree: soon after the leaves have begun to appear, the juice loses its sweetness. This juice hath been drunk as an antiscorbutic; it sensibly promotes urine, and, freely taken, proves laxative. It has been used in diseases of the skin, and against worms. By fermentation it becomes a vinous liquor; and, inspissated to the consistence of a syrup, it yields in cool places a brownish concrete like manna.
The leaves and bark are antiseptic. The former are applied to erysipelatous inflammations, and the latter is burnt to correct bad air; and for this purpose it is the next in goodness to juniper. The oil is sweet, but not particularly employed: that of the epidermis is black.