Birch-Tree (Common), or Betula alia, L. is one of the indigenous trees which has already been mentioned under the head of " Alder-tree, " though the latter is only a species of the same genus, and ought more properly to have been denominated Betula alnus, L.

The white, or common birch-tree, is not of a large growth, but when cultivated in a favourable soil, and a good situation, it rises to a considerable height. There is a degree of elegance in its general appearance in summer, and the bark in winter is frequently variegated with red and white. It is easily cultivated by the usual method; but, when raised from seed, the young shoots of the birch should remain two years in the seminary, and then be transplanted in rows. They may also be propagated by layers : for this purpose, a sufficient number of plants should be placed at a distance of three yards from each other, in a soil which has been twice turned by the spade. If, in the following year, they should produce no shoots, they may be lopped to within half a foot of the ground, to form the stools, in consequence of which they will germinate with vigour in the following summer. In autumn, the young shoots should be plashed near the stools, and the tender twigs layered near the ends. Thus managed, they will have taken root, and become tine plants, the following autumn.

The wood of the birch is of very extensive use, as we have before stated under the article Alder. Prof. Pallas informs us, that the Tartars cover their huts with its bark, and the navigators of the Volga construct of it portable boats, cradles, etc.; it is also used in fumigations, to purify a vitiated atmosphere. The Laplanders cut the outer bark into thongs, of which they manufacture ropes, baskets, and other utensils; and it even forms some part of their wearing apparel : it is also used in dyeing ; and, as a substitute for oak-bark, in tanning. The Swedish house-wives employ this bark, after burning it to a certain degree, as a cement for broken china, or earthen-ware. When boiled with alum, it affords a dye of a dark-red colour. Dameourney asserts, that the bark is better for tanning, when dried, than in a fresh state. For this purpose, it is cut into small pieces, and boiled for half an hour in pure water; and the prepared hides are steeped in it, whileluke-warm. The ley is again boiled on the two following days, and the sleeping of the leather as often repeated ; after which it is suspended to dry in the air. Leather thus prepared, is said to, be water-proof.

The leaves of the birch give a yellowish colour to wool, which has been previously prepared with alum. Those collected in the spring, however, are not so proper for dyeing, as the autumna leaves; because the former produce a greenish tinge ; but the latter afford a beautiful yellow colour. They have also been used in the dropsy, itch, etc. either applied externally, or in decoctions taken by the mouth.

The fungus which grows on the trunk of the birch-tree, is a very good styptic ; and when boiled in water, beaten, and dried in an oven, it makes excellent touch-wood.

Birch-twigs are used for fishing rods and brooms; as well as by bird-catchers, who smear them with bird-lime.

Birch-Wine was formerly in considerable repute, as a remedy for nephritic disorders, b:t is disused in modern practice. As it is a rich cordial, and, according to Dr. Needham, an excellent remedy for consumption, and the scurvy, we shall acquaint our readers with' the method of preparing it; though we have no experience of its medicinal powers.

The juice or sap of the birch-tree, should be extracted about the beginning of March, when the buds begin to swell, and before they have opened .their leaves. An incision, or hole must be made in. the trunk, almost as deep as the pith, under some branch of a well-spreading tree, on its southwestern side, and about one foot above the ground: a hollow tube should then be fitted to the aperture, through which the sap wilt flow similar to distillation. On applying a little mould to the orifice, the wound will heal, and the bark afterwards close. Some persona are of opinion, that the sap drawn from the trunk of the tree, is not so pure as that obtained from its higher branches. To prevent this juce juice from fermenting, till a sufficient quantity is procured, the bottles in which it is collected, ought to be immediately stopped.

One of the best methods of making birch-wine is as follows : to every gallon of the sap, add a pint of honey, or a pound of sugar, stir the whole together, and boil it for an hour with a few cloves, and a little lemon peel ; at the same time carefully scum the rising impurities. When coo!, a few spoonfuls of new- ale should be added, to induce a proper degree of fermentation ; and, after the yeast has settled, the wine should be bottled up, and kept for use. If this liquor be prepared with proper attention, it becomes so strong that the common stone bottles, into which it is decanted, frequently burst.

Birch-Tree (Dwarf), or, Be-lula nana, L. an indigenous, creeping plant, which grows on moist heaths', and rarely exceeds three feet in height. It has roundish leaves, tender branches, a smooth bark, and its flower-catkins are uncommonly small: this diminutive tree, however, is more common in the marshy parts of Russia, Sweden, and on the mountains of Lapland and Norway, than in Britain. From its fibrous roots, the Norwegians and Laplanders manufacture very beautiful carpets ; and its leaves are said to produce a more delicate yellow colour, than those of the common birch.

Birch-Tree (vol.i. p.260). - LEonardi remarks, in the 2d volume of his " Natural History, " p. 629, Germ. edit, that the flower catkins of this tree, when boiled in water, afford a good substitute for Soap.

Beside the utility of the sap or juice of the birch-tree, in affording a delicious wine, it appears from the experiments of Herbstaedt, that sugar may be obtained by inspissating the juice of the variety, called Black Birch. Such sugar, however, is not only of an inferior quality, but less in quantity, than that prepared from the Sugar-maple.