Trees A Crowd


The Birches: Magic Shrooms to Witches Brooms, the A to Z of the Birch nurtured

Season 3, Ep. 28

Our fortieth and forty-first trees, the Silver Birch (Betula pendula) and Downy Birch (Betula pubescens) - with apologies to the Dwarf Birch (Betula nana). Our birches are some of our very earliest colonisers, and as such there is little the birch does not nurture; for example, its mycorrhizal relationships support hallucinogenic mushrooms, witches’ brooms and barber’s razors, we drink it, and prisoners of gulags have even written love letters on it… The birch was also instrumental in helping Dr Suzanne Simard discover the secrets going on beneath our soil in the Wood Wide Web. Added to this the corporal punishment of sailers and barren cows, an ancient language of tree-climbing and how it is involved in the magic urine trade, and you have a couple of very special trees. (Special thanks to Alan Devine for adding his voice to this week’s episode.) More from David Oakes as he uproots the secrets and stories beneath the 56(ish) Native Trees of the British Isles can be found at:

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