BETULA, L. Birch Tree. Valuable trees for the timber, sap and bark. The best is B. lenta; many vulgar names, Sweet Birch, Black B., Cherry B., Spice B., Mountain Mahogany. Wood much used by cabinet makers, takes a fine polish: bark with a sweet spicy smell and taste, like Gautiera, alterative and antiscrofulous, pectoral, diaphoretic and depurative. Nelashkih of the Osages, used for colds, coughs, and breast complaints, scrofula and sores. A tea of the bark or twigs commonly used by empirics for obstructions, complaints of the bowels; a syrup of birch bark and peach stones used as stomachic and restorative after dysentery. A beer is made with the decoction, also with the sap, which is sweet like maple sap, and can become syrup and honey by boiling. All the Birches give a similar sweet sap. The twigs, inner bark, leaves and buds have more or less the same smell and taste. The B. rubra or Red Birch, has a fine timber for cabinet makers. The Indians use the light bark for canoes, B. papyracea (white or paper birch) chiefly, whose white smooth bark can be written upon. The Birch wood makes fine hoops; the empyreumatic oil of the distilled wood, gives the peculiar smell to the Russia leather, no insects touch it, useful also to preserve furs.
Medical Flora, or Manual of the Medical Botany of the United States of North America, Vol. 2, 1830, was written by C. S. Rafinesque.