Árbol abedul


Betula pendula tristis

Bedoll (Catalan) | Bidueiro (Galician) | Vidoeiro (Potuguese) |
Abedul Blanco (Spanish) | Bouleau blanc (French)

A deciduous tree of medium height, and generally slender trunk, the silver birch grows between 10 and 30 m high. It is very slim, has an elongated crown and generally drooping young branches. A typical tree of sunny and humid areas, it is found abundantly in the Basque Country, easily distinguished by its golden colouring in autumn, it´s foliage making a beautiful vibrating sound with just the minimum of winds.

The silver birch is characterised by the silvery colour of its bark, a whiter colour reflecting the healthier it is, along with horizontal fissures. The base of the trunk, however, darkens and its cracks widen with age.

The leaves are about 6 cm long, 1/3 of which is the petiole (stem). Overall, they are triangular shaped, with serrated margins and a pointed tip. Their flowers are grouped in hanging catkins, both male and female on the same tree.

Urki is the Basque name for the birch; Daniel Oholeguy in Euskalmitología (Basque mythology) tells us that in the area of Zuberoa in the Pyrenees, it is called Burkhi (in Basque), an older term that preserved the original letter B, stemming from the Celtic Burke.

The birch is the tree that marks the start and finish of a new life cycle; it is the last tree in the forest to shed its leaves and the first to grow new leaves. The branches of the birch do not harden until later into the year.

Urkia or Silver Birch, together with lizarra (ash) and Haritza (French oak) are sacred trees in Basque culture.

Strabo, the Greek geographer and philosopher, cites that Basque mountain inhabitants used bowls carved from birch or urki, just like the Celts, warming them on stones heated in the fire. The kaiku, is a short jug, its body taking a conical and inclined form in order to collect milk, an extended spout for pouring as well as a long handle, all carved out from a single piece. The same pitcher was traditionally used to prepare and consume cuajada (milk curd).

One of the wood species used to craft the uztarria (oxen yoke) in the Basque Country is the silver birch, made entirely from a single piece of wood. The ploughman or uztargile is considered to be one of the official traditional crafts and trades. We use the word ’uztartu’ in Basque in the sense of fusing, harmonizing or pairing.

Another use for the silver birch is found in the fashioning of rafts used in the Roncal region of Navarra. Each section of raft measured approximately 5,5 m long, except for the last section which was longer and wider at the back end. Each raft or portion was tied together with branches from the silver birch, made flexible by first warming them over bonfires.

A magical ritual was to use the green bark of the silver birch to remove calluses from feet: by making an incision following the contours of the foot on the green bark and as they dry, so do the calluses. In the Basque Country, the bark was also used to eliminate menstruation.

SILVER BIRCH characteristics

Discover the different parts of the tree are like

Árbol abedul



Flor del abedul


Fruto del abedul


SILVER BIRCH flowering

  • JAN
  • FEB
  • MAR
  • APR
  • MAY
  • JUN
  • JUL
  • AUG
  • SEP
  • OCT
  • NOV
  • DEC