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  1. any of various trees of the genus Betula, native to countries in the northern hemisphere.
  2. a hard wood taken from the birch tree, typically used to make furniture.
  3. a stick, rod or bundle of twigs made from birch wood, used for punishment.


Birches often form even-aged stands on light, well-drained, particularly acidic soils. They are regarded as pioneer species, rapidly colonising open ground especially in secondary successional sequences following a disturbance or fire. Birches are early tree species to establish in primary successions and can become a threat to heathland if the seedlings and saplings are not suppressed by grazing or periodic burning. Birches are generally lowland species, but some species such as Betula nana have a montane distribution.

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