Family: Betulaceae (Birch family)
Genus: Betula
Botanical name: Betula utilis
Sanskrit: bahulavalkalah, bahupata, bhurjapatraka
Hindi: Bhoj patra
English: Himalayan Birch, Bhoj Patra Tree
Malayalam: Bhurja maram
Himalayan Birch tends to form forests, growing as a shrub or tree reaching up to 20 m (66 ft) tall. It frequently grows among scattered conifers, with an undergrowth of shrubs that typically includes evergreen Rhododendron. The tree depends on moisture from snowmelt, rather than from the monsoon rains. They often have very bent growth due to the pressure of the deep winter snow in the Himalaya.
Leaves are ovate, 5 to 10 cm (2.0 to 3.9 in) long, with serrated margins, and slightly hairy. Flowering occurs from May–July, with only a few male catkins, and short, single (sometimes paired) female catkins. The perianth has four parts in male flowers, and is absent in the female flowers. Fruits ripen in September–October.
The thin, papery bark is very shiny, reddish brown, reddish white, or white, with horizontal lenticels. The bark peels off in broad, horizontal belts, making it very usable for creating even large pages for texts. A fungal growth, locally called bhurja-granthi, forms black lumps on the tree weighing up to 1 kg.
The wood is very hard and heavy, and quite brittle. The heartwood is pink or light reddish brown.

The bark has antiseptic properties. An infusion of bark is used as carminative. The bark containing betulin is reported to possess anti-fertility activity. The bark is used in bone fracture. The bark is astringent, deodorant, antibacterial, constipating and expectorant. It is useful in hysteria, epilepsy, bacterial infections, wounds, diarrhoea, dysentery, haemorrhages, jaundice, leprosy, skin diseases and general debility.
Betula utilis
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