China's Flora Tour: The tough trees first reborn from the wild fire
By Zhao Ying

An unexpected fire is a life-and-death test for every species in the forest, from tiny mosses to giant birches. The white birch with exuberant vitality is the first to grow from the ashes. Not only that, but the tree is also known to prevent the fire from spreading in northern Sweden, getting the city of Umeå the nickname "the city of birches."

In Ergun in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, the yellowish dense birch forest pointing to the sky is an unmissable view every autumn. In legends, Genghis Khan's army once marched across this quiet forest and considered it an auspicious omen. They then pitched their tents and rested there.

The white birch forest. /VCG Photo

The white birch forest. /VCG Photo

The white birch or paper birch is named for its peelable white bark. The soft and dry bark can be directly used as paper. In ancient India and Nepal, many Sanskrit scriptures were found to be written on white bark. For Vikings, the stout bark was also the perfect material to build canoes because the outer bark is water-proof.

During the famine, people in northern Europe would even put dried and ground bark together with flour to make bread. Apart from that, the white birch contains a sweet sap that not only prevents cells from freezing but also makes birch syrup.

The white birch forest. /VCG Photo

The white birch forest. /VCG Photo

The white birch thriving at altitudes of 400 to 4,100 meters is truly the tree of life for people in the north. It symbolizes the fighting spirit in a harsh environment and guards lives in obscurity.

The white birch forest in snow. /VCG Photo

The white birch forest in snow. /VCG Photo

China's Flora Tour

From the wetlands along the coast to the dense rainforests hidden in the southwest of China, all boast an array of plant species. In this series, we will go on a tour to learn about some of the most representative flora in different provinces and see how they live in harmony with the local geography and climate.

Read More:

China's Flora Tour: Inner Mongolia-The golden warriors that fix sand, make delicacies

China's Flora Tour: Inner Mongolia-Haloxylon – a tough desert plant

China's Flora Tour: Inner Mongolia-Euphrates poplar – king of the desert

(Cover image via VCG, designed by CGTN's Jia Jieqiong.)

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