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Birch, name for various deciduous trees and shrubs of the family Betulaceae, characterized by their smooth, white outer bark, which sometimes peels off in layers. The heart-shaped leaves have saw-tooth edges. Birch grows widely in the cooler parts of the Northern Hemisphere. The close-grained timber is used for furniture, the bark for tanning and thatching. Among the best-known species are the paper birch of North America, used by Native Americans to make canoes and tents; the silver birch, a native of Europe, widely used in the USSR for roofing material, containers, and in processing leather; and the yellow birch, which makes up some 75% of the American harvest of birchwood.

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