The birches are sprouting leaves.
Here's a pic.
Pic: Birch-lined road.
Dunno what that would be in English, a birch alley? A birch lane? It's a birch-lined road.
Those sound about right. Magical picture. There are lots of myths around Birch in this country, mostly around marriage, good vibes and fertility. The sap which collected in the spring is supposed to be good for coughs and the skin. I might try and do it this year.
When the birches start to leaf out it's too late to tap them for sap; ours stopped producing sap a week ago.
Remind me to do the how-to for birch sap tapping next year; it's not difficult but there's a few things you need to get right.
The "original" (dare I claim that?) root beer was likely sassafras roots infused in birch sap... (if you want sassafras to taste good, its best not to boil it) this is before they started using wintergreen, and all the imported cinnamon, nutmegs, sarsparillas, star anises and such... I haven't yet tapped a birch to try this out, but it sure does sound good, no?
And do you tap white birches? I know that Yellow and Black Birch are sappier trees...
... when all you have is white birches you tap white birches. The sap is about 1/10 (or 1/100? I forget) as sugary as sugar maple sap, and if you want anything but birch water (say, syrup) you'll need to boil it in an underpressure kettle. For much much longer than maple syrup, cos there's that much less sugar in it.
Boil it in a normal kettle and it'll burn to the bottom in no time, cos it does contain sugar ...
Mostly it's a refreshing mineral-rich spring drink, best drunk straight away, or frozen for later use.
I have been tapping birch trees here in Alaska on the Kenai penninsula. Something to help get over the winter blues, which is a very long song up here. The old timers call it being shack wacky. I've been plying my family with the birch sap, disguised in ice tea. They seem to like it. I'm also trying to boil some down to a syrup, but it's rather daunting considering it is suppose to take 100 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of syrup. I've also heard it leaves a smell if you do it in your house, also that the steam is sticky, and it burns easily.......ect. But I'll try it once.
Alas, this year is too late for birch sap in Helsinki: the birches all leafed out over the weekend.
Henriette's herbal is one of the oldest and largest herbal medicine sites on the net. It's been online since 1995, and is run by Henriette Kress, a herbalist in Helsinki, Finland.
Plant Healer Magazine: Very relevant to the practitioner.
http://www.henriettes-herb.com - Copyright 1995–2016 Henriette Kress.