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What Is the State Tree of New Hampshire? How Was It Decided?

River Birch_Normal69_Pixabay

Ever since 1947, the White Birch has been the state tree of New Hampshire. It’s an essential symbol of the state that has been nicknamed “The Queen of the Woods” and can be found all over the state.

Here are some interesting facts about this unique tree.

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Deciding the New Hampshire State Tree

State symbols such as trees and flowers became popular throughout the 20th century, and today every state has an official tree. In 1947, the white birch was proposed as New Hampshire’s state tree. The New Hampshire Federation of Garden Clubs was the driving force behind the bill, and the motion passed to universal agreement. It was an easy choice for New Hampshire—common, useful, and beautiful.

Sweet Birch Tree_Elizaveta Glinskaya_Shutterstock
Image Credit: Elizaverta Glinkskaya, Shutterstock

About The Queen of the Woods

A few months after the white birch was named a state tree, the New Hampshire Troubadour gave this tree its nickname—queen of the woods. This nickname comes because the tree is distinctive, beautiful, and common throughout the state. White birches are slender, graceful trees reaching up to 80 feet tall. They have beautiful papery white outer bark that makes them stand out from the trees around them.

This bark actually serves several important purposes. It is resistant to water and rot, protecting the trees from New Hampshire’s wet weather. A dead birch tree will rot from the inside out, with the white bark surviving longer than the internal wood.

The outer bark also helps the tree survive the long winters. The white bark reflects sunlight, keeping the internal wood at a consistent temperature throughout the winter. This lets the inner wood cool slowly throughout the winter as it goes into torpor. Otherwise, this tree would constantly thaw and refreeze every day and night, damaging the heartwood.

White Birch Uses

White birch is a useful tree. It is also known as paper birch or canoe birch because when the first Europeans came to the Americas, they saw Native Americans using the thin white bark to write on and building canoes from its wood. It was also used to construct wigwams, a type of dwelling place made by Native Americans in this part of the country. Today, birch wood is used for a variety of woodworking uses, including furniture, cabinetry, and other purposes.

White birch bark is commonly used as a natural campfire starter because it is water-resistant and burns easily. Make sure that stripping bark for starting a fire is allowed in your camping area before you make use of it, though. These trees are often found growing in yards and gardens, providing shade and greenery to the surrounding area.

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Last Thoughts

No matter where you are in New Hampshire, the white birch won’t be far off. From high mountain slopes to woodland streams to backyard shade trees, these white trees are seen all over the state. It’s an integral part of the state’s wild landscape and native culture. And next time you pass by a white birch, you’ll be able to know a few of the things that make it unique.

See also: 10 Wildflowers That Grow In New Hampshire (Identification Guide with Pictures)


Featured Image Credit: Normall69, Pixabay

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