BIRCH. The genus Betula L. in Iran has been variously identified as B. alba L. (e.g., Sāʿī, I, p. 187; Parsa, IV, pp. 1343-45, VIII, p. 26) or B. pendula Roth. = B. alba L. subsp. verrucosa Regel, B. ovata C. Koch, etc. (e.g., Ṯābetī, p. 163). It is found in western Azerbaijan, along the Karaj river valley, Ṭālaqān, Towčāl, between Zīrāb and Šahmīrzād, etc. (southern slopes of the Alborz). Various foreign or indigenous names are indiscriminately mentioned for this tree in our sources, e.g., betula and sandar (both from Arabic sources, cf., e.g., Ghaleb, s. vv.), qān/ḡān, qūš(a)/ḡūš(a), and tūs, but modern Iranian botanists seem to prefer tūs, which is the local name of the tree in Karaj and Šahrestānak valleys.
According to Sāʿī (loc. cit.) tūs timber is not strong enough for construction purposes, but it provides very good firewood and charcoal. Its twigs, delicate but strong, are used locally for making brooms, and its bark, which contains a lot of tannin, is employed in tanning. Further, Ṯābetī (p. 164) says that the tree was used in the past for the treatment of gout, but he does not specify which part(s) of it.
E. Ghaleb, Dictionnaire des sciences de la nature . . . , 3 vols., Beirut, 1965-66.
A. Parsa, Flore de l’Iran, Tehran, IV, 1949, VIII, 1960.
Ḥ. Ṯābetī, Jangalhā, deraḵtān a deraḵṭčahā-ye Īrān, Tehran, 1355 Š./1976.
K. Sāʿī, Jangal-šenāsī, Tehran, 1327 Š./1948-49.
Originally Published: December 15, 1989
Last Updated: December 15, 1989
This article is available in print.
Vol. IV, Fasc. 3, p. 264