Himalayan Silver Birch
Latin Name: Betula utilis D. Don
Sanskrit/Indian name: Bhojpatra
Betula utilis (Himalayan birch, bhojpatra, Sanskrit: भूर्ज bhūrja) is a birch tree native to the Himalayas, growing at elevations up to 4,500 m (14,800 ft). The specific epithet, utilis, refers to the many uses of the different parts of the tree. The white, paper-like bark of the tree was used in ancient times for writing Sanskrit scriptures and texts. It is still used as paper for the writing of sacred mantras, with the bark placed in an amulet and worn for protection. Selected varieties are used for landscaping throughout the world, even while some areas of its native habitat are being lost due to overuse of the tree for firewood.
Betula utilis was described and named by botanist David Don in his Prodromus Florae Nepalensis (1825), from specimens collected by Nathaniel Wallich in Nepal in 1820. Betula jacquemontii (Spach), first described and named in 1841, was later found to be a variety of B. utilis, and is now Betula utilis var. jacquemontii