Don’t peel that birch bark!

Don’t peel the birch bark!

Scribble Picnic: Curly

The prompt this week is curly. When we first think of curly we think of curly locks – Shirley Temple. But my mind went to our week at the cottage when the kids brought some pieces of birch bark over to the fire. Joining #ScribblePicnic with Michael.

We explained that we do NOT take any bark from the tree as it will hurt the tree – it’s a protective covering and when it is taken off the plant hurts. It does burn very well even when wet.

As a Canadian I value our birch trees.

Here is a national song I learned as a child:

Land of the silver birch, home of the beaver, where still the mighty moose, wanders at will. Blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more…


“Don’t peel the bark”. As a young girl this warning has stuck in my head. It takes 5 years for the tree to recover from being peeled.

Instead peel the bark from dead birches, fallen branches, or peel that naturally falls to the ground. We would make canoes, teepees and many other crafts from fallen birch bark.



2 minute sketch of bark peeling off the birch tree.


Progression with pencil crayon.



Final picture – very quick today as I am travelling once again.

Here are a few interesting posts about birch trees.

Canadian Icon revealed 

Does peeling birch bark cause harm to the tree




  1. I like your interpretation for the theme, Janis. Not peeling the bark from birch trees is a good lesson for kids to learn. I love trees and I don’t even like to see people carving names into them.

    1. Serena,
      Yes I don’t like carving of names in them either. But most trees it is not the tree’s skin. On the birch it is the covering and it has trouble recovering – just like a cut on our knees.

  2. I remember that song 🙂 I will admit I was one of those kids that did peal the bark off of them, but i was pretty young when I did. Now I jsut collect what the deer have scrapped off 🙂

    1. Breathe Lux,
      I am sure if you peeled a little it wouldn’t hurt. But it is good for people to know that they can hurt the trees. Hope you are well.

  3. Janis, I feel I can always learn something from you. Your drawing is lovely and the message is well stated. I used some tree bark in a project earlier this summer but only because I found it on the ground and it had such and interesting pattern. I will heed your warning to never peel it from the tree.

  4. Yes, that’s a good piece of advice that we always heard too…even though we only ever had coal fires when younger. SO, a great interpretation for curled. Totally novel and I love that. Thank you, Janis! Geeat job.

    1. Michael,
      I loved all the novel interpretations this week. We actually put some loose birch bark on the campfire and it did burn very very well.

  5. Great take on the theme. An interesting story about bark Janis – I do always enjoy seeing a stand of birch trees, especially in winter. Best ones I ever viewed were in Kamchatka – with all those snow-covered volcanoes in the background! Your story reminded me of that amazing place and my awesome trip to such a far away place!

    Best wishes always – Mary

    1. Latane,
      I guess I should show my other art work with birch trees. Yes they are beautiful and you can put so many shades of colours in them as well – sun spots.

  6. Same here! My mother was a nature lover and I was always taught not to pull the bark off trees, (because it’s their skin) and only to take bark that had fallen off naturally.

    Your sketch makes me think of Stuart Little, who paddles his birch bark canoe with a wooden ice cream spoon.

    1. Oh Paula I love that image of Stuart Little in a little birch bark canoe. How delightful!.
      And I remember being told it was the tree’s skin as well.

  7. I don’t live in the land of the Birch tree as you do, but I have traveled there and I have so loved the Birch that I have always had one in my yard. They aren’t prolific enough here to even consider peeling them, but I have seen the art work done with them. I would never peel a birch but I hope your message gets to those who would …

    Andrea @ From The Sol

    1. Andrea,
      It is amazing how many people don’t know not to peel the bark. Yes it would be great to tell more people. Where do you live again? I’m so glad you can enjoy a birch tree where you live.

    1. Thanks Christine,
      I guess being at the cottage had my mind on the trees when I thought of curly. Yes I remember writing a short story on a piece of birchbark.

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