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Betula

n.

genus of the birches, from Latin betula "birch," from Gaulish betu- "bitumen" (cf. Middle Irish beithe "box tree," Welsh bedwen "birch tree"). According to Pliny, so called because the Gauls extracted tar from birches. Birch tar is still sold as an analgesic and stimulant and made into birch beer by the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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