The first stand out fact I read whilst researching the birch tree was that its fuel value is very good.

The second was that it is used in a lot of cellulite reducing products. It's fair to say that any woman (and let's be honest that's most of us) who suffers the orange peel backside syndrome would rather a live tree and smooth skin than more bio-fuel (any fuel) on the roads.

Birch oil that is used for cellulite products, soaps, shampoos and beauty products alike is extracted from the inner bark of the tree. It's a pale yellow colour and smells similar to wintergreen.

Studies have shown that if used regularly (i.e. everyday for a month) birch oil can have visible results. It tones and firms the skin, improving texture and softness. If used in conjunction with a scrub the birch oil is a natural way to combat body dimples and avoid all the chemical ingredients found in so many big brand anti-cellulite creams.

If you're one of the lucky few who only have one or two dimples - on the face, perhaps a glass of birch juice may take your fancy. Drunk in countries like Finland, Russia and Denmark it's a watery, pale green, slightly sweet bevvy. In China the sap is transformed into a refreshing light beer, which is believed to have tonic qualities.

While we're on the subject of how the birch benefits body, here's one more interesting item. The chaga mushroom that grows on white birch trees extracts components from the birch and has been used to remedy cancer. A cellulite tonic that cures cancer? Not quite but it's clearly a tree we want to keep around for a long while yet.