Betula papyrifera Marshall  - Paper Birch


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Betula papyrifera - (image 1 of 5)



Family: Betulaceae


Varied. Common tree of northern regions


Mixed conifers-hardwood forest species. Seeds in readily after fire.


Labrador west to AK, south to NC, WV, northern IN, and northeast IA.


Small to medium-sized tree, occasionally to 30 m, crown pyramidal to rounded with age. Leaves ovate to oval with a doubly serrate margin, acute to acuminate, rounded to obtuse at the base, glabrous above and minutely glandular below; petiole slender with black glands.  Twigs slender, red-brown to orange-brown, with lenticels; buds ovoid, acute. Bark brown when young, soon becoming white and papery; bark of old trees black and fissured. Staminate aments in pairs at the end of twigs. Fruit a cylindrical ament, to 4.5 cm long, pendent.


Flowers mid April to mid May

Wetland Indicator: Facultative Upland

Our characteristic white birch. Very popular for it's white, exfoliating bark. Also called canoe birch. The bark was used by Native Americans to construct canoes. State tree of NH.


Gleason, Henry A. and A. Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. Second Ed.
The New York Botanical Garden. Bronx, NY


Swink, F. and G. Wilhelm. 1994. Plants of the Chicago Region.
Indiana Academy of Science. The Morton Arboretum. Lisle, Illinois.


USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (
National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA




Michael Hough 2004