Betula populifolia Marshall  - Gray Birch


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Betula populifolia - (image 1 of 4)



Family: Betulaceae


Open sites, often on sterile soils. Fire adapted.


Often with Pinus rigida on sterile sites.


Nova Scotia west to southern Quebec, south to NJ and PA, with scattered populations to northern VA, southern Ontario, northern OH, and northern IN. Escaped from cultivation at the Morton Arboretum in northeast IL.


Small to medium-sized tree, to 30 m. Leaves triangular, long acuminate, margin doubly serrate. Twigs slender, with warty-glandular lenticels; buds ovoid, gummy. Bark brown when young, soon becoming grayish white with little exfoliate; scars of old branches forming black triangular patches. Staminate aments solitary at the end of twigs. Fruit a cylindrical ament, spreading or ascending.


Flowers early spring

Wetland Indicator: Facultative Upland

Widely planted now as a replacement for B. papyrifera because it is more resistant to borers in warmer climates. The European weeping birch, B. pendula, is similar but with drooping twigs and diamond-shaped rather than triangular black marks on the trunk.


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