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Betula papyrifera

Betula papyrifera Marsh.

 

American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFagalesBirch, she-oak, beech, walnut, bayberry, others
FamilyBetulaceaeBirch family: birches, alders, hazels, hornbeams and hop-hornbeams
GenusBetulaBirch
SpeciespapyriferaFrom papyrus, once used for paper, for the paper-like bark

About plant names...

The American white birch or paper birch is a native of North America. Papyrifera means ”paper”—the white, peelable bark is smooth and paperlike.

Identification: The paper birch reaches about 60' (18 m) in height, rarely up to twice that. The trunk (sometimes multiply stemmed) is typically bright white, up to 12" (30 cm) in diameter, with a peeling, papery bark. However, young trees consist of a reddish bronze bark that does not peel, and sometimes, especially in western trees, this bark remains throughout the tree’s life. Trees tend to be pyramidal when young, becoming more irregular as they age. Leaves are alternate, ovate, with pointed tips; dark green above, pale green below, yellow in the fall. Both male and female flowers occur on the same tree. Male flowers are catkins 2-4" (5-10 cm) long. Female flowers are also catkins, 1-1½" (2.5-3.8 cm) long.

Please don’t peel bark from these trees—it can kill them!

Online References:

Betula papyrifera at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Betula papyrifera on Earl J.S. Rook's Flora, Fauna, Earth, and Sky ... The Natural History of the Northwoods

Betula papyrifera at the USDA Forest Service's Silvics of North America site

Betula papyrifera on eFloras

Betula papyrifera at the University of Connecticut Plant Database

References:

Eastman, John; illustrated by Hansen, Amelia, The Book of Forest and Thicket: Trees, Shrubs, and Wildflowers of Eastern North America, Stackpole Books, 1992, p. 25

Sibley, David Allen, The Sibley Guide to Trees, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, p. 151

Petrides, George A., Peterson Field Guides: Trees and Shrubs, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1972, p. 231, 338

Little, Elbert L., National Audabon Society Field Guide to North American Trees, Eastern Region, Alfred A. Knopf, 1980, p. 179, 615, 368

Little, Elbert L., National Audabon Society Field Guide to Trees, Western Region, Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1980, p. 206, 383

Dirr, Michael A., Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs, Timber Press, 1997, p. 57

Symonds, George W. D.; photos by Chelminski, Stephen V., The Tree Identification Book, Harper, 2003, p. 44

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

7/2/2016 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

8/15/2015 · Grafton Notch State Park, Newry, Maine
≈ 16 × 24" (39 × 59 cm)

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

1/1/2012 · Big Tree Trail • Tudor Richards Natural History and Forest Trail, Hollis, NH
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

1/1/2012 · Big Tree Trail • Tudor Richards Natural History and Forest Trail, Hollis, NH
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

5/10/2016 · Old Long Loop, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH

Betula papyrifera description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 5 Oct 2016.

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Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

11/30/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

9/20/2014 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

3/9/2012 · Groton Place and Sabine Woods, Groton, MA
≈ 14 × 9" (35 × 23 cm)

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

The raised horizontal patches—lenticels—are part of the tree’s “respiratory system,” allowing gas exchange. · 8/15/2015 · Grafton Notch State Park, Newry, Maine
≈ 8 × 12" (21 × 31 cm)

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

11/30/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton
≈ 31 × 46" (78 × 117 cm)

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

5/10/2016 · Old Long Loop, Beaver Brook Conservation Area, Hollis, NH

Betula papyrifera (American White Birch, Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, American Birch)

12/10/2011 · Groton Place and Sabine Woods, Groton, MA
≈ 16 × 24" (41 × 62 cm)

Range:

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