Photo Credit
Photo courtesy of Paul Alaback.

Paper birch

Scientific name
Betula papyrifera
Also Known As
Canoe birch, Paperbark birch, Silver birch
Plant Family
Birches have flowers in small clusters (catkins) which hang from the branches and mature before leaves emerge. Paper birch has white, peeling bark but some western varieties can have brown or coppery bark.
Identification Hints

Birches have flowers in small clusters (catkins) which hang from the branches and mature before leaves emerge. Paper birch has white, peeling bark but some western varieties can have brown or coppery bark.

Did You Know?

The sap and inner bark is used as emergency food. White birch can be tapped in the spring to obtain sap from which beer, syrup, wine or vinegar is made. The inner bark can be dried and ground into a meal and used as a thickener in soups or added to flour used in making bread. A tea is made from the root bark and young leaves of white birch. It was also used by native Americans to make canoes, buckets, and baskets. North American Indian tribes used white birch to treat skin problems of various rashes; skin sores, and burns.  Prepared By Lincoln M. Moore at the USDA NRCS National Plant Data Center.

Leaves
Oval or triangular-shaped, greener on the topside and paler on the underside.
Flowers
In long, yellowish clumps called catkins. Flowers bloom in mid-spring.
Fruits
Paper birch fruits are tiny winged-nutlets about 1.5 mm long by 0.8 mm wide.
Bark
Thin, smooth and dark on young stems, becoming bright creamy white with a peeling, papery texture.
Habitat
Grows best in well-drained soils with cold soil temperatures and ample moisture. This species grows best in full sunlight and is very shade intolerant.
States
AK, CO, CT, IA, ID, IL, IN, MA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MT, NC, ND, NE, NH, NJ, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, SD, TN, VA, VT, WA, WI, WV, WY