Paper birch (Betula papyrifera)

Paper birch leaves

Click on the images help you identify an Paper birch.

Form

Height 65' to 70', diameter 14" to 20"; twigs dull orange or red during first winter, later become brown; open crown; grows singly or in clusters.

Bark

Thin, papery; becomes pure white with age, marked by many pores or "lenticels"; separates into thin sheets that often roll up; bark thickens on old trees, becoming dark (nearly black) and scaly.

Leaf

Simple, alternate on stem, length 2" to 3"; oval or heart shaped, pointed, rounded at base, irregularly toothed; becomes thick and leathery in texture; dull on upper side and yellowish green on lower side; turns light yellow in autumn.

Fruit (seed)

Nutlet resembles a cone and contains many tiny seeds; nutlets are tightly grouped in a 1" to 1-1/2" long catkin; ripens in August and September.

Range

Generally abundant throughout the state except the southwest; shade intolerant, fast growing.

Wood uses

Hard, strong, tough, light in weight, brown tinged with red, nearly white sapwood; used for spools, toothpicks, toys, snowshoe frames, handles, paper pulp, flooring, firewood, and interior finish. Years ago, birch bark was extensively used by American Indians for canoes and wigwams and for making baskets, cups, bags, and other useful utensils.