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Birch, Paper Betula papyrifera

Paper Birch - Betula papyrifera
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The Paper Birch offers year-round beauty, with smooth white bark, brilliant yellow fall leaves, and stately grace against the winter sky. Does best in full sun, well-drained, acid, moist, sandy, or silty loam soils. Grows 50' to 70', 35' spread. (zones 2-7)

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Zones 2 - 7 Zones 2 - 7
Hardiness Zones 2 - 7
The Paper Birch can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map. View Map
Ornamental Tree Ornamental Tree
Type of tree
Ornamental Trees, Shade Trees
50' - 70' High 50' - 70' High
Mature Height
The Paper Birch grows to be 50' - 70' feet in height.
35' Spread 35' Spread
Mature Spread
The Paper Birch has a spread of about 35' at full maturity.
Medium to Fast Growth Medium to Fast Growth
Growth Rate
This tree grows at a medium to fast growth rate. More about this.
Full Sun Full Sun
Sun
This birch does well in full sun, partial shade.
Various Soils Various Soils
Soil
The Paper Birch grows in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, well drained, clay soils.
Oval Shape Oval Shape
Shape
This birch has oval shape.
Attributes

Appreciated for its distinctive bark and the golden color of its fall foliage, the Paper Birch tree provides excellent contrast for any landscape. It is the state tree of New Hampshire.

Description

The Paper Birch offers year-round beauty, with smooth white bark, brilliant yellow fall leaves, and stately grace against the winter sky. Does best in full sun, well-drained, acid, moist, sandy, or silty loam soils. Grows 50' to 70', 35' spread. (zones 2-7)

Wildlife Value

Wintering moose find the sheer abundance of paper birch in young stands important, despite it's poor nutritional quality. White-tailed deer eat considerable amounts of paper birch leaves in the fall. Snowshoe hare browse paper birch seedlings and saplings, beaver find it a good second choice food and porcupines feed on the inner bark. Voles and shrews join with Redpolls, siskins, and chickadees eating paper birch seeds. Numerous cavity-nesting birds nest in paper birch, including woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and swallows. Pecking holes in the bark, the yellow-bellied sapsucker finds the paper birch a favorite tree. Hummingbirds and red squirrels then feed at sapwells created by sapsuckers. Ruffed grouse eat the catkins (flowers) and buds.

History/Lore/Use

The Paper Birch tree is steeped in the romance of the north woods, most notably for the use of its bark in canoe construction, as a fire-starter, and as a bearer of messages. Most recent uses include products that require a hard, close-grained wood that does not splinter easily. At one time people would peel layers of the thin, paper-like bark and write messages on it, thus the name Paper Birch.

Moisture

This tree thrives with normal moisture, but has some drought tolerance.

Leaves

The leaves are about 2 to 4 inches long and borne on leaf stem about 1 inch long. Margins are double-toothed and leaves are arranged alternately. Leaves are medium green in summer to bright yellow in fall.

Flower Color

Flowers are brown or green.

Bloom Time

The flowers bloom in April to May.

Fruit Description

The fruit is elongated, 1 to 3 inches, brown, attractive to wildlife.