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Similar but less problematic plants:
Betula nigra Betula nigra
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Ulmus alata Ulmus alata
Betula jacquemontii Betula jacquemontii
Ulmus americana Full Form
Betula papyrifera has some common insect problems:
Aphids Found on Flowers and Foliage
Leafminer Flies
Bronze Birch Borer

Paper Birch Betula papyrifera

Phonetic Spelling
BET-yoo-luh pap-ih-RIFF-er-uh
Description

Betula is Latin for birch and describes a genus of about 60 species of deciduous trees and shrubs found in many gardens and landscapes throughout the northern hemisphere. Betula papyrifera, or Paper Birch, is a loosely pyramidal tree when young changing to irregular oval to rounded with age: It usually retains low branches and can be single or multi-stemmed. It can be trained to be multi-trunked (which tends to produce a shorter tree with an irregular crown) or single trunked (which is taller with a rounded crown). It is easy to transplant and casts a light shade. This tree is noted for its white bark, which exfoliates in papery strips to reveal an orange-brown inner bark. Mature trees develop black markings on the white bark. However, it is not pollution tolerant, has shallow roots, and tends to be short-lived in warmer climates.

Paper Birch is best grown in moist, acidic, sandy or rocky, well-drained soils, but will tolerate a range of soil types. It does well in full sun to part shade, but best foliage color occurs in full sun. If the plant is sited in an area of summer heat and humidity, it will appreciate afternoon partial shade. The plant does best in cool northern climates where summer temperatures rarely exceed 75 degrees F. and where root zones are generally covered with snow throughout the winter. Its native habitat is northern Canada and Alaska and it is the state tree of New Hampshire. Keep the tree consistently moist and consider using soaker hoses and bark mulches to keep the root zones cool and moist. It needs little pruning, but if necessary, you can prune during the dormant season. Do not prune in winter or spring when the sap is running because it will bleed.

Birches are considered a "pioneer" species and, thus, tends to grow quickly when young. Tiny monoecious (male and female) flowers appear in early spring in separate catkins on the same tree. Greenish female flowers are followed by drooping cone-like fruits containing numerous small winged seeds that typically mature in late summer.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

Birches can become stressed by summer heat and humidity. It is not recommended for planting south of USDA Zone 7. Paper Birch is somewhat susceptible to the bronze birch borer, which can infect and kill trees. Aphids, leaf miner and birch skeletonizer may occur. Watch for leaf spot problems.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#deciduous#fall color#yellow#full sun#white bark#moths#tree#yellow leaves#winter interest#birch#northern climate#larval host plant#sandy soils tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#deciduous#fall color#yellow#full sun#white bark#moths#tree#yellow leaves#winter interest#birch#northern climate#larval host plant#sandy soils tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Betula
    Species:
    papyrifera
    Family:
    Betulaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    The use of the bark for making birch bark canoes is well known.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Northern United States and Canada
    Distribution:
    South to the appalachians in zone 7; does not do well below that zone.
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant is a larval host plant for the lunar moth.
    Play Value:
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    tolerates a range of soil types
    Dimensions:
    Height: 50 ft. 0 in. - 70 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 25 ft. 0 in. - 45 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Multi-stemmed
    Multi-trunked
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3b, 3a, 4b, 4a, 5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    1-3 inches
    Fruit Description:
    Female flowers are followed by drooping cone-like fruits containing numerous small winged seeds that typically mature in late summer.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Flowers are both male (yellow/brown) and female (green). Tiny monoecious flowers appear in early spring in separate catkins on the same tree: male flowers in drooping catkins (to 4” long) and female flowers in smaller, upright catkins (to 1 1/4” long). Each catkin has numerous tiny flowers less than 1/8"
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Smooth
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    This plant has 2 to 4 inch leaves that turn a rich yellow to golden yellow fall color. Irregularly toothed, dark green leaves.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Dark Gray
    Light Gray
    Orange
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Papery
    Peeling
    Bark Description:
    White bark that exfoliates in papery strips to reveal an orange-brown inner bark. Mature trees develop black markings on the white bark.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Form:
    Straight
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Rain Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Moths
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Poor Soil
    Wet Soil