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Gray Or White Birch (betula Populifolia)

Distinguishing characters: The *dull-white color of the bark* on the

trunk and the _dark triangular patches below the insertion of the

branches_ distinguish this tree; see Fig. 50. The bark of the young

trunks and branches is reddish-brown in color and glossy. The bark

adheres closely to the trunk of the tree and does not peel in loose,

shaggy strips, as in the case of the yellow or golden birch. It is

marked by small raised horizontal lines which are the lenticels or

breathing pores. These lenticels are characteristic of all birch and

cherry trees. In addition to the distinction in the color of the

bark, an important character which distinguishes the gray birch from

all other species of birch, is found in the *terminal twigs*, which

are *rough* to the touch.

Form and size: A small tree. Frequently grows in clumps.

Range: Eastern United States.

Soil and location: The gray birch does best in a deep, rich soil, but

will also grow in poor soils.

Enemies: The _bronze-birch borer_, a wood-destroying insect, and

_Polyporus betulinus_, a fungus, are its chief enemies.

Value for planting: Its graceful habit and attractive bark gives the

tree an important place in ornamental planting. It may be used to

advantage with evergreens, and produces a charming effect when

planted by itself in clumps.

Commercial value: The wood is soft and not durable. It is used in the

manufacture of small articles and for wood pulp.

Other characters: The _fruit is a catkin_.

Comparisons: The _paper birch_ (_Betula papyrifera_) is apt to be

confused with the gray birch, because both have a white bark. The

bark of the paper birch, however, is a clear white and peels off in

thin papery layers instead of being close. It very seldom shows any

dark triangular markings on the trunk. Its terminal twigs are not

rough and its trunk is usually straighter and freer from branches.

The _black_ or _sweet birch_ (_Betula lenta_) has a bark similar to

the gray birch, except that its color is dark gray. See Fig. 51. The

twigs have an aromatic taste.

The _yellow birch_ (_Betula lutea_) has a yellowish or golden bark

which constantly peels in thin, ragged, horizontal films.

The _European white birch_ (_Betula alba_) has a dull-white bark

like the native white birch, but has smooth terminal twigs instead

of rough ones. It is commonly seen in the United States on lawns and

in parks.

Tree Studies

How To Identify Trees
Group I The Pines
The White Pine (pinus Strobus)
The Pitch Pine (pinus Rigida)
The Scotch Pine (pinus Sylvestris)
Group Ii The Spruce And Hemlock
The Norway Spruce (picea Excelsa)
Hemlock (tsuga Canadensis)
Group Iii The Red Cedar And Arbor-vitae
Red Cedar (juniperus Virginiana)
Arbor-vitae; Northern White Cedar (thuja Occidentalis)
Group Iv The Larch And Cypress
The European Larch (larix Europaea)
Bald Cypress (taxodium Distichum)
Group V The Horsechestnut, Ash And Maple
The Horsechestnut
The White Ash (fraxinus Americana)
Sugar Maple (acer Saccharum)
Silver Maple (acer Saccharinum)
Red Maple (acer Rubrum)
Norway Maple (acer Platanoides)
Box Elder (acer Negundo)
Group Vi Trees Told By Their Form: Elm, Poplar, Gingko And Willow
American Elm (ulmus Americana)
Lombardy Or Italian Poplar (populus Nigra, Var Italica)
Gingko Or Maidenhair Tree (gingko Biloba)
Weeping Willow (salix Babylonica)
Group Vii Trees Told By Their Bark Or Trunk: Sycamore, Birch, Beech,
Blue Beech, Ironwood, And Hackberry
The Sycamore Or Plane Tree (platanus Occidentalis)
Gray Or White Birch (betula Populifolia)
American Beech (fagus Americana)
Blue Beech Or Hornbeam (carpinus Caroliniana)
Hackberry (celtis Occidentalis)
Group Viii The Oaks And Chestnut
White Oak (quercus Alba)
Black Oak (quercus Velutina)
Red Oak (quercus Rubra)
Pin Oak (quercus Palustris)
Chestnut (castanea Dentata)
Group Ix The Hickories, Walnut And Butternut
Shagbark Hickory (hicoria Ovata)
Mockernut Hickory (hicoria Alba)
Black Walnut (juglans Nigra)
Group X Tulip Tree, Sweet Gum, Linden, Magnolia, Locust, Catalpa,
Dogwood, Mulberry And Osage Orange
Tulip Tree (liriodendron Tulipifera)
Sweet Gum (liquidambar Styraciflua)
American Linden (tilia Americana)
The Magnolias