White Birch Gray Birch Oldfield Birch Poplar Birch Poverty Birch Small White Birch
=Habitat and Range.=--Dry, gravelly soils, occasional in swamps and
frequent along their borders, often springing up on burnt lands.
Nova Scotia to Lake Ontario.
Maine,--abundant; New Hampshire,--abundant eastward, as far north as
Conway, and along the Connecticut to Westmoreland; Vermont,--common in
the western and frequent in the southern sections; Massachusetts, Rhode
Island, and Connecticut,--common.
South, mostly in the coast region, to Delaware; west to Lake
=Habit.=--A small tree, 20-35 feet high, with a diameter at the ground
of 4-8 inches, occasionally much exceeding these dimensions; under
favorable conditions, of extreme elegance. The slender, seldom erect
trunk, continuous to the top of the tree, throws out numerous short,
unequal branches, which form by repeated subdivisions a profuse, slender
spray, disposed irregularly in tufts or masses, branches and branchlets
often hanging vertically or drooping at the ends. Conspicuous in winter
by the airy lightness of the narrow open head and by the contrast of the
white trunk with the dark spray; in summer, when the sun shines and the
air stirs, by the delicacy, tremulous movement, and brilliancy of the
=Bark.=--Trunk grayish-white, with triangular, dusty patches below the
insertion of the branches; not easily separable into layers; branches
dark brown or blackish; season's shoots brown, with numerous small round
dots becoming horizontal lines and increasing in length with the age of
the tree. The white of the bark does not readily come off upon clothing.
=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds somewhat diverging from the twig; narrow
conical or cylindrical, reddish-brown. Leaves simple, alternate, single
or in pairs, 3-4 inches long, two-thirds as wide, bright green above,
paler beneath, smooth and shining on both sides, turning to a pale
shining yellow in autumn, resinous, glandular-dotted when young; outline
triangular, coarsely and irregularly doubly serrate; apex taper-pointed;
base truncate, heart-shaped, or acute; leafstalks long and slender;
stipules dropping early.
=Inflorescence.=--May. Sterile catkins usually solitary or in pairs,
slender-cylindrical, 2-3 inches long: fertile catkins erect, green,
stalked; bracts minutely pubescent.
=Fruit.=--Fruiting catkins erect or spreading, cylindrical, about 1-1/4
inches long and 1/2 inch in diameter, stalked; scales 3-parted above the
center, side lobes larger, at right angles or reflexed: nuts small,
ovate to obovate, narrower than the wings, combined wings from broadly
obcordate to butterfly-shape, wider than long.
=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England, growing in every
kind of soil, finest specimens in deep, rich loam. Were this tree not so
common, its graceful habit and attractive bark would be more appreciated
for landscape gardening; only occasionally grown by nurserymen, best
secured through collectors; young collected plants, if properly
selected, will nearly all live.
1. Branch with sterile and fertile catkins.
2. Sterile flower, back view.
3. Fertile flower.
4. Scale of fertile flower.
5. Fruiting branch.
=Betula papyrifera, Marsh.=
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