Red Birch River Birch





=Habitat and Range.=--Along rivers, ponds, and woodlands inundated a

part of the year.



Doubtfully and indefinitely reported from Canada.



No stations in Maine, Vermont, Rhode Island, or Connecticut; New

Hampshire,--found sparingly along streams in the southern part of the

state; abundant along the banks of Beaver brook, Pelham (F. W.

Batchelder); Massachusetts,--along the Merrimac river and its

tributaries, bordering swamps in Methuen and ponds in North Andover.



South, east of the Alleghany mountains, to Florida; west, locally

through the northern tier of states to Minnesota and along the Gulf

states to Texas; western limits, Nebraska, Kansas, Indian

territory, and Missouri.



=Habit.=--A medium-sized tree, 30-50 feet high, with a diameter at the

ground of 1-1-1/2 feet; reaching much greater dimensions southward. The

trunk, frequently beset with small, leafy, reflexed branchlets, and

often only less frayed and tattered than that of the yellow birch,

develops a light and feathery head of variable outline, with numerous

slender branches, the upper long and drooping, the reddish spray clothed

with abundant dark-green foliage.



=Bark.=--Reddish, more or less separable into layers, fraying into

shreddy, cinnamon-colored fringes; in old trees thick, dark

reddish-brown, and deeply furrowed; branches dark red or cinnamon,

giving rise to the name of red birch; season's shoots downy,

pale-dotted.



=Winter Buds and Leaves.=--Buds small, mostly appressed near the ends of

the shoots, tapering at both ends. Leaves simple, alternate, 3-4 inches

long, two-thirds as wide, dark green and smooth above, paler and

soft-downy beneath, turning bright yellow in autumn; outline

rhombic-ovate, with unequal and sharp double serratures; leafstalk short

and downy; stipules soon falling.



=Inflorescence.=--April to May. Sterile catkins usually in threes, 2-4

inches long, scales 2-3-flowered: fertile catkins bright green,

cylindrical, stalked; bracts 3-lobed, the central lobe much the longest,

tomentose, ciliate.



=Fruit.=--June. Earliest of the birches to ripen its seed; fruiting

catkins 1-2 inches long, cylindrical, erect or spreading; bracts with

the 3 lobes nearly equal in width, spreading, the central lobe the

longest: nut ovate to obovate, ciliate.



=Horticultural Value.=--Hardy throughout New England; grows in all

soils, but prefers a station near running water; young trees grow

vigorously and become attractive objects in landscape plantations;

especially useful along river banks to bind the soil; retains its lower

branches better than the black or yellow birches. Seldom found in

nurseries, and rather hard to transplant; collected plants do fairly

well.






1. Leaf-buds.

2. Flower-buds.

3. Branch with sterile and fertile catkins.

4. Sterile flower.

5. Fertile flower.

6. Scale of fertile flower.

7. Fruit.

8. Fruiting branch.





=Betula populifolia, Marsh.=





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