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Betula populifolia

Betula populifolia Marsh.

 

Gray Birch, Yellow Birch

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderFagalesBirch, she-oak, beech, walnut, bayberry, others
FamilyBetulaceaeBirch family: birches, alders, hazels, hornbeams and hop-hornbeams
GenusBetulaBirch
SpeciespopulifoliaFrom popul for genus “Populus,” and folia for “leaves;” for the poplar-shaped leaves

About plant names...

Gray birch is a North American native.

Plants: Trees reach 33' (10 m) in height, often with multiple trunks, and are pyramid-shaped in form. Bark is dark reddish brown on young trees, becoming white as the tree ages. While white birch bark is a brighter color, and tends to peel easily, gray birch bark is tighter, less likely to peel; and darker, more often interrupted by black markings that are often chevron-shaped.

Leaves: Leaves are fairly triangular in shape (ovate to deltate or rhombic, if you want to get technical). They have irregular and sometimes doubled serrations.

Flowers: Both male and female flowers are found on the same tree (“monoecious”). Male flowers are yellow-brown, 1-3" (2.5-7.6 cm) long, less than ¼" (6.3 mm) in diameter, usually drooping; female flowers are green, about 1" (2.5 cm) long, ⅛" (4.8 mm) in diameter.

Edibility: The inner bark can be cooked or dried, then ground into a meal which may be added to flour, though this is typically done only when more convenient forms of starch are not available. Sap is also edible. Though not nearly as sweet and tasty as that of some maple trees, it is a source of carbohydrates in a pinch.

Online References:

Betula populifolia at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium

Betula populifolia on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Betula populifolia on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Betula populifolia at the Missouri Botanical Garden

Betula populifolia at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences

Betula populifolia on eFloras

References:

Sibley, David Allen, The Sibley Guide to Trees, Alfred A. Knopf, 2009, p. 153

Petrides, George A., Peterson Field Guides: Trees and Shrubs, Houghton Mifflin Co., 1972, p. 232, 338

Little, Elbert L., National Audabon Society Field Guide to North American Trees, Eastern Region, Alfred A. Knopf, 1980, p. 182, 598, 370

Dirr, Michael A., Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs, Timber Press, 1997, p. 59

Symonds, George W. D.; photos by Chelminski, Stephen V., The Tree Identification Book, Harper, 2003, p. 44

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

4/14/2013 · Bemis Rd, Pepperell, MA
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 15 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

9/18/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

6/1/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm) ID is uncertain

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

6/16/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

3/10/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 14" (23 × 35 cm) ID is uncertain

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

3/10/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 8 × 12" (20 × 31 cm) ID is uncertain

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

4/24/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Ayer, MA
≈ 3½ × 4½" (9.2 × 11 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

4/24/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (15 × 23 cm)

Betula populifolia description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 24 Jun 2017.

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Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

3/10/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 9" (15 × 23 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

3/10/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

5/2/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 6 × 4½" (14 × 11 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

The slash may have been made by a black bear. · 6/26/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

6/1/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm) ID is uncertain

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

Color variations on the trunk of a young tree. · 11/13/2011 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

6/30/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 12 × 17" (29 × 44 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

9/25/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

Young paper birches explode around a stump left by a beaver. · 3/10/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 21 × 31" (52 × 78 cm)

Betula populifolia (Gray Birch, Yellow Birch)

10/11/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton Center, Groton, MA
≈ 10 × 15" (26 × 39 cm)

Range: Zones 3-6:

About this map...