Yellow birch

Silhouette - yellow birch
  • Latin name: Betula alleghaniensis Britt.
  • French name: Bouleau jaune
  • Synonym(s): Swamp birch
  • Taxonomic Serial Number: 19481
    509506 [syn. B. lutea Michx. f.]
Description

Leaves

  • Leaf with detail of double-toothed margin - yellow birch

Form

  • Oval, tip slender, sharp-pointed
  • Base rounded, indented
  • Veins straight, parallel, 9 or more per side
  • Preformed leaves on dwarf shoots and the basal part of long shoots become hairless
  • Neoformed leaves on the apical part of long shoots remain densely hairy

Length

  • 8–11 cm

Margin

  • Each vein ends in a large tooth, with 2 or 3 smaller intervening teeth

Buds

  • 3-scaled lateral bud and leaf scar - yellow birch

Form

  • Sharp-pointed, often hairy, especially on young trees

Colour

  • 2 shades of brown on each scale

Twigs

  • Winter twig - yellow birch

Form

  • Slender, usually slightly hairy
  • Wintergreen flavour when chewed

Colour

  • Uniformly brown

Flowers

Form

  • Seed catkins erect at pollination

Length

  • Pollen catkins about 2 cm by late autumn, about 8 cm at pollination
  • Seed catkins 1.5–2 cm

Width

  • Pollen catkins 2–3 mm by late autumn

Structure

  • Monoecious

Fruits

  • Fruit scale (left); winged nutlet (right) - yellow birch

Form

  • Mature seed catkins cone-like, erect on spur shoots
  • Nutlets with narrow wings
  • Scales hairy, with 3 narrow ascending lobes
  • Catkin axis with its scales often remains on the tree over winter

Length

  • Mature seed catkins about 3 cm
  • Scales 5–7 mm

Timing

  • Ripen in late September, shed during succeeding months

Bark

Form

  • Thin, with thin, papery shreds ending in tight curls, not peeling readily
  • With age separates into large ragged-edged plates on the lower part of the trunk

Colour

  • Shiny reddish-brown when young, becoming dull yellow
  • Gradually darkens to a bronze colour with age

Wood

Texture

  • Heavy, hard, strong                                                                                    

Colour

  • Golden brown to reddish-brown

Morphology

  • Often wavy-grained

Uses

  • Furniture, cabinetwork, flooring, doors, veneer, plywood

Size

Height

  • To 25 m

Diameter

  • To 60 cm

Maximum age

  • 150 years

Tree form

  • Silhouette - yellow birch

Forest-grown

Trunk

  • Straight to sinuous, with little taper

Crown

  • Irregularly rounded
  • Branches large, wide-spreading, with drooping tips

Root system

  • Wide-spreading, often with some larger roots on or above the surface

Habitat

Site

  • Rich, moist soils

Light tolerance

  • Moderately shade-tolerant

Associated species

  • Beech, sugar maple, basswood, eastern hemlock, balsam fir, eastern white pine, white spruce, and red spruce
Insects and diseases

Insects and diseases that are found most frequently and/or that cause the most damage in our Canadian forests.

Photos
  • Yellow birch
  • Yellow birch
  • Yellow birch
  • Yellow birch
  • Yellow birch
  • Yellow birch
  • Yellow birch
Distribution map
Distribution map - yellow birch
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