Gray Birch

Gray Birch

Betula populifolia

betula populifolia

Classification

  • Clade: Eudicots/Rosids
  • Order: Beech
  • Family: Cupuliferae (Birch Family)

Height

  • 12 m (30’)

Leavesbetula populifolia

Gray Birch trees have simple, alternate, deciduous leaves on 3 cm long petioles covered in black glands. They are 8 cm (3”) long and can be distinguished from white birch by the degree to which it narrows at the leaf apex. They taper into a tail-like apex.

Twigs

Gray Birch twigs are very warty compared to White Birch tree twigs. Unlike Yellow Birch, they do not give off a wintergreen smell when damaged.

Crown

The Gray Birch tree crown is narrow, open, and airy. The branches may droop downward.

Trunk/Bole

Gray Birch trees are often multiple trunked. Their bark is white with dark horizontal stripes and dark chevrons (upside-down V’s) at maturity. Unlike White Birch (Paper Birch), the bark does not peel.

Catkin (flowers)betula populifolia

Birch flowers are classified as catkins and resemble caterpillars. They flower from mid-April to May.

Ecosystem Role

Gray Birch trees are a food source for deer, who eat the twigs, and birds, who eat the seeds and buds.

Habitat

Gray Birch trees are considered a pioneer species, as they are among the first trees to grow after an area has been cut over or burned. They are common in old fields that are converting to forested landscape.

Range

Gray Birch are found in Northeastern United States and Canada.

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