Gray Birch

Gray Birch

Betula populifolia

betula populifolia


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


  • 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.


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.


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


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.


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.


Gray Birch are found in Northeastern United States and Canada.

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