water birch Betulaceae Betula
occidentalis Hook. symbol: BEOC2
Leaf: Alternate, simple, deciduous, ovate to diamond-shaped, 3/4 to 2 inches long, yellow-green above and initially sticky but becoming smooth, paler and glandular below. Margins distinctly serrated or doubly serrated, except near the base.
Flower: Species is monoecious; with both sexes borne in aments (catkins), male aments preformed and clustered, female aments usually solitary.
Fruit: A cylindrical papery strobile (cone) that disintegrates at maturity, 1 inch long, seeds are tiny winged nutlets.
Twig: Young twigs are green and sticky, but turn reddish brown and resin-dotted, eventually turn gray-brown and smooth.
Bark: Thin and smooth, but dotted with conspicuous lenticles, almost black when young, but turning reddish brown to copper-colored as it ages, older bark may loosen and curl but does not exfoliate.
Form: A loosely branched deciduous shrub or small tree growing to 40 feet tall and 1 foot in diameter.
Looks like: paper birch
Additional Range Information: Betula occidentalis is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting water birch.
More Information: Fall Color
External Links: USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson