paper birch
Betula papyrifera

Paper birch has the most extensive range of the North American birches. It is a northern species, occuring from coast to coast across Canada, and extending well into Alaska. It is easily identified by the vibrant white exfoliating bark of mature trees.

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Light Fall Color Water
Growth   Size

Timber Value

      Paper birch is used for veneer, plywood, pulp and paper, furniture, cabinets, specialty items, fuelwood, and toothpicks, interestingly.


Wildlife Value
      Paper birch provides browse material and cover for deer and moose. Seeds, buds, and catkins are eaten by various birds and small mammals. The inner bark is eaten by porcupines.
          Attracts: voles, shrews, deer, moose, hares, porcupines, redpolls, siskins, chickadees, ruffed grouse, yellow bellied sapsuckers

Regeneration methods
      Clearcuts work well due to natural seeding and stump sprouting from juvenile paper birch undergrowth. Good seed crops occur approximately every other year.

Important Problems Early Detection tips
bronze birch borer upper branch die back

Fun facts
Paper birch has high fuel value. A study of 23 other species found paper birch to have the highest caloric value per unit weight, and the third highest per unit volume. Paper birch is the favorite sap source of the yellow bellied sapsuckers - hummingbirds and red squirrels feed at the sapwells created by the sapsuckers. Paper birch bark was used by Native Americans to make birchbark canoes.
Betula: Latin (pitch - bitumen is distilled from the bark or Sanskrit "bhurja" (to shine" (bark))) / papyrifera: paper bearing - Egyptian for reed - Greek "papyros" (paper) and Latin "ferre" (to bear)
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2004 Virginia Tech Forestry Department, all rights reserved. Text, images, and programming by: Dr. Jeff Kirwan, Dr. John R. Seiler, John A. Peterson, Edward C. Jensen, Guy Phillips, or Andrew S. Meeks.

questions, comments, and criticisms: email John.Peterson@vt.edu