Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Betula alleghaniensis Britt.
BETULACEAE (Birch Family)
EtymologyBetula is the Latin name for birch; alleghaniensis is the Latin for from or of the Allegheny Mountains, refering to plants from Eastern North America.
DescriptionA small to medium (to 30') deciduous, broad-leaved tree, yellow birch has distinctly silver gray to yellow-brown bark that peels in curly, thin strips. Mature trees have darker brown, shiny, peeling bark. The twigs, when crushed, emit a slight wintergreen odor and taste.
Wetland indicator statusFAC
Plant Height30 feet
LeavesDeciduous, alternate, simple, coarsely double-toothed, 2-4" long; ovate with pointed tip and rounded or heart-shaped base; underside with soft hairs in vein axils; often in pairs; yellow in autumn; buds and twigs hairy.
Flower/InflorescenceMale and female flowers on same tree. Male catkins: in 2's or 3's, long and drooping, not stalked. Female catkins: in 2's or 3's, 3/4 -- 1 3/16" long, oblong, erect, not stalked or nearly stalkless.
Flowering PeriodMay-June
FruitSamara (dry, winged nutlet), 1/8", roundish, broad lateral wings; in mature, brown, female catkin.
Fruiting PeriodSeptember.
HabitatMoist woods, stream banks.
RangeNewfoundland to southern Manitoba; south to Delaware, Ohio, and Minnesota.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett