Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Betula populifolia Marsh.
BETULACEAE (Birch Family)
EtymologyBetula is the Latin name for birch; populifolia means with poplar-like leaves, from the Latin: populus = poplar tree + folium = leaf.
DescriptionA small to medium (20-30') deciduous, broad-leaved tree, gray birch has one slender, erect trunk or several trunks that grow in a small cluster. Mature trees have chalky, white bark that is marked with thin, black, horizontal lines and with black chevrons, particularly at the bases of lateral branches. Young trees have brownish bark. Gray birch does not have peeling bark; twigs are rough and bumpy.
Wetland indicator statusFAC
Plant Height20-30 feet
LeavesDeciduous, alternate, simple, double-toothed except base, 2-3" long; triangular with long, tapered tip; yellow in autumn.
Flower/InflorescenceMale and females flowers on same tree. Male catkins: long and drooping, not stalked, solitary at end of twig. Female catkins: 1/2 -- 1 3/16" long, cylindrical, erect, solitary on short stalk at end of twig.
Flowering PeriodApril-May
FruitSamara (dry, winged nutlet), 1/8", roundish, deeply notched tip, broad lateral wings; in mature, brown, female catkin.
Fruiting PeriodSeptember.
HabitatWoods, abandoned fields, roadsides; poor, wet or dry soil.
RangeNova Scotia to southern Quebec; south to New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett