Alphabetical Plant Listing

Betula papyrifera (Paper Birch)

Paper Birch, Canoe Birch, White Birch


Betula papyrifera, commonly called paper birch or canoe birch, is a robust, fast-growing landscaping tree with a most attractive gleaming white bark, which peels off in papery strips to reveal an orange-brown bark underneath. Growing with an oval rounded habit, mature trees develop black markings on the white bark. The ovate, irregularly toothed, dark green leaves turn bright yellow in fall. In spring, tiny yellowish-brown male flowers appear in drooping catkins while greenish female flowers appear in upright catkins. The female flowers give way to drooping cone-like fruits containing numerous small winged seeds.

The paper birch received its name from the nature of its bark. Long ago, people would peel layers of the thin, paper-like bark and write on it as a way to send messages. The common name of canoe birch comes from the use of the bark for making sleek, lightweight canoes among Native Americans and early fur trappers.

Exceptionally hardy, paper birch performs best in cool northern climates where root zones are often covered with snow in the winter and does poorly in the heat and humid areas. Betula papyrifera is one of the best-loved trees of the New England landscape (it is the state tree of New Hampshire), planted often for the beauty of its distinctive bark and golden fall color.

  • Grows up to 50-70 ft. tall (15-21 m) and 25-50 ft. wide (7-15 m).
  • A full sun or part shade lover, this plant is easily grown in medium to wet, well-drained soils. Tolerates a wide range of soils, including sandy or rocky loams but needs consistently moist soils.
  • Perfect as specimen plant or in borders, cottage gardens, city gardens and foundation plantings.
  • Low maintenance, this plant needs little pruning. If pruning is necessary, prune during the dormant season and avoid pruning in spring when the sap is running.
  • May be affected by sawflies, aphids, rust and leaf spot.
  • Propagate by seed, softwood cuttings or grafting
  • Native to North America

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Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 7
Heat Zones 1 – 7
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, A1, A2, A3
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Betula - Birches
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 50' – 70' (15m – 21m)
Spread 25' – 50' (7.5m – 15m)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Alaska, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Pacific Northwest, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Southeast, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Tolerance Deer, Drought
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden

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gonepaddling / 123RF Stock Photo

While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.


Requirements

Hardiness 2 – 7
Heat Zones 1 – 7
Climate Zones 1, 1A, 1B, 2, 2A, 2B, 3, 3A, 3B, 4, 5, 6, A1, A2, A3
Plant Type Trees
Plant Family Betula - Birches
Exposure Full Sun, Partial Sun
Season of Interest Spring (Early,Mid,Late)
Summer (Early,Mid,Late)
Fall
Winter
Height 50' – 70' (15m – 21m)
Spread 25' – 50' (7.5m – 15m)
Water Needs Average
Maintenance Low
Soil Type Chalk, Clay, Loam, Sand
Soil pH Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Soil Drainage Moist but Well-Drained, Well-Drained
Characteristics Showy
Native Plants United States, Alaska, Midwest, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Northeast, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Pacific Northwest, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Rocky Mountains, Colorado, Montana, Wyoming, Southeast, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia
Tolerance Deer, Drought
Garden Uses Beds and Borders
Garden Styles City and Courtyard, Informal and Cottage, Traditional Garden

Great Plant Combination Ideas with Betula - Birches

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