New York Metropolitan Flora

Genus: Betula

Betula papyrifera
Betula populifolia   Marsh.  -  Gray Birch

Photo © by Steven Clemants
Take at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1991.

Betula alleghanensis
Betula populifolia   Marsh.  -  Gray Birch

Photo © by Steven Clemants
Take at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1991.

Betula nigra
Betula populifolia   Marsh.  -  Gray Birch

Photo © by Steven Clemants
Take at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1991.

Betula lenta bark
Betula populifolia   Marsh.  -  Gray Birch

Photo © by Steven Clemants
Take at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1991.

Betula lenta catkins
Betula populifolia   Marsh.  -  Gray Birch

Photo © by Steven Clemants
Take at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, 1991.

By Science Staff

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 02/01/2013

Back to Betulaceae


Betula L., Sp. Pl. 982. 1753. Gen. Pl. 422. 1754. LECTOTYPE: Betula alba L., designated by Britton & Brown (1913).

Chamaebetula Opiz, Lotos 5: 258. 1855. TYPE: Not designated.

Key to the species of Betula

1. Multi-stemmed shrub...Betula pumila
1. Single- or multi-trunked tree...2

2. Bark on mature trunks whitish...3
2. Bark on mature trunks yellowish-gray to dark reddish-brown or blackish-brown...7

3. Bark on mature trunks tight, not exfoliating... Betula populifolia
3. Bark on mature trunks exfoliating into thin strips...4

4. Leaf undersides pubescent at least along veins...5
4. Leaf undersides glabrous...6

5. Leaves cuneate or acute at the base... Betula papyrifera
5. Leaves subcordate at the base...Betula cordifolia

6. Leaf apices with a long tapering tip...9
6. Leaf apices acuminate without long drawn tip...Betula platyphylla

7. Leaf blades rhombic-ovate, base broadly cuneate to truncate; twigs without a wintergreen taste or odor...Betula nigra
7. Leaf blades ovate to elliptic, base rounded; twigs with a wintergreen taste or odor...8.

8. Bark of mature trunks exfoliating; leaf undersides without shiny resin dots...Betula alleghaniensis
8. Bark of mature trunks not exfoliating; leaf undersides with shiny resin dots...Betula lenta

9. Leaves deltate or rhombic, bases mostly cuneate; axillary buds 4-5 mm long, apices acute or acuminate...Betula pendula
9. Leaves ovate, bases mostly truncate; axillary buds 5-7 mm long, apices obtuse to acute...Betula ×caerulea

List of Betula Species

References to Betula

  • Abbe, E. C. 1933. The inter-relationship of the genera of the Betulaceae, based on anatomical studies of the inflorescence, the flowers, and the secondary xylem. MS Thesis Harvard Univ.,
  • Abbe, E. C. 1935. Studies in the phylogeny of the Betulaceae. I. Floral and inflorescence anatomy and morphology. II. Extremes in the range of variation of floral and inflorescence morphology. Bot. Gaz. 97: 1-67.
  • Abbe, E. C. 1930. The anatomy and morphology of the staminate inflorescence and flowers of the Betulaceae. M.S. Thesis Cornell Univ., Ithaca, NY33 plates + 30 p.
  • Abrams, M. D.; Kubiske, M. E.; Mostoller, S. A. 1994. Relating wet and dry year ecophysiology to leaf structure in contrasting temperate tree species. Ecology 75: 123-33.
  • Ahlgren, C. E. 1957. Phenological observations of nineteen native tree species in northeastern Minnesota. Ecology 38: 622-8.
  • Alam, M. T.; Grant, W. F. 1971. Pollen longevity in birch (Betula). Canad. J. Bot. 49: 797-9.
  • Alam, M. T.; Grant, W. F. 1972. Interspecific hybridization in birch (Betula). Naturaliste Canad. 99: 33-40.
  • Allard, H. A. 1945. A second record for the paper birch, Betula papyrifera, in West Virginia. Castanea 10(2): 55-7.
  • Altpeter, L. S. 1944. Use of vegetation in control of streambank erosion in Northern New England. J. Forest. 42(2): 99-107.
  • Ames, O. I. 1939. Survey of hurricane damage at Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Arborist's News 4(1): 5-6.
  • Amthor, J. S.; Gill, D. S.; Bormann, F. H. 1990. Autumnal laef conductance and apparent photosythesis by saplings and sprouts in a recently disturbed northern hardwood forest. Oecologia 84: 93-8.
  • Anderson, A. B. 1955. Recovery and utilization of tree extractives. Econ. Bot. 9(2): 108-40.
  • Anderson, E.; Abbe, E. C. 1934. A quantitative comparison of specific and generic differences in the Betulaceae. J. Arnold Arbor. 15: 43-9.
  • Ashburner, K. 1980. Betula: a survey. The Plantsman 2(1): 31-53.
  • Ashburner, K. 1979. Betula species and bark character. Int. Dendrol. Soc. Year Book 1979: 47-57. (Abstr. in Forestry Abstr., 42(8):3524. 1981.)
  • Atkinson, A. D. 1998. A Bibliography of the genus Betula. ()
  • Atkinson, M. D.; Codling, A. N. 1986. A reliable method for distinguishing between Betula pendula and B. pubescens. Watsonia 16(1): 75-6.
  • Axelrod, D. I. 1983. Biogeography of oaks in the arcto-tertiary province. Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 70: 629-57. (Many other genera disscussed)
  • Bailey, I. W. 1910. Notes on the wood structure of the Betulaceae and Fagaceae. Forest. Quart. 8: 178-185.
  • Ball, J.; Simmons, G. 1980. The relationship between bronze birch borer and birch dieback. J. Arboric. 6(12): 309-14.
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  • Barden, L. S. 1983. Size, age, and growth rate of trees in canopy gaps of a cove hardwood forest in the southern Appalachians. Castanea 48: 19-23.
  • Barnes, B. V. 1978. Pollen abortion in Betula and Populus (section Leuce). Michigan Bot. 17(4): 167-72.
  • Barnes, B. V.; Dancic, B. P.; Sharik, T. L. 1974. Natural hybridization of yellow birch and paper birch. Forest Sci. 20: 215-21.
  • Barrett, J. W.; Farnsworth, C. E.; Rutherford, W. Jr. 1962. Logging effects on regeneration and certain aspects of microclimate in northern hardwoods. J. Forest. 60(9): 630-9.
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  • Berbee, J. G. 1957. Virus symptoms associated with birch dieback.
  • Bernston, G. M.; Bazzaz, F. A. 1996. The allometry of root production and loss in seedlings of Acer rubrum (Aceraceae) and Betula papyrifera (Betulaceae): implications for root dynamics in elevated CO2. Amer. J. Bot. 83(5): 608-16.
  • Bernston, G. M.; Farnsworth, E. J.; Bazzaz, F. A. 1995. Aoolcation, within and between organs, and the dynamics of root length changes in two birch species. Oecologia 101: 439-47.
  • Bevington, J. 1986. Geographic differences in the seed germination of paper birch, Betula papyrifera. Amer. J. Bot. 73: 564-73.
  • Bevington, J. M.; Hoyle, M. C. 1981. Phytochrome action during prechilling induced germination of Betula papyrifera Marsh. Pl. Physiol. (Lancaster) 67: 705-10.
  • Bjorkbom, J. C. 1971. Production and germination of paper birch seed and its dispersal into a forest opening.
  • Bjorkbom, J. C.; Marquis, D. A.; Cunningham, F. E. 1965. The variability of paper birch seed production, dispersal, and germination. (Upper Darby, PA)
  • Black, M. 1956. Interrelationship of germination inhibitors and oxygen in the dormancy of seed of Betula. Nature 178: 924-5.
  • Black, M.; Hoad, G. V. 1968. The role of germination inhibitors and oxygen in the dormancy of the light-sensitive seed of Betula spp. J. Exp. Bot. 10(28): 134-5.
  • Black, M.; Wareing, P. F. 1955. Growth studies in woody species. VII. Photoperiodic control of germination in Betula pubescens. Physiol. Pl. (Copenhagen) 8: 300-16.
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  • Brayshaw, T. C. 1966. The names of yellow birch and two of it's varieties. Canad. Field-Naturalist 80: 160-1.
  • Brittain, W. H.; Grant, W. F. 1965. Observations on Canadian birch (Betula) collections at the Morgan Arboretum. II. B. papyrifera var. cordifolia. Canad. Field-Naturalist 79: 253-7.
  • Brittain, W. H.; Grant, W. F. 1967. Observations on Canadian birch (Betula) collections at the Morgan Arboretum. V. B. papyrifera and B. cordifolia from eastern Canada. Canad. Field-Naturalist 81: 251-62.
  • Brittain, W. H.; Grant, W. F. 1967. Observations on Canadian birch (Betula) collections at the Morgan Arboretum. IV. B. caerula-grandis and hybrids. Canad. Field-Naturalist 81: 116-27.
  • Brittain, W. H.; Grant, W. F. 1971. Observations on the Betula caerulea complex. Naturaliste Canad. 98: 49-58.
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  • Clark, J. 1961. Birch dieback. In: Recent Advances in Botany: from Lectures and Symposia Presented to the IX International Botanical Co. Toronto. , 1551-5 pages.
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  • Clark, J.; Gibbs, R. D. 1957. Studies in tree physiology. IV. Further investigations of seasonal changes in moisture content of certain Canadian forest trees. Canad. J. Bot. 35: 219-53.
  • Clausen, J. J.; Koslowski, T. T. 1965. Heterophyllous shoots in Betula papyrifera. Nature 205: 1030-1.
  • Clausen, J. J.; Kozlowski, T. T. 1965. Heterophyllous shoots in Betula papyrifera. Nature 205: 1030-1.
  • Clausen, K. E. 1960. A survey of variation in pollen size within individual plants and catkins of three taxa of Betula. Pollen & Spores 2: 299-304.
  • Clausen, K. E. 1975. Variation in early growth and survival of yellow birch progenies.
  • Clausen, K. E. 1973. Genetics of yellow birch.
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  • Collingwood, G. H. 1941. Red birch. Amer. Forests 47: 284-5.
  • Collingwood, G. H. 1942. Black birch. Amer. Forests 48: 412-3.
  • Collingwood, G. H. 1942. Yellow birch. Amer. Forests 48: 178-9.
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  • Coyle, B. F.; Sharik, T. L.; Feret, P. P. 1981. An evaluation of disjunctness in the distribution of river birch (Betula nigra). Virginia J. Sci. 32(3): 102.
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