Paper Birch

Paper Birch is a deciduous tree that grows 30 – 40 m tall with oval pointed leaves and bark that is reddish brown when young and maturing into white or cream coloured. Paper Birch is best known for its bark which will easily peel off in large sheets. Please note that peeling bark from live trees will leave large dark scars and can even kill the tree in some cases.

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Description
Latin Name Betula papyrifera
Type Tree
Description Paper Birch is a deciduous tree that grows 30 – 40 m tall with oval pointed leaves and bark that is reddish brown when young and maturing into white or cream coloured. Paper Birch is best known for its bark which will easily peel off in large sheets. Please note that peeling bark from live trees will leave large dark scars and can even kill the tree in some cases.
Height and Spread  30 – 40 m tall.  Up to 7 m in spread.
Bloom Colour Has both male and female catkins on the same tree, pale green in colour.
Bloom Months Early spring, before leaves.
Foliage Colour Pale green, turning to yellow.
Seed Months Late summer to fall.
Light and Water Shade intolerant. Grows in wet areas in seepage areas. Unable to tolerate long periods of either drought or saturated soils.
Ethnobotany Information First Nations peoples in BC used the bark widely to make canoes, baskets, cradles, and even toboggans. The Secwepemc people also used the leaves to make soap and shampoo.
Wildlife Uses Paper Birch is an important browsing food for wildlife such as deer and moose. The seeds also attract many species of birds.
Garden Uses Paper Birch is particularly beautiful and has a long history of ornamental use. With stark white bark and green to yellow leaves, if planted in a location with appropriate water Paper Birch adds significant value to a landscape.
Facts Do not peel bark from life Paper Birch trees. This causes permanent scars and can even kill the trees. Please find trees that have already died to collect bark from.
Propagation Techniques Paper Birch is often germinated by seed. If done by hand they must be kept cool for 1-3 months before germination will begin.