How do birch trees reproduce

What is a Paper Birch Tree? (How They Reproduce and Their Many Uses)

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Here is everything you need to know about the Paper Birch Tree, how they reproduce, their many uses, where they grow and a few frequently asked questions.

All part of the Betula family, the paper birch tree has many siblings. Silver birch, yellow birch, gray birch, sweet birch, black birch, or the river birch tree, are all a set of very impressive tree species.

They have many similarities: they can produce sap just like the sugar maple (which can then make birch syrup), they all have relatively white bark, their flowers are catkin, and they are all the first to repopulate an area devastated by a forest fire.

The paper birch is an easily recognizable plant due to its papery sheets of bark that peel away in impressive layers. Read on to find out more details regarding the incredible paper birch tree (Betula papyrifera).

We’ve been celebrating all types of trees in our giant article 101 Types of Trees from around the world, so if you’re curious about other kinds of birches or other trees, check it out!

Betula Papyrifera

Paper birch trees come with a couple of nicknames; American white birch tree or canoe birch tree. Out of many birch species, the paper birch is rather short living and fast-growing. Named after the texture and look of their bark, the paper birch is very important to healthy and thriving forests.

This is a medium-sized deciduous tree that will grow to be an average of 20 meters tall with a 30-inch diameter of the trunk. When growing freely in the forest, they will be one long slender trunk with a small ball of a crown, but when grown in urban landscapes they’ll develop multiple trunks or branches closer to the ground.

Member of the Pioneer Species

All birch trees are known as pioneer species. When horrible disturbances occur in a forest, such as an avalanche, forest fire, or heavy wind storm, paper birches are the first tree to arrive at the scene of the crime and germinates the area.

They’ve adapted to areas that experience forest fires every 50-150 years. However, finding them in mature forests is a very rare occurrence, as they are not able to compete with older, taller standing trees for a place in the forest canopy.

Paper birch trees are so comfortable in fire-prone areas because their crowns aren’t particularly flammable due to very high moisture content. Usually, forest fires stop in their tracks once they reach a stand a paper birch trees — they’re like natural firefighters!

What do Paper Birch Trees Look Like?

When a young tree, the paper birch is rather difficult to distinguish from other species of birch. When the tree is younger than 5 years old, its bark is a reddish-brown color with white horizontal lenticels. Older trees will start to grow pale in color, and the bark will peel away in papery sheets.

The leaves of paper birch trees are smooth, dark green on the top side and lighter green on the bottom side of the leaf. The lower side also has pubescent hairs along the veins – which are fuzzy little hairs. They are ovate to the triangle in shape that meets in a pointed tip, the edge of the leaf is serrated with sharp teeth (ouchie). They turn a burning yellow in the fall.

The stems (or twig) of paper birch trees are red and hairy, and at the end of them, you will find conical leaf buds. The roots of paper birch trees occupy only the top 25 inches of soil and grow laterally and widely.

Why do Paper Birch Trees Peel their Bark?

As a paper birch tree ages, it will shed off its outer layers of bark, much like a snake sheds its skin as it grows. Another reason why paper birch trees peel is that that is another way in which they are able to photosynthesize. By peeling off the top layers of paper birch bark, it removes any lichen or moss, or other sun-blocking things that may inhibit its photosynthesis.

What Regions do Paper Birch Trees Grow in?

Like many types of birches, the paper birch is also confined to life in the colder microclimates of North America, but they are prevalent in many provinces and states. In Canada, they grow in every province except for Nunavut. In America, they grow all over New York, Washington, North Carolina, New Mexico, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.

When paper birch trees are found in eastern and central regions of North America, they’ll often be found growing alongside balsam firs, big-toothed aspens, all kinds of maples, yellow birches, and red spruce trees. In the most northern climates, like in Alaska, they’ll grow in their own stands of pure paper birches.

There are all in the USDA zone 6+, and even though these are the ideal conditions for paper birches, they still only live to be about 30-70 years old. That’s rather young considering that their sibling, the sweet birch, can live to be over 350 years old.

What are the Growing Conditions of Paper Birch Trees?

Paper birches can grow in many different kinds of soils. All the way from flat muskegs of boreal forests, to the steep and rocky outcrops of the mountains. However, they show the best and quickest growth when they’re in very well-drained and moist soil.

This variety of birch is completely intolerant to high humidity and high heat and will have an even shorter life in areas that experience drastic seasonal temperatures. They explode into life as soon as early spring comes around after remaining rather dormant through the winter months.

How do Paper Birch Trees Reproduce?

Paper birch trees are monoecious, meaning that they possess both male flowers and female flowers. The flowers themselves are barely recognizable as flowers because they are tiny clusters of stems with indistinct petals at the end. These are called catkins. The male catkin is pendulous (drooping) and the female catkins stand erect.

This makes paper birch trees self-pollinating, or wind-pollinated. The pollen blows out of the drooping male catkins and pollinates the female catkins. The paper birch tree matures in the fall and produces miniature winged seeds. They will usually fall from April to June.

A paper birch seed is so lightweight and such an efficient flyer, that they are able to travel to far places. With a lack of a hard shell, a birch seed is able to experience germination very quickly. The characteristics of their reproduction method are what makes them a pioneer species.

A tree of over 15 years old will start to start producing seeds, but its peak seed production age is anywhere between 40-70 years old. Seeing as they don’t usually grow to be that old, they don’t have all that many seed-producing years. Thankfully, many of their tiny seeds are able to successfully turn into seedlings, and then saplings.

How is Paper Birch Wood Used?

Traditionally, paper birch trees were used as writing material, and medicinally as well. Birch trees are responsible for the essential oil wintergreen, and the twigs and leaves of the paper birch can be used to make an herbal tea.

The wood of paper birch trees is very flammable due to its high oil content, and it makes for excellent firewood, even if the forest is completely drenched. The wood is also used to make pulpwood.

If you’ve been wondering about why the paper birch has been nicknamed canoe birch, that is because Native American people create a birch bark canoe out of the entire paper birch trunk.

What Animals Eat Paper Birch Foliage?

Paper birches are an extremely important source of food for many forest-dwelling creatures. All aspects of the paper birch are eaten by one species or another.

The paperbark is one of the only food sources that a moose will have access to during the long and harsh winter months. There are next to no nutrients in the bark, but they do have large quantities of lignin. Although it is difficult to digest, there is so much paper birch that it ends up being a semi-sustaining meal for the moose.

The seedlings are eaten by snowshoe hares, voles, redpolls, and chickadees. Beavers and porcupines prefer to feast on the inner bark, and grouse enjoy eating paper birch buds.


Are paper birch trees messy?

Seeing as paper birch trees are constantly shedding several layers of their papery sheets of bark, they may be considered as messy landscaping trees or as a tree for your garden.

Do paper birch trees grow fast?

Paper birch trees live fast and die young, as they say. They can grow anywhere from 0.5-1 meter in height per year, and reach their full size around the age of fifteen.

Why do paper birch trees peel?

Because they photosynthesize through their inner bark layers. This is how they are able to survive through the cold winters.

How long do paper birch trees live?

The life expectancy of paper birch trees is anywhere from 30-70 years old, depending on their growing conditions. If you observe the regions they grow in and why they grow there, you might observe their purpose as being essential to the reestablishment of a forest after a devastating forest fire occurs.

Can you prune a paper birch tree?

It is not advisable to prune paper birch trees at any time other than mid-summer. This is because any cut you make will start to ooze paper birch sap and be a disastrous mess.

If paper birches are in a landscaped setting, it is okay to prune any branches that seem to be wounded or sick, as that is detrimental to the overall health of the tree.

Why do paper birch trees flower after many years of growth?

All trees need to grow for a good handful over years before they are mature enough to reproduce. Some trees are able to produce seeds after only a couple of years, but paper birches take a good 15 years before they are sexually mature.

How tall do paper birch trees get?

A paper birch tree is a medium-sized tree, growing anywhere from 15-20 meters in height.

Why does my paper birch have yellow leaves?

If your paper birch tree has yellow leaves in the fall, the is simply due to the fact that it is of the deciduous variety, meaning that it will shed its leaves as soon as the colder season approaches.

If your paper birch tree has yellow leaves outside of the fall season, it may be because it is sick due to an attack from the bronze birch borer.

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Birch Birch


  • General description of the plant
    • Bereza Birch
    • Borozy Borozhavo
    • Dwarf birch
  • 9000

This family of trees is quite common in our latitudes. There are about 100 types of birches, each of which has its own characteristics - crown size, height and even bark color. But all these varieties can be easily identified within the same family - by the characteristic lines on the trunk bark.

Birch trees have long been used for decorative purposes, many parks and squares are decorated with them, and recently it has become fashionable to plant them in personal plots - next to a residential building or in a country cottage. Most often, birches are planted for decorative purposes - weeping, warty and dwarf. Each has its own unique feature.

General description of the plant

In the wild, these are broad-leaved plants, with leaves that fall in winter and striped trunk bark. For the most part, they are a tree, but sometimes they can grow in the form of a shrub. Plants are quite unpretentious, take root well on almost any soil and are highly resistant to frost.

Weeping birch

Most birches of this species grow to a height of 20-25 meters, and the crown, which sprouts falling shoots, is covered with oval-shaped leaves. The birch trunk has a pattern that is clearly visible even from a distance, which makes it especially attractive, especially during the flowering period. The pattern of the trunk is complemented by white, and the leaves become a particularly saturated color.

Weeping birch propagates by seeds that ripen in its catkins and, when ripe, crumble and germinate. As a rule, shoots eventually form a single-stem system, but sometimes it turns out something like a bush - 2.3 or more ears grow from the ground.

Weeping birch.

Warty birch

This plant is also very common, but it is somewhat smaller than weeping birch - no more than 25 m in height. The tree is distinguished by white, smooth bark and red, with a brown tint, the color of young growth, which is also dotted with growths similar to warts. Hence the name.

Most often, these plants are planted around park lawns and along alleys.

Warty birch.

Dwarf birch

This type of birch is the most versatile, because its small size allows it to be planted in almost any interior, even in small areas.

The most demanded species of such dwarfs is the Junga birch. It barely reaches 6 meters in height, and its thin branches, falling from the crown, reach the ground, which looks very impressive.

Dwarf birch, grows quite slowly and easily gets along with any trees, but it is undesirable to plant it with fruit crops. Birch will oppress them.

Dwarf birch.


In any conditions, birch can be propagated both by seed and shoots. In forests, seed reproduction is difficult due to the thick ground cover, therefore, the main reproduction occurs by overgrowth, and both types are observed in open areas.

Propagation in nature

The vitality of the plant allows it to start new shoots even after a fire, when only a burnt stump remains from the tree. And so, it can happen many times.

Seed propagation of birch, characteristic of open areas, comes from seeds produced during the pollination of female flowers. The female flowers of the catkins are fertilized by the male flowers that develop on the twigs of the crown. Earrings develop from the buds of a plant and, starting from the 10th year of a birch's life, bear fruit. They look like a small nut, lentil-shaped, with two membranes. Fruits are abundantly formed and ripen on a birch annually, during the summer months.

Seeds fall in two stages - about half of them fall in autumn, the rest in winter. At the same time, winter seeds, quite safely live until spring and getting into the ground, many germinate.

Artificial propagation

For ornamental purposes, birch is usually planted from seed. To harvest it, you need to wait for the seeds to ripen. The browning of the plant's earrings speaks of their maturity. Seed ripening occurs in late autumn, they are collected and stored in glass containers, until the moment of landing on the site. It should be borne in mind that such storage leads to a significant drop in the percentage of germinating seeds - in the spring, no more than a third of all collected will give shoots.

Planting proceeds as follows:

  • The seeds are placed on the ground and covered lightly;
  • Watering the landing site;
  • Cover the seed area with thin brushwood or straw;
  • Water regularly - directly through the cover;
  • After sprouts appear, the cover is carefully removed.

As the young growth of birch loves the shade, after removing the flooring, the shoots must be protected from direct sunlight with plank shields or in any other way. At the same time, the fence should not be airtight - the movement of air through it should be free.

Another way to grow birch from seed is to organize a small greenhouse. In early spring, the seeds are planted in the ground, and a shelter is organized around them. You can use a plastic film stretched over a wooden frame or any other similar structure. The main thing is that its height allows young shoots to grow freely, until the greenhouse can be removed. This moment comes when it gets warm enough and the risk of night frosts disappears.

Transplantation and care

Growing seedlings require constant care, up to the moment of transplanting to their designated place. It is recommended to transplant trees that have reached at least 7 years, because at an earlier age, they take root much worse and, as a result, the tree often gets sick later on.

Birch can be replanted in autumn and spring, but it is best in early spring. A tree transplanted in autumn is much more likely to take root poorly, and sometimes even die. In the spring, on the contrary, the probability of a successful transplant is maximum.

As already noted, birch is a plant not whimsical to the type of soil, so it can be planted not only on black soil, but also on sandy and even clay soils. For the best engraftment, it is still desirable to organize a slightly acidic humus top dressing at the planting site and pre-moisten the soil.

When transplanting a birch, care must be taken that its roots are transferred along with the soil in which it grew. The hole for planting should be thoroughly moistened and fertilized with a mixture of earth, sand and humus, after which the tree, without exposing its roots, should be placed in the landing site, sprinkled with earth and tamped. The root system should be sunk exactly to the depth at which it was before transplantation - no more, no less. This moment is very important, because it significantly affects the success of the transplant.

It is also important to choose the right landing site. Birch loves moisture very much - an adult tree consumes about 200 liters of water per day. In addition, young birch does not like direct sunlight. Therefore, the landing site should be quite humid, while at least slightly shaded.

Plant grafting

Ornamental gardening often uses trees that combine features of different species. Such plants are very interesting and most fully fulfill the tasks of landscape decoration. Such properties are achieved by grafting cuttings of another to a tree. In parks, you can often find a familiar tree with grafted birch cuttings. It looks pretty extravagant.

There are a lot of options for vaccinations and the same number of individual results. For example, if you graft branches in a certain way to an ordinary birch, you can achieve a dwarf effect - you get a Jungi birch, with a beautiful falling - weeping crown.

With the help of grafting, it is also possible to form a crown of any other desired shape, but it must be borne in mind that such trees are somewhat lower than ungrafted relatives.

In order not to harm the tree, vaccinations are carried out when the tree is actively producing sap. At this moment, its movement along the internal channels is as intense as possible, and this allows the grafted cutting to take root more easily and with minimal trauma to the tree.

Grafting is carried out as follows:

  • The shoot is determined, on the site of which the cutting will be grafted. An incision is made on it;
  • The grafted stalk is being prepared - its tip is cut off;
  • The cutting is inserted into the incision in the bark of the shoot and secured with special gardening material. If temporary frosts are possible, the vaccination site is insulated.

For grafting, it is best to choose a stalk that matches the diameter of the bud on which it is planned to be grafted. After the procedure, the tree is especially vulnerable for some time, therefore, until the cutting takes root - until about the end of July, it requires especially careful care. It is necessary to constantly monitor the condition of the plant and provide it with comfortable conditions - regular sufficient watering and, if necessary, protection from direct sunlight.

Once you have gained experience with cutting grafting, you will be able to create unique shapes as you like, since the procedure allows you to graft more than one cutting - 2, 3, 4 or more.

90,000 birch (photo) Types, planting and care, reproduction

Content ✓

  • ✓ Birch-description
  • ✓ Inflorescences
  • ✓ Useful properties
  • ✓ Birch birch
  • ✓ Useful birch
  • ✓ Birch planting
  • ✓ Birch: Care
  • ✓ Diseases and pests
  • ✓ Birch
  • Production ✓ Sowing seeds of birch
  • ✓ Birch trees in the garden-Birch trees-leaf enough trees up to 30-45-45 m tall or shrubs - from large to creeping. The root system, depending on the species, is superficial or deep-lying. The crown is attractively shaped, light and delicate, while quite dense.

    Birch bark (birch bark) bright white, yellowish, pinkish, reddish-brown, exfoliates in thin ribbons or patches. With age, on the lower part of the trunk, the bark corks, loses its decorative effect, becomes covered with deep cracks, and overgrows with lichen.

    Birch - description

    Birch belongs to small-leaved tree species, its leaves do not exceed 7 cm in length and 4 cm in width. The leaves are usually with developed petioles, the plates are round-rhombic or ovoid, finely serrated along the edge. Young leaves are pale green, sticky, emit a pleasant smell. In autumn, they turn golden yellow, in some species orange tones.


    Earring inflorescences

    Birches are monoecious plants, their flowers are very small, wind pollinated, collected in earring inflorescences. Men's earrings hang when blooming, women's - stick up or sideways. Birch trees bloom simultaneously with the blooming of leaves, the fruits ripen in summer. They are very small, with transparent membranous "wings", carried by the wind. A number of birch species are durable and can live up to 300 years.

    Useful properties

    Birches are used not only in ornamental gardening. These trees have valuable wood: solid, with a beautiful pattern. It is used for the production of furniture, including elite (Karelian birch) and high-quality plywood.

    Birch is used in the production of guitars and acoustic systems.

    Birches give essential oil, which is used in the perfumery and cosmetics industry. Preparations from the leaves, buds and bark of birches are used both in folk and official medicine.

    See also: Healing and beneficial properties of birch

    Spectacular appearance

    Birches are very decorative at any time of the year. Attention is attracted primarily by their light, often bright bark. A beautiful crown with thin, often weeping branches looks great even in winter: contrasting black against the background of snow or covered with thick frost that sparkles in the sun or turns white with lace in frosty dusk.

    In spring, birch trees twitch with the most delicate down of young light green foliage, against which men's earrings begin to turn golden a little later. In summer, these trees give an openwork, light shade, delight the ear with the rustle of the crown, and the sense of smell with the resinous smell of leaves. In ornamental gardening, several types of birches are widely used, some of which have cultural forms.


    The genus Birch ( Betula ) from the Birch family ( Betulaceae ) includes about 80 species distributed in cold and temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The scientific name is the ancient Roman name for this tree. Russian goes back to the Indo-European "light", "white" and, obviously, is given for the color of the bark.

    drooping birch

    drooping birch (Betula pendula) has the widest area of ​​distribution among species of the genus. It occurs almost throughout Europe, Siberia, enters China, the northern regions of Turkey and Iran. Naturalized in America and Australia.

    An important forest-forming species in temperate regions. Very unpretentious, suffers only from heat and marshy soils. This type of birch is well known to everyone, so it makes no sense to dwell on its description.


    It is much more interesting to get acquainted with the decorative forms of silver birch. A number of them have an unusual crown shape: Fastigiata (narrow, pyramidal), Tristis (weeping), Youngii (spreading crown of irregular shape with drooping weeping branches). Others stand out for their unusual foliage color: Aurea (golden yellow), Purpurea (dark cherry, almost black). And, finally, forms with dissected leaves unusual for birch are very effective: Dalecarlica, Gracilis, Laciniata.

    Ornamental varieties tend to be slower growing and smaller than the natural variety.


    Erman's birch, or stone birch ( Betula ermanii ), grows in the south of Siberia and the Russian Far East, Japan.

    This species is not as graceful as drooping birch. The branches are directed upwards, in adult trees the crown is spreading, without a hint of weeping. The leaves are larger, oval or ovoid in shape. The bark is brownish, there are varieties with snow-white, pinkish, copper-orange bark.

    Differs in unpretentiousness and winter hardiness. Shade-tolerant, but, like the previous species, does not like stagnant moisture.


    Black birch ( Betula nigra ) is widely distributed in nature in the eastern and central regions of the United States.

    Graceful tree with openwork crown. The bark is pinkish-brownish, peeling off in large pieces, which makes the trunk look somewhat sloppy. The leaves are larger than those of the drooping birch, oval or ovate-rhombic, with large teeth along the edge. This species is one of the most thermophilic in the genus. Able to tolerate excessive soil moisture, because in nature it often grows along river banks and in swamps. There are varieties with bright white bark.


    USEFUL BIRCH (В etula utilis) grows in the Himalayas. Fast growing, hardy species. There are varieties with bright white, pinkish, copper-orange bark.


    Birches are unpretentious, perfectly tolerate the climate of central Russia, and some species of more northern regions. Characterized by rapid growth. In the garden, these trees prefer a sunny or semi-shady position. They are undemanding to soils, but grow somewhat worse on too dense substrates.

    The best time for planting young (not older than 5-7 years) plants is early spring. Older specimens are transplanted in winter, while the roots should be surrounded by a lump of frozen soil. When planted in autumn, a large percentage of seedlings do not take root.

    The recommended distance between specimens in a group is 3-4 m, more if necessary. It is useful to add nutritious leafy soil to the planting hole.


    In early spring, right after the snow melts, it is useful to feed the trees with a solution of cow dung. Trunk circles of young plantings are kept free from weeds. Loosening should not be deep, since birches have many roots located in the upper soil horizon. It is useful to mulch the trunk circles with peat or wood chips with a layer of about 10 cm. As necessary, only dry branches are removed, it is best to do this in the spring, after pecking the buds.


    Birch trees are subject to a variety of pests that eat roots (May beetles and their larvae) and leaves (tubeworm beetles, nun silkworm caterpillars and Corydalis bucephalus). Insecticides are used as control measures. Cleaning and burning of autumn foliage, digging tree trunks in late autumn help.

    Of the diseases, the most dangerous are rust, tinder fungi that destroy wood. The latter are removed from the trunk, treating the damaged area with a fungicide. Spraying with fungicides helps against rust.


    Birch is propagated by seeds and grafting.

    Cuttings are usually unsuccessful. Decorative forms are propagated only by grafting. Some species produce root shoots that can be successfully used for vegetative propagation.


    When planting a birch, it is very important to ensure that the root collar is at ground level. Its slightest deepening will lead to diseases and subsequent death of the seedling.

    In the first months after planting, if the weather is dry and hot, young birch trees need watering.

    The seeds are harvested as the catkins mature (brown). Freshly harvested seeds have excellent germination (up to 90%), which deteriorates rapidly as it is stored under normal conditions.

    To prevent this from happening, it is recommended to dry the seeds immediately after collection in a room with low air humidity (no more than 15%). Then they are packed in polyethylene or thick paper bags and stored in a refrigerator or a dry cold room. Under such conditions, germination persists for 1-2 years.


    Sowing is carried out in late autumn or early spring. Seeds are evenly distributed over the surface of the moistened substrate, sprinkled with a thin layer of humus, sand, peat or small sawdust. Crops are recommended to be covered from direct sunlight, the substrate must remain moist.

    Seedlings require good sunlight, so crops should be kept free from weeds. It is very important that the soil does not dry out.

    As soon as the young plants reach a height of 5 cm or more, they can be transplanted into a school. From this point on, the seedlings become much more unpretentious.


    Most birches and their ornamental forms overwinter without shelter. Nevertheless, in specimens planted 1-2 years ago, it is recommended to cover tree trunks with peat, sawdust, shavings for the winter.

    See also: Prepare and tie birch brooms for a bath - how and when


    They are used to create bright alleys, beautiful groups against the backdrop of a lawn or pond. Solitary trees are also good: not far from the gate or the entrance to the house, near the pond, and also against the backdrop of a flat lawn. Birches go well with other deciduous trees and large shrubs: oaks, lindens, maples, mountain ash, willow, bird cherry. They are also good in the neighborhood with conifers, especially with dark green and blue rocks.

    Medium-sized birches look great in rock gardens, wonderfully combined with plantings of spring herbaceous and bulbous plants: lungwort, periwinkles, primroses, anemones, blueberries, daffodils, etc.

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