Module 1: Introduction to Silviculture

Silvics of Grey Birch

(Betula populifolia Marsh.)

Common names:
- wire birch, white birch

Field identification aids:
- triangular leaves
- warty, wire-like twigs
- tight, non-peeling, greyish bark

Average mature tree:
- 30 to 50 years old
- 6 m to 11 m (20' to 35') tall
- 8 cm to 12 cm (3" to 5") in diameter at breast height

Shade tolerance:
- intolerant

- shallow laterals, no tap root produced

- reproduces by seed or stump sprouting
- full seed crop production after 30 years, good seed crop every year
- best germination occurs on moist, mineral soil

Growing sites:
- range from dry to poorly-drained, best growth on well-drained sites
- usually found on recent clearcuts, burnt areas, and old fields

Associated species:
- alders and larch on poorly drained sites
- white birch, pin cherry and aspen on well drained sites
- often grows with red spruce
- occasionally found in pure stands

Principal damaging agents:
- nectria canker, birch leaf skeletonizer, birch sawfly, bronze birch borer

- not a commercial species, but can be used for fuelwood

Quick ID:
Grey birch has black, triangular markings where branches join the trunk


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