Silvics of White Birch

(Betula papyrifera Marsh.)

Common names:
- paper birch, canoe birch, silver birch

Field identification aids:
- very few branches below the crown on a mature tree
- leaves are smooth and dark green above paler and slightly hairy below

Average mature tree:
- 60 to 70 years old
- 15 m to 21 m (50' to 70") tall
- 25 cm to 60 cm (10" to 24") in diameter at breast height

Maximum life span:
- 60-75 years

Shade tolerance:
- intolerant

- deep, spreading lateral roots

- only moderately windfirm

- reproduces by seed or stump sprouting
- tree may begin to produce seed when 15 years old, with full crop production after 40 to 70 years
- generally a good seed crop is produced every year
- best seed bed is moist mineral soil

Growing sites:
- range from moderately-drained to dry sites
- best growth on well-drained, sandy loam

Associated species:
- aspen, pin cherry and grey birch on recent clearcuts and burned sites
- occasionally grows in pure stands

Principal Damaging Agents:
- nectria canker, birch leaf skeletonizer, birch sawfly, bronze birch borer
- birch dieback causes some mortality

- white birch comprises 2.8% of the
merchantable volume in Nova Scotia
- tree can be damaged or killed if the bark is peeled off
- fast growing, short-lived tree
- used for turning, pulpwood, and fuelwood

Quick ID:
White birch has white bark that peels off easily


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