Appreciated for its distinctive bark and the golden color of its fall foliage, the Paper Birch tree provides excellent contrast for any landscape. It is the state tree of New Hampshire.
The Paper Birch offers year-round beauty, with smooth white bark, brilliant yellow fall leaves, and stately grace against the winter sky. Does best in full sun, well-drained, acid, moist, sandy, or silty loam soils. Grows 50' to 70', 35' spread. (zones 2-7)
Wintering moose find the sheer abundance of paper birch in young stands important, despite it's poor nutritional quality. White-tailed deer eat considerable amounts of paper birch leaves in the fall.
Snowshoe hare browse paper birch seedlings and saplings, beaver find it a good second choice food and porcupines feed on the inner bark.
Voles and shrews join with Redpolls, siskins, and chickadees eating paper birch seeds.
Numerous cavity-nesting birds nest in paper birch, including woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and swallows.
Pecking holes in the bark, the yellow-bellied sapsucker finds the paper birch a favorite tree. Hummingbirds and red squirrels then feed at sapwells created by sapsuckers.
Ruffed grouse eat the catkins (flowers) and buds.
The Paper Birch tree is steeped in the romance of the north woods, most notably for the use of its bark in canoe construction, as a fire-starter, and as a bearer of messages. Most recent uses include products that require a hard, close-grained wood that does not splinter easily. At one time people would peel layers of the thin, paper-like bark and write messages on it, thus the name Paper Birch.
This tree thrives with normal moisture, but has some drought tolerance.
The leaves are about 2 to 4 inches long and borne on leaf stem about 1 inch long. Margins are double-toothed and leaves are arranged alternately. Leaves are medium green in summer to bright yellow in fall.
Flowers are brown or green.
The flowers bloom in April to May..
The fruit is elongated, 1 to 3 inches, brown, attractive to wildlife.