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Yellow Birch leaves


Yellow Birch bark

Betula alleghaniensis

Common Name: Yellow Birch
Family: Betulaceae


Description: A tree with yellow to grey bark and showy drooping male flowers. When the leaves and young branches are crushed they produce a strong wintergreen scent. 
Leaves: 
The leaves are elliptical in shape and have doubly toothed margins. They are green on top and yellowish on the underside.
Flowers:
The male flowers are small yellow flowers found in a drooping cluster on the edge of branches. While, the female flowers are green and more upright. They are wind pollinated.
Seeds: 
A brown winged nutlet.
Stem: The mature bark is shiny yellow to silver grey. It shreds into horizontal paper strips. The young twigs are hairy and greenish brown.
Branching Pattern:
 Alternate 
Height: up to 100 feet tall
Conditions/Habitat/Kind of Forest: Grows best in well drained soil. It is also partially shade tolerant. It is typically found along marsh lands, floodplains and wooded swamps.
Known Wildlife Interactions: The bark and wood are food for porcupines and beavers. While, chipmunks eat the seeds and whitetail deer eat the twigs and foliage. A variety of larger birds such as wild turkeys, herons and pheasants eat the seeds.
Range: North-eastern North America from Newfoundland and south to Virginia and Tennessee.
Conservation Status-US/ World Wide: Not threatened in the U.S. or globally.
Uses (Human): The bark is waterproof and was used by Native Americans as the outer lining on canoes and as roofing materials. The wood is heavy and very strong. It can be used to make furniture, floors and boxes. Another common use of yellow birch is as fire wood. The sap also gives off a pleasant wintergreen scent.

References:

Plants for a Future.  June 2004.  Accessed: April 18, 2006.  <http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Polygonum+sagittatum>

The Pennsylvania Flora Project.  Botany Department, Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania.  Accessed:  April 18, 2006. <http://www.paflora.org>

Chadde, Steve W. A Great Lakes Wetland Flora. Pocketflora Press. 2002. pg146

Redington, Charles B. Plants in Wetlands. Redington Field Guides.1994. pg. 76 

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species <http://www.iucnredlist.org>

This page was created by: A. Coiro, Muhlenberg College
Photos by: L. Rosenberg, edited by N. Smith
Last updated 04/25/06