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Yellow Birch Betula alleghaniensis


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Yellow Birch, leaves and bark
credit: Lin%C3%A91/CCSA

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Family: Betulaceae, Birch view all from this family

Description Betula alleghaniensis (Yellow Birch), is native to eastern North America, from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, southern Quebec and Ontario, and the southeast corner of Manitoba in Canada, west to Minnesota, and south in the Appalachian Mountains to northern Georgia.

It is a medium-sized deciduous tree reaching 20 m tall (exceptionally to 30 m) with a trunk up to 80 cm diameter. The bark is smooth, yellow-bronze, flaking in fine horizontal strips, and often with small black marks and scars. The twigs, when scraped, have a slight scent of oil of wintergreen, though not as strongly so as the related Sweet Birch. The leaves are alternate, ovate, 6-12 cm long and 4-9 cm broad, with a finely serrated margin. The flowers are wind-pollinated catkins 3-6 cm long, the male catkins pendulous, the female catkins erect. The fruit, mature in fall, is composed of numerous tiny winged seeds packed between the catkin bracts.

Betula alleghaniensis is the provincial tree of Quebec.

The name "yellow birch" reflects the color of the tree's bark. Most wood sold as birch in North America is from this tree. Several species of Lepidoptera use the species as a food plant for their caterpillars.

Habitat Canyons & valleys, Mountains.

Range Southeast, New England, Great Lakes, Plains, Mid-Atlantic, Eastern Canada.