Paper Birch


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British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide
Paperbir.Jpg
PAPER BIRCH
betula papyrifera
  • The Paper Birch is also known as Canoe Birch, Silver Birch, White Birch
  • 'papyrifera' means "paper bearing" and refers to the bark

UNIQUE FEATURES:

  • Paper Birch is a small to medium sized tree, with many stems
  • Paper Birch bark peels off in paper strips
  • trees in the forest have a narrow, oval shaped crown above a slender trunk
  • the crown is pyramid shaped when the trees are found in the open
  • in dense stands the lower trunk is largely branch free so can produce large strips of bark
  • Paper Birch is winter food for many animals and a nesting site for a number of birds
  • Paper Birch can readily sprout from cut parts

LOCATION:

  • Paper Birch is found throughout BC
  • but, not on the west coast islands or right on the coastline
  • Paper Birch occurs in uplands, floodplain sites, avalanche tracks, swamp edges, bogs
  • Paper Birch can grow in a variety of soils

SIZE:

  • up to 30 metres tall

FRUIT:

  • nutlets with wings broader than the seed body

FLOWERS:

  • narrow catkins; female 2 to 4 cm and stand erect at the branch tip; male are longer and hang below the branch
  • appear at the time of or before the leaves
  • break up after maturity

LEAVES:

  • egg-shaped, sharp pointed tip
  • double-toothed edges
  • dull green, smooth to hairy with a paler underside with a downy texture

BARK:

  • thin, white to reddish-brown or copper
  • smooth, marked with brown horizontal slits or lines
  • the reddish-orange inner bark is exposed when the bark is peeled off, gradually turning black

USES:

  • modern - pulp, sawlogs, veneer logs, paneling, tongue depressors, cheese boxes, firewood; birch sap: vinegar or birch beer
  • traditional - bark: baskets, cradles, canoes, wrapping and storing food, roofing pit houses, snow goggles, moose calls, toboggans; wood: eating utensils and dishes; sap: medicine for colds

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Paper Birch