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Facts about Paper Birch Tree

Facts about Paper Birch Tree

Birch trees are of many varieties, paper birch being one of them. What gives it this name is its bark that grows white and papery with age. This Gardenerdy article gives you some interesting facts about paper birch tree, a multipurpose tree you must have in your backyard.
Shalu Bhatti
Last Updated: Dec 10, 2017
I'd like to go by climbing a birch tree,
And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk
Toward heaven, till the tree could bear no more,
But dipped its top and set me down again.
That would be good both going and coming back.
One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.

― Robert Frost, Birches
The paper birch tree is also known as the American White Birch or the Canoe Birch. Its scientific name is Betula Papyrifera, and it belongs to the family of Betulaceae. Before we go on with knowing more about this tree, let's have a look at the table given below which shows the scientific facts and classification of the paper birch.

Scientific Facts
Family: Betulaceae
Genus: Betula
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Fagales
Class: Magnoliopsida
Division: Magnoliophyta

Interesting Facts and Information

As mentioned earlier, there are many kinds of trees belonging to the birch family. The types of birch trees include - The Crimson Frost Birch, Silver Birch, Himalayan Birch, River Birch, and so on. The following points will give you some useful information on the Canoe birch, the species we would focus on in this article.
  • It is mainly found in Canada, northern parts of the United States, south-central to interior Alaska, and so on. You will also find their growth in many areas of Washington as well as Pennsylvania.
  • Its size varies from tall to medium in height, with an average height of 20 meters. However, the tallest paper birch tree is said to be in North Dakota which is 61 feet tall and its canopy is spread over 40 feet!
  • The leaves are oval in shape and are very sharp and pointed. The surface of the leaf is very smooth, like leather, and has about 3 to 7 sidelong veins.
  • The length of the leaf is about 2 to 3 inches and the width is about 1 to 2½ inches. The leaves are dark green in color (top surface) and the portion below is dull green in color. During fall, the leaves turn yellow in color.
  • Did you know that the bark of this tree is reddish brown when the tree is young? As it grows old, the bark turns papery white and peels off like a paper. This is why this tree is named as the paper birch tree.
  • The paper or canoe birch is the state tree of New Hampshire.
  • This tree is also the provincial tree of Saskatchewan.
  • This tree is one of the most sought after when it comes to landscaping and gardening. However, it must be noted that this tree should never be planted with black walnut as the chemical released from the roots of black walnut proves to be toxic for paper birch roots that are superficial and shallow.
  • It grows well in sandy, loamy, and moist soils by the river and cannot tolerate dryness. However, it does require full sunlight.
Uses of Paper Birch Tree

This tree is not only a beauty to look at, but it is also beneficial in a lot many ways. It won't be wrong to say that it is a gift of mother nature to the creatures of the world. How? Just go through the following points and find out.
  • Forget about its uses to us humans! When speaking in terms of nature and wildlife, this tree provides food to more than thirty kinds of mammals and birds overall! One good reason to conserve it, isn't it?
  • Its bark was used as a writing base by the Native Americans in the olden times. They also used it for making canoes, dwellings, and utensils. Although, now with time, the uses have changed and the bark is now used to form a waterproof layer for sod-roofed houses.
  • The wood of the paper birch is excellent for starting fire and can burn even when wet in high temperatures.
  • Its extracts help in controlling insects and pests.
  • It also has many medicinal uses. Its extracts can help in dealing with diseases such as gout, cold and cough, pulmonary diseases, and even rheumatism. Not only this, it is also an effective laxative, helpful in the treatment of burns and wounds, and it is also playing a vital role in cancer research!
  • Its wood is used for making furniture, toothpicks, etc. Its sap proves to be helpful in treating leather.
The facts and uses listed above help us realize that not only is this tree beautiful enough to be a choice of all the landscapers, but its uses too, are equally important. Overall, this beautiful tree is truly a gift of nature to mankind, no wonder it has managed to get the honor of being the provincial tree of Saskatchewan and the state tree of New Hampshire!
Did you know that this tree can live for more than a hundred years? Imagine the stories it could tell us if only it could communicate! Anyway, curious human instinct will find a way to do that too, someday.