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Native or Introduced to Illinois: native
Leaf: Alternate, simple, pinnately-veined, ovate in shape, with coarsely doubly serrate margins, an acute tip and rounded base.
Flower: Preformed aments, male near the end of the twig in 2's or 3's, 3/4 to 1 1/4 inches long. Female flowers are upright, 1 to 1 1/4 inches long. Flowers April to June.
Fruit: Cone like, cylindrical 1 to 1 1/2 inches long, deciduous at maturity, releasing elliptical 2-winged nutlets. Matures in the autumn, disperses over winter.
Twig: Slender, dull red-brown, lacking wintergreen smell when cut. Terminal bud absent, lateral buds are gummy, chestnut brown in color. Spur shoots present on older growth.
Bark: Smooth, thin, chalky-to-creamy white; peeling in horizontal papery strips. Brown to black and furrowed at base. Orange inner bark.
Size/Form/Shape: A medium-sized tree with a pyramidal or irregular crown.
Economic: White birch wood is used commercially for pulpwood, plywood, veneer, and turnery. Tree chips are used for paper manufacture and fuel.Medicinal: A decoction has been used to treat dysentery, various diseases of the blood, induce sweating, and to ensure an adequate supply of milk in nursing mothers. Birch gum could have been medicinal for some stone-age gathers. The chewable gum contains zylitol, a disinfectant, and some terpenes, which could give the chewier a mild buzz.
Landscaping & Wildlife: Betula papyrifera is commonly used as a landscape tree for itís striking coloration. It is a desirable ornamental to be planted around homes and public buildings, in parks, and on campuses. Moose, snowshoe hare, and white-tailed deer browse paper birch. Numerous birds and small mammals eat the buds, catkins, and seeds.
Agroforestry: White birch is used in forested riparian buffers to help reduce stream bank erosion, protect aquatic environments, enhance wildlife, and increase biodiversity.
County Distribution Map for Illinois:
Sources for the Sullivan Middle School Tree Identification Guide were obtained though the use of the following sites:
- Illinois Plant Information Network (ILPIN) @ http://www.fs.fed.us/ne/delaware/ilpin/ilpin.html#Background
- List of Woody Plants Native or Naturalized in Illinois @ http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~kenr/woody.html
- Tree Species @ http://ostermiller.org/tree/species.html
- Index to Eastern/Central Trees @ http://www.arborday.org/trees/ECtreelist.html
- ISU Forestry Extension Identification of Common Trees of Iowa @ http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Pages/tree/
- Key to Leaves of Virginia Trees @ http://www.fw.vt.edu/dendro/forsite/key/intro.htm
- List of Native Trees for Use Along Roadsides in Illinois @ http://www.inhs.uiuc.edu/~kenr/treetable.html
- The PLANTS Database @ http://plants.usda.gov/
The information below is from the National Arbor Day Foundation. This information can be viewed in the original (source) form by visiting The National Arbor Day Foundation at http://www.arborday.org.
Sun Exposure: This birch does well in full sun or partial shade.
Soil Type: The Paper Birch grows in acidic, loamy, moist, clay, sandy, well-drained soils.
Moisture: This tree thrives with normal moisture, but has some drought tolerance.
Growth Rate: This tree grows at a medium to fast growth rate.
Hardiness Zones: 2 - 7
This birch can be expected to grow in the zones shown in color in the arborday.org zone map.