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Betula alleghaniensis Britton
USDA Symbol: BEAL2
Yellow birch grows larger than other eastern birches. Open-grown specimens develop a massive candelabra form, while forest trees are tall and slender. The name comes from the curly, translucent, golden-yellow bark, streaked with gray and brown. Showy catkins appear just before leaf emergence. Leaves are dull green above and yellow underneath, changing to blaze yellow in fall. Bark on young stems, branches and trunk peels in thin, papery shreds. Large, aromatic tree with broad, rounded crown of drooping branches and slight odor of wintergreen in crushed twigs and foliage. Grows to 100 ft. but 50 ft. is far more typical.
One of the most valuable birches and one of the largest hardwoods in northeastern North America. Yellow Birch when fairly mature is easily recognized by its distinctive bark. Young specimens, which may be mistaken for Sweet Birch (Betula lenta), are most readily identified by their hairy twigs and buds and most persistently hairy leaves with mostly unbranched side veins.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Tree Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf:
Green Autumn Foliage:
Green to tan Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May
, WV Canada: NB
, QC Native Distribution:
Nf., s. in mts. to GA,
w. to Man. & n.e. IA Native Habitat:
Cool, moist woods
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist , Wet CaCO3 Tolerance:
Low Soil Description:
Cool, moist soils. Conditions Comments:
Like all birches, this species is troubled by a number of insect, disease, and physiological problems. Bronze birch borer is especially troublesome if the plant is not in cool, moist soil. Do not prune until summer when the sap
has stopped flowing. Does not perform well in hot, dry climates. Very long-lived for a birch, often reaching beyond 100 years. Trees planted in grove fashion form a pleasing, natural effect.
PropagationDescription: Sow seed as soon as ripe. Germination is facilitated by exposure to light; never plant too deeply.
Seed Collection: Birch seed is collected by picking the catkins while they are still green enough to hold together. They shatter easily and should be put directly into bags.
Seed Treatment: One month cold stratification compensates for light treatment.
Commercially Avail: yes
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Suppliers Directory
According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:
American Native Nursery
- Quakertown, PA
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
- Johnstown, PA
Record Last Modified: 2014-04-03
Research By: TWC Staff