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Betula alleghaniensis (Yellow birch)
Brundage, Stephanie

Betula alleghaniensis

Betula alleghaniensis Britton

Yellow Birch

Betulaceae (Birch Family)


USDA Symbol: BEAL2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

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.


From the Image Gallery

17 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Tree
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Venation: Pinnate
Breeding System: Flowers Unisexual , Monoecious
Fruit Type: Samara
Size Notes: Up to about 100 feet tall.
Leaf: Green.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Green to tan.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow , Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: CT , DE , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Nf., s. in mts. to GA, w. to Man. & n.e. IA
Native Habitat: Cool, moist woods

Growing Conditions

Water 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.


Attracts: Birds


Description: 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 Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA

Additional resources

USDA: Find Betula alleghaniensis in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Betula alleghaniensis in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Betula alleghaniensis


Record Modified: 2021-03-18
Research By: TWC Staff

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