Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.
Betula populifolia Marshall
Gray Birch, White Birch, Aspen-leaved Birch
Betulaceae (Birch Family)
USDA Symbol: BEPO
USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)
Gray Birch is a narrow, columnar, single- or multi-trunked tree, 35-50 ft. Small, bushy tree with open, conical crown of short slender branches reaching nearly to the ground; more often a clump of several slightly leaning trunks from an old stump. The white, non-peeling bark becomes darker with age. Dark-green leaves turn yellow in fall.
A pioneer tree on clearings, abandoned farms, and burned areas, Gray Birch grows rapidly but is short-lived. A nurse tree, it shades and protects seedlings of the larger, long-lived forest trees. The wood is used for spools and other turned articles and for firewood. Its trunks are so flexible that when weighted with snow, the upper branches may bend to the ground without breaking. The long-stalked leaves dance in the slightest breeze.
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
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 50 feet tall, often shorter.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Green , Brown
Bloom Time: Apr
DistributionUSA: CT , DE , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , VA , VT , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Maritime provinces to NJ & VA, scattered w. to n.e. IL
Native Habitat: Wet to dry woods; lake margins; old fields
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Drought Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Wet to dry, poor soils.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Songbirds, ground birds and mammals
Larval Host: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail |
Learn more at BAMONA
National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Natural Biodiversity - Johnstown, PA
BibliographyBibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Search More Titles in Bibliography
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Betula populifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Betula populifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Betula populifolia
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-03-09
Research By: TWC Staff