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BETULA alleghaniensis

Image of Betula alleghaniensis

James H. Schutte

Family

Betulaceae

Botanical Name

BETULA alleghaniensis

Plant Common Name

Yellow Birch

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

A metallic amber-brown bark that peels away is the all-season highlight of the yellow birch. This deciduous tree is dense and cone-shaped in its youth, eventually maturing with a rounded to irregular habit after three decades. Yellow birch is native to the cool, moist soils of eastern North America.

The dull, dark green leaves are pointed ovals with fine teeth on the margins. Leaf undersides are a lighter shade. In early spring, just as leaves emerge, catkins don the branches. Male catkins are yellow-brown and pendulous, while the female types are less showy. Pollinated by the wind, female catkins produce nutlets later in summer. In autumn, this birch's foliage turns bright yellow. Breaking a twig and crushing it releases a pleasant wintergreen aroma; the crushed twig tastes bitter (unlike a sweet taste indicative of the sweet birch, Betula lenta).

Grow the yellow birch in full to partial sun. Any moderately fertile, non-alkaline soil suffices. Avoid bone dry and overly wet ground. Keep the root zone mulched to ensure a moist, cool soil during the summertime. This tree excels where summers aren't too warm and droughts are never severe. Yellow birch is excellent in a sheltered woodland garden setting or as a shade tree (it casts light to medium shade at most). It's also relatively resistant to attacks of leaf miner and bronze birch borer.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    7 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    4 - 7

  • Sunset Zone

    A3, 1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 14, 15, 16

  • Plant Type

    Tree

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    55'-80' / 16.8m - 24.4m

  • Width

    25'-30' / 7.6m - 9.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Spring

  • Native To

    Northeastern United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, North-Central United States, Central United States, Canada

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Pyramidal

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Light Yellow, Light Green

  • Fruit Color

    Bronze, Sandy Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow

  • Bark Color

    Yellow, Tan, Silver

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Shade Trees

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No