Paper Birch - Betula papyrifera
Also known as White Birch, this striking tree is easily recognizable by the large, peeling sheets of bark on mature specimens. Natives originally used the pliable bark to make canoes, baskets, or for waterproofing wigwams. The bark does not decompose quickly, so you will often see large strips of bark remaining on top of a nearly decomposed log!
The Paper Birch is distinguished from many similar birches by large sized oval leaves. Leaves are fairly oval with short stalks and are coarsely double-toothed. Similar to most birches, the underleaf is paler green.
The bark of Paper Birch saplings is a dark reddish brown, while the bark of more mature trees becomes whiter and starts to peel. However, the bark color of Paper birch is variable; some trees retain darker reddish colors and unpeeling bark even at maturity.
Male flowers in long dangling catkins
Male flower buds at twig tips.
Ontario Tree Atlas map of non-planted Paper Birch. 1995-1999.
Farrar, J.L.. 1995. Trees in Canada. Fitzhenry & Whiteside Ltd. Toronto. ON. 504 pp.
Kershaw, L. 2001. Trees in Ontario: Including tall shrubs. Lone Pine Publishing. Edmonton. AB. 240 pp
Muma, W. 2011. Ontario Trees and Shrubs. [Online] Available: www.ontariotrees.com
OMNR, 2011. Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources: Ontario Tree Atlas. [Online] Available: http://www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/ClimateChange/2ColumnSubPage/267027.html
OMNR, 2008. Ontario’s Biodiversity: Species at Risk.