The paper birch is a very visually pleasing tree, with chalky white bark and rich golden leaves in the fall. The tree’s bark peels easily into papery sheets, exposing the orange-brown inner bark. Black marks are also easily visible where branches meet the trunk of the tree. The leaves are tear drop shaped and toothed. This tree attracts game birds, insect pollinators, sapsuckers, small mammals, and songbirds.
Family: Betulaceae (Birch)
Characteristics:. The 2-4 inch long leaves are ovate, toothed, and dark green. In the fall, leaves turn to a rich yellow color. Flowers appear as long, droopy, yellow-brown male catkins, or smaller, green, upright female catkins. Bark is smooth, chalky white, and easily exfoliates into papery sheets, exposing the orange-brown inner bark. Black marks are easily visible where branches connect to the truck. This tree has a loose pyramidal shape when young and becomes oval-rounded with age. It grows 50-70 feet high and 25-45 feet wide.
Foliage: Deciduous (leaves lost seasonally)
Geographic Origin: North America (native)
Cultivation Notes: Requires high maintenance. Does best in full sun. Prefers acidic, consistently moist, and well-drained soils. This tree grows best best in Northern climates, since it often becomes stressed in hot conditions.
Number on Campus: 4
Sources: Dirr, Morton Arboretum, Missouri Botanical Garden