Paper Birch


(Betula papyrifera)

Paper birch is a medium sized tree native to every region in Canada and most northern US states; widely used for landscaping parks, estates, and residential areas. The bark provides nice winter interest, vibrant fall colour, and the tree tolerates a variety of soil types. Paper birch does, however, need adequate moisture and sunlight in order to survive and thrive.

Leaves are ovate to triangular with a pointed tips and double-toothed margins. The upper surface is dull green, lighter and slightly hairy on the bottom. Leaves turn pale yellow in the fall.

Twigs are dark red to near black; mature bark is smooth, peeling off in horizontal strips. older tree bark has black fissures at the base of the trunk. Though usually white, bark colour can be reddish brown depending on the tree's climatic location. Female seed catkins are erect at branch tips and male catkins are longer, hanging down in clusters. Seeds shed from September onward.

The wood is useful for a variety of applications from furniture to plywood; uniformly grained, hard, and machines well but isn't rot resistant. The bark has traditionally been used by natives to make canoes. Seeds, buds, and leaves are widely used as a winter food source by various wildlife.


British Columbia. (n.d.). Paper birch. Retrieved from

Natural Resources Canada. (2015). White birch. Retrieved from

Tree Atlas - Ontario. (2020). Retrieved from

Tree Canada. (n.d.). Saskatchewan — White birch. Retrieved from