Betula alleghaniensis Britton
Common Name: YELLOW BIRCH
Coefficient of Conservatism: 7
Coefficient of Wetness: 0
Wetness Index: FAC
Physiognomy: Nt Tree

Betula alleghaniensis in fruit L. Wallis in fruit

In a diversity of habitats, from lowland hardwoods, especially in the southern part of the state, to hemlock-white pine-northern hardwoods forest of the north, becoming especially common in the western Upper Peninsula. As is true of the other birches, the pistillate scales and bark of B. alleghaniensis are variable. Very old trees, as in virgin stands in the Upper Peninsula, may have very furrowed or checkered dark bark. Trees in swamps of the southern Lower Peninsula may have dark brown or blackish bark, which peels very little if at all; such trees hardly resemble the widespread typical yellow birch with light yellow-brown, peeling bark, and have sometimes been erroneously referred to B. lenta (which differs in having smaller, nearly or quite glabrous and less densely ciliate scales in the pistillate aments). Betula lenta and B. alleghaniensis both have a characteristic odor and flavor of wintergreen in the crushed bark of young twigs. Betula nigra, river birch, lacks the wintergreen flavor and has leaves pale beneath with margins both toothed and undulate or shallowly lobed; the fruit ripens in late spring or early summer, with wings narrower than the body; the bark is pinkish, curly and tattered-looking, and the number of leaf veins is less than in B. alleghaniensis. Betula nigra grows in wet places and is known in northwestern Indiana; it should be sought in southern Michigan, where it is sometimes planted but seems never to spread.

The leaves on short lateral shoots are usually in pairs, whereas in B. papyrifera they are usually in 3’s. However, hybrids with B. papyrifera may be less rare than usually supposed; they have short shoots with both 3 and 2 leaves per shoot. Hybrids with B. pumila are described under that species. The wood of yellow birch is one of the most valuable timbers in Michigan. It is strong and close-grained, polishes well, and is of special importance in furniture and veneers.

Locations

Alcona County
Alger County
Alpena County
Antrim County
Arenac County
Baraga County
Barry County
Bay County
Benzie County
Berrien County
Branch County
Calhoun County
Cass County
Charlevoix County
    Including Beaver Island
Cheboygan County
Chippewa County
    Including Drummond Island
Clinton County
Crawford County
Delta County
Emmet County
Genesee County
Gladwin County
Gogebic County
Grand Traverse County
Gratiot County
Hillsdale County
Houghton County
Huron County
Ingham County
Iosco County
Iron County
Isabella County
Jackson County
Kalamazoo County
Kalkaska County
Kent County
Keweenaw County
    Including Isle Royale
Lapeer County
Leelanau County
    Including Fox Islands
    Including Manitou Islands
Lenawee County
Livingston County
Luce County
Mackinac County
    Only on Bois Blanc, Mackinac, Round Islands
Macomb County
Manistee County
Marquette County
Mason County
Mecosta County
Menominee County
Midland County
Missaukee County
Montcalm County
Muskegon County
Newaygo County
Oakland County
Oceana County
Ontonagon County
Osceola County
Oscoda County
Otsego County
Ottawa County
Presque Isle County
Saginaw County
Sanilac County
Schoolcraft County
Shiawassee County
St. Clair County
St. Joseph County
Tuscola County
Van Buren County
Washtenaw County
Wayne County
Wexford County

Citation:

MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. December 14, 2017. http://michiganflora.net/species.aspx?id=550.