Betula papyrifera Marshall
Coefficient of Conservatism: 2
Coefficient of Wetness: 3
Wetness Index: FACU
Physiognomy: Nt Tree

Betula papyrifera bark A. A. Reznicek bark

Widespread in a diversity of habitats; especially characteristic after fire or other disturbance, when seedlings are often abundant. Frequently on dunes and associated with aspen on upland sites, but also in swamps. Usually a relatively short-lived successional tree, growing in attractive clumps from stump sprouts that follow fire. Old trees may persist in the forest, as large as 0.6–1.2 m in diameter, with rough bark.

This is a familiar and handsome tree, long famed as the source of birch bark used by Native Americans to construct canoes and other objects. White birch is extremely variable in leaf glandularity and shape and in size, shape, and pubescence of the pistillate scales. Even the bark can be variable, being rich reddish brown on young trunks and even on some older ones being dark or pinkish rather than the usual chalky white.

Plants variously referred to B. cordifolia Regel or B. papyrifera var. cordifolia (Regel) Fernald have been regularly reported from Michigan. Betula cordifolia is evidently a northern diploid element (2n = 28 or rarely 56) in contrast to typical B. papyrifera (2n = 70 or 84 or rarely 56). It may be that some trees from northern Michigan are the diploid, but all material we have seen seems to fit best within the variable B. papyrifera.

Hybrids with B. pumila are rather frequent and are discussed under that species.


Alcona County
Alger County
Allegan County
Alpena County
Antrim County
Arenac County
Baraga County
Barry County
Benzie County
Berrien County
Charlevoix County
    Including Beaver Island
Cheboygan County
Chippewa County
    Including Drummond Island
Clare County
Clinton County
Crawford County
Delta County
Dickinson County
Emmet 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
Kalkaska County
Kent County
Keweenaw County
    Including Isle Royale
Lake County
Lapeer County
Leelanau County
    Including Fox Islands
    Including Manitou Islands
Lenawee County
Livingston County
Luce County
Mackinac County
    Including Bois Blanc, Mackinac, Round Islands
Macomb County
Manistee County
Marquette County
Mason County
Mecosta County
Menominee County
Midland County
Missaukee County
Montcalm County
Montmorency County
Muskegon County
Newaygo County
Oakland County
Oceana County
Ogemaw County
Ontonagon County
Osceola County
Oscoda County
Otsego County
Ottawa County
Presque Isle County
Roscommon County
Saginaw County
Sanilac County
Schoolcraft County
Shiawassee County
St. Clair County
Tuscola County
Washtenaw County
Wayne County


MICHIGAN FLORA ONLINE. A. A. Reznicek, E. G. Voss, & B. S. Walters. February 2011. University of Michigan. Web. July 7, 2022.