Yellow Birch

Betula alleghaniensis

leavesHabitat: Commonly found at the higher elevations in the Appalachians (3,000-4,000 feet). Prefers moist woods and poorly-drained soils; ubiquitous in swamp forests and bogs. It is often seen growing near sweet birch, hemlock, and rhododendron.

bark Characteristics: A moderately tall tree that approaches 80 feet in height; the trunk having a diameter of 2-4 feet. The bark is yellow-bronze in color and peels away in small curls. Broken twigs give off a fragrant wintergreen odor.

In Ohio, the yellow birch is found in deep, moist, cool ravines in the northeastern quarter of the state and southward along the western border of the Allegheny Plateau. It generally grows in association with hemlock, sugar maple, and beech trees.

The lustrous, smooth, silvery-yellow bark on the limbs and young trunks gives the tree its name. As the trunk grows larger, the bark breaks and rolls back in thin paper curls.

The twigs have a faint wintergreen scent like that of the black birch, with which this tree may be confused. However, the wintergreen scent of black birch twigs is very strong. About 75 percent of the lumber marketed under the name of birch comes from the yellow birch.


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This key was developed by "bt" in June 1982. It was put into HTML format by Stephen Ostermiller in July 1997. Copies of the entire guide in zip format that may be taken to camp on a laptop are available to those who write.