Yellow Birch - <em>Betula alleghaniensis Britton</em> - Zone 2b -

Yellow Birch - Betula alleghaniensis Britton - Zone 2b

Yellow Birch, the provincial tree of Quebec, is a medium to large deciduous tree native to the north eastern parts of North America.  It is the largest of the eastern birches; It is a beautiful decorative tree marked by its peeling, golden/copper bark.

1-3 Feetsold-out$20.00$0.00
3-5 Feetsold-out$25.00$0.00

The Tree

Yellow Birches are slow-growing trees that can reach heights of 30 metres and trunk diameters nearing a metre. Given open space they will develop large spreading crowns that provide ample shade. This will not be the case in the confines of the forest where crowns will be smaller and more irregular.  They develop shallow but extensive root systems. These are relatively long-living trees with typical life spans of at least 150 years and the potential to live 300 years. The bark is thin, and in the early stages of development is a reddish/brown flecked with white, very similar to its cousin the Paper Birch. As the trees age they distinguish themselves with their peeling bark ranging in colour from golden/copper to gray and giving them a shaggy look. More tolerant of shade than the other eastern birches, the Yellow Birch is a mid-succession species in forest development and follows the pioneer species as they begin to die out. They grow best in moist, mineral rich soils.  Seedlings have trouble penetrating compact ground and will often sprout on top of mossy logs and stumps or disturbed areas, resulting in a lot of weird root structures among wild Yellow Birches.

Its Uses

The twigs of the Yellow Birch when scratched give off a scent of wintergreen. These trees and their cousin the Sweet Birch are used as the source for Oil of Wintergreen, used to flavour many medicines. They are one of the primary hardwoods used in the distillation of wood alcohol and basically every part of the tree is serviceable in one way or another. The sap can be made into syrup or beer, the leaves and twigs can be made into tea, the leaves are edible and the inner bark can be used as a flour substitute or extender. The bark of these trees is waterproof and was used by native peoples for making the exterior of canoes and structures. It can also be turned into a tar that was one of the earliest glues used by mankind. Yellow Birch lumber is highly valued.  At least 75% of lumber sold as birch is Yellow Birch. The wood is heavy and strong with good bending properties. It is used for a wide range of purposes, in particular being one of the most widely used woods for veneer.

Height at maturity30 meters (100 feet)
Spacing9 meters (30 feet)
Hardiness zone2b
SoilMoist, mineral rich
Sun / shadeSun, partial shade
Average fruit weightn/a
Fruit colorn/a
Years to bear fruitn/a
Latin nameBetula alleghaniensis Britton
Average diameter of fruitn/a
Also known asSwamp birch