Betula papyrifera - Paper Birch
Family: Betulaceae

Hear the scientific name

Betula papyrifera is a fast-growing tree with distinctive white bark. Paper Birch is probably the best of all the white bark birches for Ohio. It is very hardy.

Alternate common name: Canoe Birch

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  form2 form Form

-medium to large tree up to 40' tall x 30' wide

-typically develops a 0.5:1 height to width ratio

-loosely pyramidal at youth developing an oval rounded crown at maturity

-medium to rapid growth

foliage2 foliage Foliage

-leaves alternate, deciduous, generally rounded

-varies from 0.5-4" long x up to 2" wide

-leaf margin is doubly serrated

-deep green in summer to bright yellow in Oct.


-flowers not showy

-male catkin is yellowish, female catkin is greenish


-the fruit on this plant is the largest of the birch (2" long x 0.25" wide) brown


-bolder than most birches with alternate leaf attachment; cherry-like shiny brown twigs; imbricate buds are acute tipped

trunk2 trunk Trunk

-white bark is smooth and extremely showy; may peel as the tree ages

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-best performance in acid moist soils and a well-mulched root zone

-from full sun to partial shade

-provide cool conditions whenever possible

-moderate availability; typically in clump form

-propagated primarily by seed

distribution map


-zones 3 to 7


-native to the boreal forests of North America. The tree is characteristic of arboreal forest, and is native in limited areas of Ohio that include Oak Openings near Toledo and extreme northeastern tip of the state.

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-white bark

-foliage casts light shade


-plant is moderately susceptible to both bronze birch borer and the birch leaf miner, though comparatively more tolerant than other white bark birches in Ohio

-not heat tolerant


-accent tree


-medium in foliage; finer during the winter months

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Varieties and Cultivars - Search OSU PlantFacts for additional plants in this species


-other white bark birches (few options for Ohio)

-other trees with ornamental bark (see Acer griseum)


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