Betulaceae (Birch Family)
General - tall deciduous, perennial shrub, or occasionally small tree; multistemmed and loosely spreading, up to 6 m tall; bark, smooth, light brown, often with a white striping; twigs brown, slender, and zigzagged, the current year's twigs are hairy.
Leaves - alternate, margins irregularly and coarsely double-toothed, bright green, tapering to a point at the tip, rounded or heart-shaped at the base; generally hairy underneath.
Flowers - Female flowers are borne in pedent catkins on the previous year's twigs. Male flowers are borne singularly from small rounded buds and have bright red stigmas. Male flowers appear in the form of small catkins in fall, pollinating tiny red female flowers,opening in late April and May.
Fruit - round, smooth nut with a very hard shell, enclosed in a leafy sac which protrudes beyond the nut like a beak and is covered with stiff hairs. These sacs are borne singularly, or in groups of two or three, at the end of the current year's twigs, ripening in late August and September.
Widespread throughout NW Ontario; occurring in a wide range of forest types, primarily in dry/fresh, upland, hardwood dominated stands. Also in clearings and along forest edges.
Can sometimes be confused with the Speckled Alder or Green Alder and shrub occurrences of the Paper Birch. The fruit makes identification easier when present. The twigs of the Speckled Alder and Paper Birch are heavily speckled compared to those of the Beaked Hazel. The leaves of Green Alder are less obviously double-toothed.
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