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Tree Species of the World's Boreal Forests

Herbs, Shrubs and Other Plants

GLOSSARIES
Terminology | Pictorial

   
Betula occidentalis
Water Birch
Betulaceae (Birch Family)

A small tree with rounded crown of spreading and drooping branches, usually forming clumps and often in thickets, growing to a height of 7.6 m and a diameter of 15 - 30 cm.

Description

Water Birch Distinguishing Features - Leaves: ovate, 2 - 5 cm long, sharply and often doubly saw-toothed; usually with 4-5 veins on each side. Dark green above, pale yellow-green with tiny gland-dots beneath; turning dull yellow in autumn. Bark: shiny, dark reddish-brown; smooth, with horizontal lines, not peeling. Twigs: greenish, slender, with gland-dots. Flowers: tiny; in early spring; male, yellowish, with 2 stamens, many in long drooping catkins near tip of twigs; female, greenish, in short upright catkins back of tip of same twig. Cones: 2.5 - 3 cm long; cylindrical, brownish, upright or spreading on slender stalk; with many double-winged nutlets; maturing in late summer.

Habitat

A western species; In Canada, from British Columbia, east to southern Manitoba; south to New Mexico and California; in moist soil conditions along streams in mountain canyons, usually in coniferous forests and with cottonwoods and willows.

Notes

The Water Birch has little or no commercial value; primarily a browse for sheep and goats.

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