Tree Species of the World's Boreal Forests

Herbs, Shrubs and Other Plants

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.


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.


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.


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

Return to Top of Page

Home | Forest Capital of Canada | About Our Website |
Ontario's North (West) Forest | Boreal Forests of the World | North (West) Forest Industry |
World Links and Resources | "Forest Finder" Search Engine | Educational Resources |
What's Happening | Contacts | Site Map |