|Betula papyrifera||Paper Birch; White Birch;
Origin: North America
A beautiful slender tree, usually growing to 20-25 m tall, but occasionally to 40 m, with one of the whitest of barks. The leaves are small, roughly triangular, toothed and downy beneath, and flutter in the breeze, giving an appearance of lightness and delicacy to the whole tree. The papery bark peels from the trunk in thin strips. Male and female catkins are formed in the autumn and are present through the winter, the male pendent and the female upright on the twigs; in spring the male releases its pollen to fertilise the simple female flowers; the female catkin then becomes pendulous with the weight of the nutlets. The leaves turn yellow-orange in autumn. Several varieties, subspecies and cultivars have been identified.
Much used by native Americans to make canoes and roofing for their wigwams, as the bark is light, tough, durable and impervious to water.
Introduced in 1750.
The name Betula is an ancient Latin word for birches; papyrifera means paper-bearing.