bright white, peeling bark of paper birch make
this tree one of the easiest in the northwoods to identify. The
only tree commonly mistaken for paper birch is quaking aspen, which
sometimes has snow white, smooth bark but it does not peel. The
trunks are usually straight and are covered with black blotches
or lines. As the tree gets older, these blotches expand. The paper
birch doesn't get any taller than 30 feet and can often be found
growing in clumps with several other birches.
birch leaves are 2-3 inches long and have a rounded
leaf base. Leaf margins are serrated or double-serrated. The fine
twigs are purplish with many small white spots called lenticles.
Paper birch flowers, called catkins, are about
an inch long. They are lightweight and easily crumble if touched.
Paper birch is a sun-loving, short-lived tree. It is often one of
the first trees to move back into recently burned areas.
Ecosystems of the Upper Peninsula