Plant Data Sheet



Paper birch, Betula papyrifera




Paper birch ranges across Canada southward into the northern United States. (1)


Climate, Elevation

The climate is with short cool summers and long cold winters during which the ground is covered with snow for long periods.(2) Grows at grows at moderate elevations. (1)


Local occurrence (where, how common)

It is a pioneer tree after fire disturbance and is commonly associated with white and black spruce and poplar. (1)


Habitat preferences

Paper birth prefers a well-drained, sandy loam soil on cool moisture sites. (1)


Plant strategy type/successional stage (stress-tolerator, competitor, weedy/colonizer, seral, late successional)

Shade-intolerant. (1)


Associated species

Balsam Fir (Abies balsamea),Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis), White Spruce, (Picea glauca), Black Spruce, (Picea mariana), Jack Pine (Pinus banksiana), Bigtooth Aspen (Populus grandidentata), Quaking Aspen (Populus tremuloides) (3)


May be collected as: (seed, layered, divisions, etc.)

Seed, stem or branch cutting. (3)


Collection restrictions or guidelines

Some paper birch seeds may be collected from August through the following spring. (2) Collect seeds by picking or stripping the strobiles while they are still green enough to hold together and placing them directly into bags. (1)

Cuttings should be taken when shoots are still active with the base of the cutting just becoming firm. (1)


Seed germination (needs dormancy breaking?)

Unstratified seed germinates better than stratified seed. Sow seed during late summer or fall, or in spring after four to eight weeks of cold stratification.(1)


Seed life (can be stored, short shelf-life, long shelf-life)

Paper birch seed may be stored for at least 2 years and up to 8 years. (2)


Recommended seed storage conditions

Room temperature if the moisture content is maintained at less than 5 percent. For long storage such as 8 years, 2 to 4 C (35 to 40 F) in sealed containers and at low moisture.(2)


Propagation recommendations (plant seeds, vegetative parts, cuttings, etc.)

Picking or stripping the strobiles, spread seeds out, sowing the seeds.

Or collect cuttings and dip the cuttings in an 8000 ppm IBA talc rooting hormone before planting. (1)


Soil or medium requirements (inoculum necessary?)

Best seed germination occurs on mineral soil. (2)


Installation form (form, potential for successful outcomes, cost)

Seeds, container-plants grown from seeds, green cuttings, bare root or containerized block. Planting out 2-year-old or older. (3)


Recommended planting density

1,344,795-9,082,895 seeds per kilogram. (1)


Care requirements after installed (water weekly, water once, never water, etc.)

Growth can be accelerated for both seedlings and cuttings by placing them under long, warm day conditions with good air circulation and adequate moisture and nutrition. (1)


Normal rate of growth or spread; lifespan

Young paper birch grows rapidly. Individual trees often have a diameter of 20 cm (8 in) after 30 years. Trees mature in 60 to 70 years, and few live longer than 140 to 200 years. (2)


Sources cited


(1) Rose, R., C. Chachulski and D. Haase. 1996. Propagation of Pacific Northwest Native Plants: A Manual, Volume Two, First Edition. Nursery Technology Cooperative, Oregon State University, Corvallis, Oregon, 73 p.


(2) Burns, R. and B. Honkala 1990. Silvics of North America, Volume 2, Hardwoods. Agricultural Handbook 654. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Washington, D. C. 877 p.




Data compiled by: Yongjiang Zhang, May 12th 2003