The paper birch is a uniquely elegant tree that has a rich and useful history. Long before it became an ornamental tree, Native Americans used its wood to make baskets, canoes, and baby carriers, and the thin, white bark was used as paper to write on and send as messages.
Today, these lovely trees are one of the most prevalent types of trees in Michigan and they can be found in every county in the state, including the Upper and Lower Peninsulas.
Let’s discuss how you can identify a paper birch on your property, and how to take care of it so it will thrive.
What is a Paper Birch Tree?
The paper birch, otherwise known as the white birch, silver birch, and canoe birch, is a lovely tree with white, papery bark. It’s considered to be a pioneer species. This means that it’s a hardy tree that often grows in environments that have been disturbed in some way.
Paper birch trees are easy to spot by their smooth, white bark. As the bark ages, it begins to curl up and peel off of the tree, creating a beautiful effect.
In the springtime, paper birch trees produce oval-shaped leaves that come to a tip. The edges are serrated and they alternate on the branches of the tree. When autumn arrives, the leaves turn a radiant shade of yellow before falling off of the tree. Since they lose their leaves each autumn and grow them again in the spring, paper birch trees are classified as deciduous.
Along with new leaves, the paper birch produces pretty yellow flowers, called catkins, each spring, making them a perfect ornamental tree to compliment your home’s landscape.
How to Identify One in Your Yard
If you’re curious about identifying the tree species in your yard, the paper birch makes it easy to do. It’s one of the easiest types of trees in Michigan to identify. You can’t miss the telltale white, smooth bark of a paper birch tree. In fact, it’s the white bark that allows them to grow in northern climates like ours.
According to Northern Woodlands Magazine, ecologists believe paper birch trees have white bark to protect their core temperatures during the winter months. White objects reflect the sun’s rays. You can also identify a paper birch by its oval-shaped leaves and bright yellow flowers in the springtime. Many homes are surrounded by these ornamental trees. You can also find them near rivers and along the side of the road.
How to Take Care of Paper Birch Trees
If there’s a paper birch tree on your property, you’re in luck. Their elegant, contrasting colors bring vibrancy to your home landscaping, but they’re also very easy to maintain. Paper birch trees aren’t fussy and they don’t need a lot of extra attention. They’re hardy trees that have learned to adapt and thrive in all kinds of conditions. Your paper birch will grow best in soil that is well-drained, sandy loam and they need full to partial sun in order to grow.
Paper birch trees also grow pretty quickly. If you’ve got a young tree on your property, you can expect it to grow from 13 to 24 inches each year until it reaches a mature height of 30 to 65 feet tall. Regularly prune your paper birch tree and keep an eye out for pests like bronze birch borers or birch leafminers, since they can cause your tree to become weak and more susceptible to disease.
Paper birch trees are a great asset to your property and one of the most prevalent types of trees in Michigan. So it’s important to keep them healthy and strong. Here at Safari Tree, we’re here to help you with all your tree needs. Contact us today for more information.