This tree has been referred to as the "Lady of the Northern Forests", which is quite a tribute and well-deserved. It is graceful, almost willowy, and possesses chastely, pale bark. But it has many common names as well such as Paper birch, White birch, or Canoe birch, and botanically it is Betula papyrifera. This elegant native of North America grows across Canada, from Labrador to British Columbia and is the provincial tree of Saskatchewan.
The first attribute of Paper birch is its bark. It is smooth, especially when young, and immaculately white. The tree is beautiful when grown alone as a specimen, but even more impressive when grouped. A stand of Paper birches possesses a contemplative atmosphere, almost temple like. And this is a year-round asset. But Paper birch also has attractive foliage, small and doubly serrate, emerald in spring, darker for summer and then bright, butter yellow for autumn. The combination of white limbs and yellow leaves is striking. But Paper birch also has numerous practical assets. The bark was used for baskets and canoes by many Native Americans and the sap was used as a medicine for colds. And the light, flexible wood was ideal for snowshoe frames. Paper birch is also used to prevent stream bank erosion and it’s a blessing for wildlife since deer, moose, porcupine and beaver browse all parts of it, while birds feed on the sap.

Although it can reach greater heights in the forests, in cultivation Paper birch is usually found growing at 50 feet tall and spreading to 25 feet, with an irregular oval silhouette. It prefers short, cool summers and long, hard winters and in addition to Canada it grows across the upper US and thrives in the coolest parts of the UK. Although it can withstand some drought Paper birch is healthier and more pest resistant when grown on moist sites. It can grow on most any soil type, including alkaline.


Paper birch

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