Sunday, July 15, 2012

Yellow Birch

Yellow Birch (Betula alleghaniensis) grows throughout the northeastern US and Canada and the Appalachians. I think of it as a swamp tree but apparently it grows best in well-drained loam.  It is a common tree in Michigan wetlands since it can tolerate wet soil much better than most competing trees.

Yellow Birch is a food source for a number of animals, including deer, moose, snowshoe hare, ruffed grouse, and red squirrels.  A broken twig has a pleasant sweet smell, like root beer.  Some people drink tea from the twigs and bark.  According to the USDA, its wood is used for furniture, cabinetry, and veneer or it can be processed for charcoal or wood alcohol [pdf].

While it doesn't have the striking white bark of the Paper Birch, the Yellow Birch's silver bark is distinctive with peels of paper-thin strips.

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