Graves, Arthur H. Formerly, Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, New Haven, Connecticut.
Davis, Kenneth P. Formerly, School of Forestry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
Last reviewed:January 2019
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A deciduous tree of the genus Betula, which is distributed over much of North America, in Asia (south to the Himalayas), and in Europe. Birch trees are assigned to the genus Betula. They belong to the family Betulaceae (which also contains alders, hornbeams, and hophornbeams) in the order Fagales. Approximately 40 species of birch are known. The sweet birch (B. lenta), yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis), and paper birch (B. papyrifera) [Fig. 1] are all important timber trees of the eastern United States. Both the yellow and paper species extend into Canada. The gray birch (B. populifolia) is a smaller tree of the extreme northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. The river (black) birch (B. nigra) is a less common tree of wet soils and banks of streams; it is important as an ornamental tree and for erosion control. See also: Alder; Deciduous plants; Erosion; Fagales; Forest; Forest timber resources; Forestry; Hophornbeam; Hornbeam; Ornamental plants; Tree
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