Birch or alder?

Discussion in 'Plants: Identification' started by Polar, Nov 6, 2017.

  1. Polar

    Polar Active Member

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Pender Harbour & West Vancouver
    I believe this is a birch. I am wondering if there is a way to clearly distinguish a birch from an alder at this time of year when there are no catkins or strobiles?

    Also, can you suggest a species?

    B. nigra...?

    Or something else altogether?
     

    Attached Files:

    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 7, 2017
  2. Michael F

    Michael F Esteemed Contributor Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    10,449
    Likes Received:
    75
    Location:
    Britain zone 8/9
    Birch. Not sure what species, it'll be easier to tell when it is older and shows mature bark colour and has catkins.
     
    Polar likes this.
  3. Polar

    Polar Active Member

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Pender Harbour & West Vancouver
    Thank you Michael.
    I will post photos when the catkins appear.
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    19,185
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    If there is no information about the origin of the specimen it could even be a hybrid from seed collected in cultivation. Partly because birches are wind pollinated this happens often enough for wild collected seeds to be considered preferable. Otherwise of the much planted species I would compare this example to paper birch - which is actually native to the Vancouver area.
     
  5. Polar

    Polar Active Member

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Pender Harbour & West Vancouver
    There is no white showing on the bark - though one distant picture may hint at that.

    I wonder if there is the possibility that the bark in youth could be a rich reddish brown yet becoming white as it matures?

    Photo of catkins to post as soon as they show up :-)
     
  6. Ron B

    Ron B Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    19,185
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    WA USA (Z8)
    I wonder if there is the possibility that the bark in youth could be a rich reddish brown yet becoming white as it matures?

    This is usual with these.
     
    Polar likes this.
  7. Polar

    Polar Active Member

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Pender Harbour & West Vancouver
    Thank you Ron, much appreciated!
     
  8. Polar

    Polar Active Member

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Pender Harbour & West Vancouver
    I have noticed that around here, the alders have catkins about an inch long now, extending visibly day by day.

    The Birch on our property do not have visible carkins yet (I’m assuming they’re mature enough to set these as they did so last year)

    Alders and birch are in the same family. Of course there is huge variation within the species of each genus however I’m wondering the following:

    Is this feature common to all Birch, that is setting catkins after alders? Or does this provide me with a way of identifying which Birch is growing on my property?

    Thanks!
     
  9. Daniel Mosquin

    Daniel Mosquin Renowned Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years

    Messages:
    9,278
    Likes Received:
    163
    Location:
    Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
    I've not seen any identification keys to birches via catkins, though the shape of the eventual seeds can become important in distinguishing some taxa from each other (for example, the varieties of paper birch).
     
  10. Polar

    Polar Active Member

    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Pender Harbour & West Vancouver
    Good to know! Thank you!
     

Share This Page