Paper Birch bark colour

Discussion in 'Plants: Science and Cultivation' started by sgbotsford, Jan 15, 2015.

  1. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford Active Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    I am in central Alberta, about 75 km south west of Edmonton, in Aspen Parkland eco-zone.

    I have several groves of paper birch in my collection of forests. One, however is a bit strange, in that the bark colour is wildly variable. I've attached a couple of samples.

    Initially I thought they were B. nigra, but the USFS Silvics manual says that B. nigra is an eastern species, and it's not been a popular landscape tree until recently.

    I also considered B. fontinalis (or occidentalis) but the pictures I've found show it to be shrubby, although there are some mentions of it being up to 30 feet high.

    My suspicion is that they are hybrids of some sort, but not sure from what.

    1. Is it reasonable that I may have a mixed stand of B. fontinalis and B. papyrifera?

    2. Are these colour variations normal for non-hybridized paper birch?

    3. Other possibilities?

    ***

    The salmon barked one, in particular I would like to propagate. Can birch be propagated by cuttings?
     

    Attached Files:

  2. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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    In my area most paper birch start out brown. The way to check for crossing with the other species - is it present in the vicinity? - would be to look at the leaves and seed cones when those are present.
     
  3. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford Active Member 10 Years

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    I'm quite familiar with them being brown while young. I've got a row of 12 footers about 1 inch to 1.5" in diameter. Some are white, some are not.

    But you will notice in the pix that one has grey weathered surface and pink where it's freshly exposed.

    In the other pic, we have two specimens, approximately 3" thick each, one pure white, the other red brown.

    Don't know right now if I have water birch locally. (with wind pollenated trees, locally can be a ways...)

    Found this article to help distintuish River, Weeping, Paper and Water birch:
    (B. nigra, B. pendula, B. papyrifera, and B. occidentalis)

    http://www.gardentaining.com/PSC2620/genus_comps/betula.html
     
  4. Ron B

    Ron B Paragon of Plants 10 Years

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  5. sgbotsford

    sgbotsford Active Member 10 Years

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    Useful link, thanks!

    After reading this, considerable chunks of the variability can be ascribed to normal variation in B. paperifera.

    Also found this listing:

    http://linnet.geog.ubc.ca/Atlas/Atlas.aspx?sciname=Betula%20papyrifera

    B. papyrifera var commutata is listed as having a fairly limited distribution, and does not include Alberta.
    B. papyrifera var papyrifera is widespread, and includes grey and pink/orange bark.

    Walking my grove this afternoon, I've found dark brown trunks with exfoliating bark, pink trunks that the pink extended to weathered bark.

    Also, in my wanderings the dark trunk trees are as tall as the lighter trunked ones. (Currently most of the grove runs 35-50 feet) The grove is mixed with poplars, so the tops of the trees with all the leaf and flowers are hard to reach.
     

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