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Betula alleghaniensis - Britton.

Common Name Yellow Birch, Swamp Birch
Family Betulaceae
USDA hardiness 3-7
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Usually found in moist well-drained soils in rich woodlands on lower slopes, it is also found in cool marshlands in the south of its range[62, 229].
Range North-eastern N. America - Newfoundland to Virginia and Tennessee.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (4 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Betula alleghaniensis Yellow Birch, Swamp Birch


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Boréal
Betula alleghaniensis Yellow Birch, Swamp Birch
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Boréal

 

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Summary

Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Betula alleghaniensis is a deciduous Tree growing to 12 m (39ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in October. The species is monoecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but both sexes can be found on the same plant) and is pollinated by Wind.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils, prefers well-drained soil and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

B. lutea.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Secondary; Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark  Sap
Edible Uses: Condiment  Sweetener  Tea

Inner bark - cooked or dried and ground into a powder and used with cereals in making bread[62]. Inner bark is generally only seen as a famine food, used when other forms of starch are not available or are in short supply[K]. Sap - raw or cooked. A sweet flavour[62, 102, 161, 177]. The sap is harvested in early spring, before the leaves unfurl, by tapping the trunk. It flows abundantly, but the sugar content is much lower than maple sap[226]. A pleasant drink, it can also be concentrated into a syrup or fermented into a beer[183, 226]. An old English recipe for the beer is as follows:- "To every Gallon of Birch-water put a quart of Honey, well stirr'd together; then boil it almost an hour with a few Cloves, and a little Limon-peel, keeping it well scumm'd. When it is sufficiently boil'd, and become cold, add to it three or four Spoonfuls of good Ale to make it work...and when the Test begins to settle, bottle it up . . . it is gentle, and very harmless in operation within the body, and exceedingly sharpens the Appetite, being drunk ante pastum."[269]. A tea is made from the twigs and leaves[62, 177]. The dried leaves are used according to another report[183]. An excellent flavour[226]. The twigs and leaves have the flavour of wintergreen and can be used as condiments[183].

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Antiseborrheic  Cathartic  Emetic

Yellow birch is little used medicinally, though a decoction of the bark has been used by the native North American Indians as a blood purifier, acting to cleanse the body by its emetic and cathartic properties[257]. The bark is a source of 'Oil of Wintergreen'[226]. This does have medicinal properties, though it is mainly used as a flavouring in medicines[226].

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Other Uses

Containers  Fuel  Waterproofing  Wood

The bark is waterproof and has been used by native peoples as the outer skin of canoes, as roofing material on dwellings and to make containers such as buckets, baskets and dishes[257]. Wood - close-grained, very strong, hard, heavy. The wood is too dense to float[226]. An important source of hardwood lumber, it is used for furniture, boxes, tubs of wheels, floors etc[46, 61, 82, 171, 229]. It is also often used as a fuel[46, 61]. A dynamic accumulator gathering minerals or nutrients from the soil and storing them in a more bioavailable form - used as fertilizer or to improve mulch.

Special Uses

Dynamic accumulator  Food Forest  Scented Plants

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Specimen, Woodland garden. Succeeds in a well-drained loamy soil in a sheltered position[11, 200]. Grows well in heavy clay soils. Dislikes wet soils[200]. Shade tolerant[200]. A slow-growing tree, it is relatively long-lived for a birch, with specimens 200 years old recorded[229]. Plants often grow taller than the 12 metres mentioned above[229]. The trees are highly susceptible to forest fires, even when wet the bark is highly inflammable[226]. The bruised foliage has a strong smell of wintergreen[200]. Hybridizes freely with other members of this genus[50]. Trees are notably susceptible to honey fungus[200]. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, Inconspicuous flowers or blooms. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 7 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is a standard with a non-suckering single trunk [1-2]. The root pattern is flat with shallow roots forming a plate near the soil surface [1-2]. The root pattern is a heart root, dividing from the crown into several primary roots going down and out [1-2].

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Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a light position in a cold frame[78, 80, 113, 134]. Only just cover the seed and place the pot in a sunny position[78, 80, 134]. Spring sown seed should be surface sown in a sunny position in a cold frame[113, 134]. If the germination is poor, raising the temperature by covering the seed with glass can help[134]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a cold frame for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. If you have sufficient seed, it can be sown in an outdoor seedbed, either as soon as it is ripe or in the early spring - do not cover the spring sown seed. Grow the plants on in the seedbed for 2 years before planting them out into their permanent positions in the winter[78, 80, 113, 134].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

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Expert comment

Author

Britton.

Botanical References

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Links / References

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Readers comment

David Beaulieu   Tue Jan 24 2006

Yellow Birch Trees Information for homeowners interested in growing yellow birch trees.

c.   Thu Nov 26 2009

"The trees are highly susceptible to forest fires, even when wet the bark is highly inflammable[226]." Did you mean to caution that yellow birch is highly 'flammable'?

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