Gray birch

Prepared by Jennifer L. D’Appollonio, Assistant Scientist, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469. Updated February 2018.

Scientific name: Betula populifolia Marsh.

Common name(s): gray birch, oldfield birch

Links: USDA PLANTS Profile, NPIN Profile, Go Botany

Images: (to see enlargements [PC]: click on image, then right click and choose “view image”)


Slender tree with smooth white bark. Leaves dark green, triangular with a long tapering tip, 1.5″-2.5″ long and 1″- 2″ wide. Buds have sharp points that point away from the twig. Unisexual flowers, male catkins are pre-formed in the summer and over winter, 1.5″ to 2.5″ long when mature in the spring; female catkins 0.5″ long and slender. The fruit’s thin wings broader than the nutlet. Prefers dry, upland soils.

– may be confused with B. papyrifera, which also occurs in wild blueberry fields; see left sidebar on Go Botany webpage