Betula pumila

Bog Birch

Bog Birch
Photo courtesy Wisconsin State Herbarium and
Hugh H. Iltis

Flora, fauna, earth, and sky...
The natural history of the northwoods


Name:

  • Betula, from the Latin for birch
  • pumila, from the Latin, "dwarfish, little"
  • Bog Birch, from the characteristic habitat of this northern tree/shrub.
  • Other common names include Low Birch, Swamp Birch

Taxonomy:

  • Kingdom Plantae, the Plants
    • Division Magnoliophyta, the Angiosperms (flowering plants)
      • Class Magnoliopsida, the Dicotyledons
      • Subclass Hamamelididae
        • Order Fagales
          • Family Betulaceae, the Birches
            • Genus Betula, the Birches
    • Taxonomic Serial Number: 19498

Description:

  • A small tree/tall shrub of northern wetlands to 9' tall.
  • Leaves alternate, simple, obovate to ovate to orbicular, rounded or pointed at the tip, rounded or tapering at the base, coarsely toothed, usually smooth on the upper surface, paler and smooth or hairy on the lower surface, up to 1½" long, up to 1" wide; leaf-stalks about ¼" long, smooth or hairy.
  • Stem
    • Twigs slender, brown.
    • Buds up to ¼" long, pointed, more or less hairy.
  • Roots
  • Flowers: Male and female flowers born separately but on the same plant, the male in drooping clusters, the female in erect clusters up to 1" long.
  • Fruits: Tiny nutlets with broad wings, each subtended by a 3-lobed bract, crowded together in a cylindrical cone up to 1½" long and up to ½" thick.

Identification:

  • Field Marks
    • The only shrubby birch in the midwest.
    • Its bark does not peel or shred.

Distribution:

  • Northern North America, south in mountains.

Habitat:

Fire:

Associates:

  • Trees:
  • Shrubs:
  • Herbs:
  • Ground Covers:
  • Mammals:
  • Birds:

History:

Uses:

Reproduction:

  • Sexually by seed

Propagation:

  • By seed

Cultivation:

  • Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40ºF)

Links:

Comments:

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Last updated on 5 March, 2006