WSU Clark County Extension

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Paperbark Birch

Scientific name: Betula papyrifera

Type:Deciduous tree
Plant Requirements
Zone:2 to 9
Sun:Full to partial sun
Plant Characteristics
Height:75 ft
Width:30 ft
Bloom:Spring flowers
Bloom Time:April
Bloom Color:Green
Additional Characteristics



Wildlife value

Description Best known for its peeling white bark, Paperbark Birch is a welcome addition to the Northwest garden during the short days of winter.

This deciduous tree grows to a height of 75’ and width of 30’. It features a loose, pyramidal shape at maturity. Leaves have serrated edges and are dull green on the upper surface and pale beneath. In the fall the leaves take on a most pleasing yellow color. Leaves range in length from 2”-4”.

Male flowers are called catkins. They consist of tubular structures 2"- 4" and only ¼” wide. These typically occur in groups of three. Female catkins are not as long.

Young trees feature reddish-brown bark with horizontal lenticels. Latter the bark becomes chalky and creamy white, peeling off in horizontal strips.

Paperbark Birch is widely adapted to most soil types but does best on well-drained ones. This is a sun loving plant that performs best under cooler summer temperatures.

Bronze birch borer is the principal insect pest. Larvae tunnel under the bark girdling the tree leading to premature death. The best defense is to keep the roots cool during the summer by using mulch or groundcovers. Foliage can be attacked by birch leaf miners and aphids. Avoid planting this tree near automobiles as the honeydew from the aphids can leave the car sticky.
For assistance, contact Dr. Charles Brun (, (360) 397-6060 5701
Computing and Web Resources, PO Box 6234, Washington State University, Pullman WA 99164-6234