Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Western Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Betula occidentalis Hook.
- Family: Birch (Betulaceae)
- Flowering: May-June
- Field Marks: This birch is a small tree or large shrub that has a shiny bronze bark that does not peel off. Its thin, pointed, ovate leaves also help distinguish the species.
- Habitat: Along streams, in ravines, bogs.
- Habit: Small tree or large shrub.
- Bark: Smooth, shiny, bronze, not peeling.
- Stems: Usually slightly glandular-sticky, with conspicuous pale lenticels.
- Leaves: Alternate, simple, ovate, up to 2 inches long, not quite as wide, usually pointed at the tip, rounded or tapering to the base, doubly toothed, smooth, thin.
- Flowers: Male and female flowers borne in separate spikes, the male spikes slender,
pendulous, up to 3/4 inch long, with flowers in groups of 3, each group subtended by a small
bract, the female spikes thicker and shorter, erect, with flowers in groups of 3, each group
subtended by a small, 3-parted bract.
- Sepals: 0.
- Petals: 0.
- Stamens: 2.
- Pistils: Ovary inferior.
- Fruits: "Cone"-like spikes consisting of 3-parted bracts that subtend tiny nutlets with narrow wings.
- Notes: The immature male spikes are present during the winter. In part of its range, this tree is known as Betula fontinalis.
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