Index of Species Information

SPECIES:  Betula papyrifera


SPECIES: Betula papyrifera
AUTHORSHIP AND CITATION : Uchytil, Ronald J. 1991. Betula papyrifera. In: Fire Effects Information System, [Online]. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory (Producer). Available: [].
ABBREVIATION : BETPAP SYNONYMS : Betula cordifolia Regel Betula neoalaskana var. kenaica (W. H. Evans) Boivin Betula papyrifera var. cummutata (Regel) Fern. SCS PLANT CODE : BEPA COMMON NAMES : paper birch white birch canoe birch silver birch TAXONOMY : The currently accepted scientific name of paper birch is Betula papyrifera Marsh. [38]. It is wide ranging and exhibits considerable ecotypic variation. Three intergrading geographical varieties are recognized [38,57]: Betula papyrifera var. papyrifera - typical paper birch Betula papyrifera var. cordifolia (Regel) Fern. - mountain paper birch Betula papyrifera var. kenaica (W. H. Evans) Henry - Kenai birch Birch (Betula spp.) is a genetically plastic genus, often with morphological variation continuous between species [51]. Hybridization is common. Paper birch naturally hybridizes with almost every native species in the genus. Named hybrids include [38,51,57]: B. papyrifera x B. nana = B. X hornei Butler B. papyrifera x B. populifolia = B. X caerulea Blanchard B. papyrifera x B. occidentalis = B. X utahensis (Britt.) Dugle (Syn.= B. X piperi Britton) B. papyrifera x B. pumila var. glandulifera = B. X sandbergii Britt. Crosses with yellow birch (B. alleghaniensis), sweet birch (B. lenta), and river birch (B. nigra) have not been named. LIFE FORM : Tree FEDERAL LEGAL STATUS : No special status OTHER STATUS : NO-ENTRY


SPECIES: Betula papyrifera
GENERAL DISTRIBUTION : Paper birch has a transcontinental distribution across northern North America.  It grows from Newfoundland and Labrador west along the northern limit of tree growth across Canada to northwestern Alaska, south to Washington, east and north in the mountains to western Montana and southwestern Alberta, east across the Prairie Provinces to Manitoba, and south and east through the Lake States to New England.  Scattered outlying populations occur in the Great Plains of Montana and North Dakota, the Black Hills, the Appalachian Mountains from central New York to western North Carolina, and the Front Range of Colorado [57].  Paper birch is cultivated in Hawaii [79]. Detailed descriptions of the ranges of the six varieties are available [38,66]. ECOSYSTEMS :    FRES10  White - red - jack pine    FRES11  Spruce - fir    FRES18  Maple - beech - birch    FRES19  Aspen - birch    FRES20  Douglas-fir    FRES21  Ponderosa pine    FRES22  Western white pine    FRES23  Fir - spruce    FRES24  Hemlock - Sitka spruce    FRES25  Larch    FRES28  Western hardwoods    FRES38  Plains grasslands STATES :      AK  CO  CT  HI  ID  IL  IN  IA  ME  MA      MI  MN  MT  NE  NH  NJ  NY  NC  ND  OH      OR  PA  RI  SD  VT  VA  WA  WV  WI  WY      AB  BC  LB  MB  NB  NF  NT  NS  ON  PE      PQ  SK  YT BLM PHYSIOGRAPHIC REGIONS :     2  Cascade Mountains     8  Northern Rocky Mountains    11  Southern Rocky Mountains    14  Great Plains    15  Black Hills Uplift    16  Upper Missouri Basin and Broken Lands KUCHLER PLANT ASSOCIATIONS :    K011  Western ponderosa forest    K012  Douglas-fir forest    K013  Cedar - hemlock - pine forest    K014  Grand fir - Douglas-fir forest    K015  Western spruce - fir forest    K017  Black Hills pine forest    K066  Wheatgrass - needlegrass    K081  Oak savanna    K093  Great Lakes spruce - fir forest    K095  Great Lakes pine forest    K096  Northeastern spruce - fir forest    K098  Northern floodplain forest    K102  Beech - maple forest    K106  Northern hardwoods    K107  Northern hardwoods - fir forest    K108  Northern hardwoods - spruce forest SAF COVER TYPES :      1  Jack pine      5  Balsam fir     12  Black spruce     14  Northern pin oak     15  Red pine     16  Aspen     17  Pin cherry     18  Paper birch     19  Gray birch - red maple     20  White pine - northern red oak - red maple     21  Eastern white pine     22  White pine - hemlock     23  Eastern hemlock     24  Hemlock - yellow birch     25  Sugar maple - beech - yellow birch     27  Sugar maple     30  Red spruce - yellow birch     31  Red spruce - sugar maple - beech     32  Red spruce     33  Red spruce - balsam fir     35  Paper birch - red spruce - balsam fir     37  Northern white cedar     39  Black ash - American elm - red maple     55  Northern red oak     60  Beech - sugar maple    107  White spruce    108  Red maple    201  White spruce    202  White spruce - paper birch    203  Balsam poplar    204  Black spruce    206  Engelmann spruce - subalpine fir    210  Interior Douglas-fir    213  Grand fir    217  Aspen    222  Black cottonwood - willow    224  Western hemlock    228  Western redcedar    251  White spruce - aspen    252  Paper birch    253  Black spruce - white spruce    254  Black spruce - paper birch SRM (RANGELAND) COVER TYPES : NO-ENTRY HABITAT TYPES AND PLANT COMMUNITIES : In boreal spruce ecosystems, paper birch forms nearly pure, pioneer communities on disturbed sites.  It is rare in late successional or climax forests and generally restricted to openings.  It is a principal component of boreal mixedwoods in Canada because its pioneering habit is favored by the relatively frequent 50- to 125-year fire return interval [17].  Codominants in mixedwoods include trembling aspen (Populus tremuloides), black spruce (Picea mariana), white spruce (P.  glauca), jack pine (Pinus banksiana), and balsam fir (Abies balsamifera).  In the Northern Great Plains, paper birch forms climax woodland communities on moist, north- or east-facing slopes [23,28]. Published classifications listing paper birch as a dominant in community types (cts), habitat types (hts), plant associations (pas), or ecosystem associations (eas) are presented below:       Area                 Classification            Authority interior AK               postfire cts           Foote 1983 AK                        general veg. cts       Viereck & Dyrness 1980 AK: Kenai Peninsula       forest veg. cts        Reynolds 1990 MN: Boundary Waters       general veg. cts       Ohmann & Ream 1971  Canoe Area         e MT, ne WY, w ND,        forest & woodland hts  Hansen & others 1984  w SD: Missouri Plateau sw ND                     woodland hts           Girard & others 1989 c NF                      forest veg. cts        Damman 1964 PQ: Gaspe Peninsula       forest veg. cts        Zolaseski 1988     St. Lawrence Valley   general veg. pas       Dansereau 1959 BC: Prince Rupert Forest  general veg. eas       Haeussler & others 1984  Region, Interior Cedar-  Hemlock Zone w-c Alberta               forest eas             Corns & Annas 1986


SPECIES: Betula papyrifera
WOOD PRODUCTS VALUE : Paper birch wood is used commercially for veneer, plywood, and pulpwood. It is easily worked and takes finishes and stains readily.  Furniture, cabinets, and numerous specialty items are made from paper birch lumber. Tree chips are used for pulp and paper manufacture, reconstituted uses, and fuel.  It is commonly used as fireplace and wood stove fuel [57,66]. IMPORTANCE TO LIVESTOCK AND WILDLIFE : Paper birch is an important moose browse throughout most of its range. Its nutritional quality is poor in the winter, but it is important to wintering moose because of its sheer abundance in young stands [57]. Peek [49] listed paper birch as one of the five most important browse species eaten by moose in the East.  In some areas, paper birch leaves are important in moose summer diets [36].  Although considered a "secondary-choice food", paper birch is an important dietary component of white-tailed deer [33].  In Minnesota, white-tailed deer eat considerable amounts of paper birch leaves in the fall [32]. Snowshoe hares browse paper birch seedlings and saplings and porcupines feed on the inner bark of trees [57].  In Newfoundland, paper birch was a preferred hare browse [33].  Paper birch is also eaten by beaver [24]. Numerous birds and small mammals eat paper birch buds, catkins and seeds.  Redpolls, siskins, and chickadees obtain a considerable portion of their annual diet from birch seeds [51,57].  Voles and shrews also eat the seeds [51].  Ruffed grouse eat paper birch catkins and buds [57]. Paper birch is a favorite feeding tree of yellow-bellied sapsuckers, which peck holes in the bark to feed on the sap [33].  Hummingbirds and red squirrels also feed at sapwells in paper birch created by sapsuckers [44]. PALATABILITY : Paper birch is a palatable moose browse.  In Alaska moose prefer it over aspen, balsam poplar (Populus balsamifera), and alder (Alnus spp.) but prefer it less than willow (Salix spp.), which is the most palatable moose browse [57].  Shaw [59] reported that white-tailed deer in the Northeast exhibit a clear preference for birches.  Beaver generally prefer aspen, while willow and paper birch are second choice foods [77]. NUTRITIONAL VALUE : Paper birch is a poor-quality winter moose browse.  At this time of year, twigs provide adequate amounts of protein (about 7 to 8.5% [14,48]) but are not easily digested because of high levels of lignin [36,48].  Moose may die in the winter if restricted entirely to a diet of paper birch [36]. Paper birch leaves sampled in July contained 16.9 percent protein [48]. COVER VALUE : Young paper birch stands provide prime deer and moose cover [57]. Numerous cavity-nesting birds nest in paper birch, including woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, and swallows [44,56]. VALUE FOR REHABILITATION OF DISTURBED SITES : Paper birch is useful for long-term revegetation and soil stabilization of severely disturbed sites.  It is used to reclaim coal, lignite, rock phosphate, slate, gold, oil-shale, bauxite, and other mine spoils [52,70].  Best results are obtained by planting 2-year-old or older bare-root or containerized stock [52].  It is occasionally transplanted as wildlings.  Methods for collecting, extracting, cleaning, storing, and sowing paper birch seed to produce nursery grown seedlings are available [11,26,70].  Paper birch may also be propagated by grafting, air layering, rooting of cuttings, or tissue-culture techniques [57]. OTHER USES AND VALUES : Paper birch's graceful form and attractive bark make it a popular landscape plant [57].  The sap is made into syrup, wine, beer, and medicinal tonics.  Currently only a few small sugaring operations in Alaska utilize paper birch [57]. Native Americans made paper birch bark into baskets, storage containers, mats, baby carriers, moose and bird calls, torches, household utensils, and canoes [30].  The strong and flexible wood was made into spears, bows, arrows, snowshoes, sleds, and other items [30]. OTHER MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Silviculture:  Paper birch is shade-intolerant and can regenerate under even-aged silviculture.  Clearcutting is the most common silvicultural system used for paper birch, but shelterwood, strip cuts, and small patch cuts are used to provide partial shade where summer precipitation is limiting [58].  For good seedling establishment at least 50 percent of the cut area should be scarified [58]. Wildlife damage:  Severe deer or moose browsing in clearcuts can prevent or delay paper birch regeneration [6,33].  Following timber harvest in Newfoundland, paper birch regeneration averaged 13 inches (33 cm) tall where moose densities were high but averaged nearly 50 inches (127 cm) elsewhere [6].  Snowshoe hare and other small mammals often clip or gnaw the bark of planted seedlings [57]. Chemical control:  Paper birch is susceptible to 2,4-D, 2,4,5,-T, dichlorprop, or glyphosate applied as a foliar spray [10,24]. Glyphosate, hexazinone, or triclopyr applied by hypohatchet also kill paper birch [24]. Leaf litter/conifer germination:  Paper birch leaf litter inhibits jack pine, red pine (Pinus resinosa), and eastern white pine (P. strobus) seed germination [51]. Insects:  The bronze birch borer is the most serious insect pest of paper birch.  It attacks and can kill injured, overmature, or decadent trees [12].  There are numerous defoliators of paper birch, but they seldom cause mortality of healthy trees [57]. Diseases:  Bacteria or decay fungi enter paper birch boles through wounds and branch stubs, and roots which come in contact with the roots of other trees infected with root-rotting fungi [57,60].  Trees in Alaska are very susceptible to decay, but elsewhere tend to contain little defect [76].  Most diseases can be identified by observing external signs [60].


SPECIES: Betula papyrifera
GENERAL BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS : Paper birch is a medium-sized, single- or multiple-stemmed, deciduous tree.  In forests it typically has a slender trunk with a narrow crown, but in openings it has a wider crown spreading out from near the base [24].  Multiple-stemmed trees are relatively common as a result of browsing by moose and snowshoe hares [21].  Throughout much of its range, mature trees are 70 to 80 feet (21-24 m) tall and 10 to 12 inches (25-30 cm) in trunk diameter, but sometimes grow up to 30 inches (75 cm) in diameter [31,57].  In Alaska, paper birch trees are commonly 20 to 60 feet (6-18 m) high and 4 to 12 inches (10-30 cm) in trunk diameter [66]. Paper birch is short-lived.  Height growth ceases at about 60 to 70 years of age; few trees live more than 140 years [24].  Paper birch is shallow-rooted with few roots found deeper than 24 inches (60 cm) below the soil surface [57].  The bark is reddish-brown on saplings.  On mature trees bark is thin, white, and smooth, often separating into papery strips, and is easily peeled off in sheets [24,66]. Male and female flowers occur in separate, pendulous catkins on the same tree [24].  Fruits are winged-nutlets 0.06 inch (1.5 mm) long by 0.03 inch (0.8 mm) wide [57]. RAUNKIAER LIFE FORM : Phanerophyte REGENERATION PROCESSES : Seed production:  Paper birch is a prolific seed producer.  Seed production begins at about age 15, with optimum production at 40 to 70 years of age [11].  Trees produce good seed crops about every other year.  Seed production over a 3-year period in Maine ranged from 2.4 to 9.8 million seeds/acre (5.9-24.2/ha) in a paper birch stand with 149 seed trees per acre (368/ha) [8].  In undisturbed paper birch stands in Alaska, seed production varied between 2.2 and 294 million seeds/acre (5.4-728 million/ha) [72]. Dispersal:  The small, double-winged seeds are dispersed primarily by wind.  Most seeds fall 100 to 200 feet (30-61 m) from the parent tree [43].  Seedfall at a clearcut edge was 60 percent of that within the uncut stand, and at 328 feet (100 m) into the cut seedfall was 10 percent of that within the stand [57].  Seed may travel great distances when blown across crusted snow [57].  Nearly all the seed (about 90 to 95 percent) is shed from September through November [51,57]. Seed quality and dormancy:  Discolored and empty seeds make up 14 to 47 percent of a crop [57].  Seed viability is highest during heavy seed crop years and lowest during light seed crop years.  In Maine, germination was 77 percent during a heavy seed year, but only 13 and 24 percent during 2 normal years [42].  Seeds dispersed early have lower germination rates than those dispersed later [8].  A small percentage of the seeds can remain viable on the forest floor for several years [51]. Germination and seedling establishment:  Germination normally takes place in the spring following dispersal.  Germination is generally best on disturbed mineral or mixed mineral-organic soil seedbeds [24,57]. The small seeds are sensitive to soil moisture and temperature.  Thus shade usually favors germination and initial establishment by preventing seedbeds from drying out and reaching excessively high temperatures [43].  South or southwest aspects, excessively drained soils, insufficient rainfall, competing vegetation, and unshaded and undisturbed seedbeds deter establishment [51].  Seedlings will not grow on soils with a pH less than 5.0 [51].  Although germination and early survival are often best on mineral soils, seedling growth is best on humus seedbeds in moderate or full sunlight [42].  First year seedlings are about 2 to 5 inches (5-12 cm) tall [51]. Vegetative reproduction:  Paper birch sprouts following cutting or fire. Sprouts typically arise from the stump base or root collar [74]. Prolific sprouting is common in young trees, with some individuals producing up to 100 sprouts [74].  Sprout growth is rapid, sometimes up to 24 inches (60 cm) in the first growing season [24].  Sprouting vigor decreases with age.  Forty to fifty percent of 100- to 125-year-old trees produced stump sprouts within 1 year after cutting, while 80 to 90 percent of 40- to 50-year-old trees produced sprouts [74]. SITE CHARACTERISTICS : Paper birch grows in climates ranging from boreal to humid and tolerates wide variations in the amount and pattern of precipitation [24].  It grows at the northern limit of tree growth in arctic Canada and Alaska, in boreal spruce woodlands and forests, in montane and subalpine forests of the West, in wooded draws of the northern Great Plains, and in coniferous, deciduous, and, mixed forests of the Northeast and Lake States [18].  It is shade-intolerant, and abundant on burned-over and cut-over lands where it often forms pure stands [31].  It is restricted to openings in older forests. Paper birch is most abundant on rolling upland terrain and alluvial sites but grows on almost any soil and topographic situation, including rugged mountain slopes, open slopes, rock slides, muskegs, and borders of bogs and swamps [21,24,57].  In interior Alaska, paper birch tends to dominate cool, moist, north and east aspects, while aspen dominates warmer and drier, south and west aspects [57].  In the mountains of New England and New York, paper birch is one of the few hardwoods found near timberline [76].  In North Dakota, it is mostly restricted to moist draws on north-facing slopes [9]. Soils:  Paper birch grows best on deep, well-drained to moderately well-drained, sandy or silty Spodosols, Inceptisols, and Entisols common on glacial deposits [24,57].  It grows on a wide range of soil textures from gravels to silts, and grows on organic bog and peat soils [24]. Associated trees:  In addition to those species listed under Habitat Types and Plant Communities, common associates include bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata), pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), yellow birch, gray birch (Betula populifolia), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), red maple (A. rubrum), and white ash (Fraxinus americana) in the southern and eastern part of its range, and red spruce (Picea rubens) and jack pine in boreal regions [76]. Understory:  Conifer seedlings and saplings are typical under mature paper birch stands.  Associated shrubs include American green alder (Alnus crispa), beaked hazel (Corylus cornuta), raspberries and blackberries (Rubus spp.), common bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), Bebb willow (Salix bebbiana), Scouler willow (S. scouleriana), highbush cranberry (Viburnum edule), Labrador-tea (Ledum groenlandicum), elder (Sambucus spp.), gooseberry (Ribes spp.), and dwarf bush-honeysuckle (Diervilla lonicera) [20,57,66].  In Alaska, Canada reedgrass (Calamagrostis canadensis) is prominent in paper birch stands, but other grasslike plants, sedges (Carex spp.), and lichens are principally absent [39].  In Labrador, lush herbs create a nearly continuous ground layer under paper birch stands [20]. SUCCESSIONAL STATUS : Paper birch is a short-lived, shade-intolerant, pioneer species.  It rapidly colonizes open disturbed sites created by wildfire, windthrow, or avalanche but lasts only one generation before it is replaced by shade-tolerant conifers or northern hardwoods.  Paper birch seeds-in aggressively after wildfire, often forming large, essentially pure stands [19,21,39].  Depending on the recovery of other species following fire, paper birch may also occur in mixed postfire stands with spruces, aspen, and other hardwoods [15,27,39]. Seral paper birch stands resulting from wildfire in Alaska commonly have 3,000 to 6,000 trees per acre (7,470-14,820/ha) 20 years after establishment [39].  By 60 to 90 years, stands have thinned to 500 to 800 trees per acre (1,235-1,976/ha) [19,39].  Seedbeds under these paper birch stand are unfavorable for germination of birch seed, but spruce seedlings are common.  By 120 to 150 years after fire, black or white spruce dominate [39,66]. In southeastern Labrador, paper birch seedling establishment begins promptly after fire and is restricted to the first 15 postfire years. At 40 to 50 years after fire conifer seedlings appear in the paper birch understory.  At 75 to 100 years, paper birch stands begin to deteriorate and are eventually replaced by conifers unless another fire initiates paper birch establishment [21]. In boreal mixed woods, paper birch begin dying by 75 years after fire. At this time jack pine, black spruce, and white spruce begin to dominate or codominate.  By 125 years most paper birch are dead [17]. In contrast to other boreal regions, paper birch persists in forests for more than 200 years in eastern Quebec.  This is probably due to spruce budworm outbreaks which cause white spruce to decline after about 200 years [5]. In the East, paper birch is commonly replaced by northern hardwoods on well-drained mineral soils, and by spruces and balsam fir on shallow or poorly drained soils [58].  In Minnesota, paper birch is often replaced by communities dominated by shrubs, particularly beaked hazel [58].  SEASONAL DEVELOPMENT : Paper birch male catkins are partially formed in the fall, remain dormant in the winter, and expand to a length of about 4 inches (10 cm) before flowering in the spring [43].  Female catkins appear in the spring before the leaves are fully expanded.  In the southern portion of its range flowering begins in April [24].  In Alaska flowering occurs in May and June [66].  Seed dispersal may begin as early as August, but most seed is dispersed from September throughout November [8]. Paper birch phenological events proceed as follows in northeastern Minnesota [2]:  Phenological event    Time bud burst               April leafing out             late April - early May flowering begins        April pollen shed             late April - May seedfall begins         August leaf color change       September leaf fall               late September - October


SPECIES: Betula papyrifera
FIRE ECOLOGY OR ADAPTATIONS : Adaptation to fire:  Paper birch is well adapted to fire, recovering quickly by means of seedling establishment and vegetative regeneration [1,39,67].  Seedling establishment is the most significant method of postfire recovery.  Paper birch is a prolific producer of lightweight seeds that are easily dispersed by wind and readily germinate on fire-prepared seedbeds.  Young trees sprout from the root collar following top-kill, but sprouting ability decreases after about 40 to 60 years of age [51]. Fire regime:  Throughout most of Alaska and Canada, paper birch is found in boreal spruce and mixedwood forest types that burn at 50 to 150 year intervals [17,29].  Fire behavior: As a forest type, paper birch stands are one of the least flammable.  The canopy often has a high moisture content and the understory is lush [21].  Crown fires in coniferous stands often stop at the boundary of large paper birch stands or become slow-moving ground fires [21,64].  As a result of this fire behavior, some large paper birch trees often survive fire in pure stands, and thus become seed trees for postfire establishment [51].  During dry periods, paper birch stands will burn readily. FIRE REGIMES : Find fire regime information for the plant communities in which this species may occur by entering the species name in the FEIS home page under "Find Fire Regimes". POSTFIRE REGENERATION STRATEGY :    survivor species; on-site surviving root crown or caudex    off-site colonizer; seed carried by wind; postfire years 1 and 2


SPECIES: Betula papyrifera
IMMEDIATE FIRE EFFECT ON PLANT : Fire generally kills or top-kills most paper birch trees; the thin, flammable bark makes the bole highly susceptible to girdling even by light surface fires [17,21,31].  Although the bark of older trees is thicker, it is also more flammable once it begins to exfoliate [39]. Paper birch seeds on the ground are destroyed by fire.  Summer fires do not necessarily consume the catkins, but immature seeds will not ripen on killed or top-killed trees [63].  DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF FIRE EFFECT : On the Chippewa National Forest in Minnesota, prescribed burning in mid-May in aspen slash top-killed all 4- to 15-inch-diameter (10-38 cm) paper birch trees.  These sprouted within a few weeks of the fire, but sprout mortality over the next few years resulted in 11 percent of the original trees dead by postfire year 5 [49]. Low-intensity prescribed surface fires (mean flame length > 1 foot [0.3 m], mean rate of spread of 10.8 feet [3.3 m] per minute) in a 30-year-old mixed hardwood stand in central Wisconsin did not kill or top-kill any paper birch trees greater than 4 inches (10 cm) in trunk diameter.  Most of the saplings less than 4 inches in trunk diameter, however, were top-killed [54]. On the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, 22 percent of paper birch trees were unaffected, while 78 percent had dead or partially dead aerial crowns 2 years after a light surface fire [69].  Forty-two percent of top-killed trees produced sprouts. Prescribed burning in a northern Wisconsin bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum)-grassland killed 31 percent of paper birch trees present. The rest were top-killed but later sprouted.  Basal area was reduced by 90 percent [68]. PLANT RESPONSE TO FIRE : Paper birch rapidly revegetates burned areas.  Sprouts, and seedlings if seed trees are nearby, appear within the first postfire year. Sprout production:  Young paper birch trees up to about 50 years old sprout prolifically and vigorously after fire.  Sprouts appear a few weeks to 2 months after spring or summer fires but not until the following spring after late fall fires [35,50,61].  They grow rapidly and are often 20 to 40 inches (50-100 cm) tall after one growing season [1,35].  In Minnesota, 5-year-old postfire paper birch sprouts averaged 10 feet (3 m) in height [50].  Following prescribed spring fires at 5-year intervals in Idaho, paper birch averaged 31 to 58 basal sprouts per plant after each fire [35]. Sprout mortality is high in the first 5 postfire years, leaving a few to several sprouts per clump [50]. Seedling establishment:  Mineral soils exposed by fire provide excellent paper birch seedbeds, but charred or partially removed organic layers prevent establishment.  In Alaska, germination and subsequent seedling survival of artificially sown paper birch seed was abundant, practically nil, and nil on severely, moderately, and lightly burned test plots, respectively [73]. Undamaged trees within a burn or trees in nearby unburned stands are necessary for postfire seedling establishment.  Where there are abundant seed trees, paper birch can easily establish 10's of thousands of seedlings per acre after fire [19,39,69].  In northern Saskatchewan, undamaged paper birch trees released 1 and 0.4 million seeds per acre (2.48 & 1 million/ha) in the first and second fall, respectively, following an April wildfire [4]. Because seed dispersal occurs in the fall, seedling establishment does not begin until the second postfire year [46].  Seedling establishment is generally greatest from postfire years 2 to 5 [3,46].  In Labrador, paper birch established by seed dated to within 15 years of fire, with subsequent seedling establishment lacking [21]. DISCUSSION AND QUALIFICATION OF PLANT RESPONSE : In white spruce forest types in interior Alaska, paper birch establishes thousands of seedlings and sprouts shortly after fire.  Sampling fire-origin paper birch stands in Alaska, Lutz [39] observed an average of 8,000 seedlings and saplings per acre (19,760/ha) 1 year after fire. Four years after fire, Foote [19] observed an average of 12,000 stems per acre (30,000/ha) of both seed and sprout origin that were 3 to 6 feet (1-2 m) tall.  Between 26 and 45 years after the fire, these thinned to a few thousand per acre. Three years after a prescribed light surface fire in south-central Alaska, on a site stocked primarily with white spruce and paper birch, there were about 8,000 and 1,000 paper birch seedlings and sprouts, respectively, per acre (19,760 and 2,470/ha) [69].  Seedlings averaged 6 inches (15 cm) and sprouts 14 inches (35 cm) in height. For information on prescribed fire and postfire responses of many plant species, including paper birch, see Hamilton's Research Papers (Hamilton 2006a, Hamilton 2006b) and these Research Project Summaries: FIRE MANAGEMENT CONSIDERATIONS : Prescribed fire can be used to prepare cut-over sites for paper birch seed regeneration.  In Maine, prescribed burning following winter logging favored paper birch establishment more than other treatments did.  Burning or disking following logging exposed mineral soils on more than 70 percent of the logged area, while logging alone during the summer or winter, resulted in only 5 percent mineral soil exposure. Fourteen seed trees per acre (35/ha) were left on each treatment site. Paper birch seedling establishment was as follows [78]: Treatment                Posttreatment year 1     Posttreatment year 10                           #/acre    #/ha           #/acre     #/ha winter logging/disked    245,400   605,200         3,300      8,200 winter logging/burned     50,100   123,700         4,800     11,900 summer logging only       65,700   162,300         1,700      4,200 winter logging only       33,700    83,200         1,900      4,700 Prescribed fire can be used to enhance deer and moose winter habitat by killing late successional conifers and promoting early successional browse species such as paper birch [69].  It generally takes 3 to 5 years after fire for paper birch sprout and seedling growth to provide adequate browse for deer and moose [57].  Peak browse production is generally between 10 and 16 years after fire [57].


SPECIES: Betula papyrifera
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