Yellow Birch : Physical Description

The yellow birch has very distinctive qualities. They tend to range from around forty to seventy feet tall. However, they can grow up to hundred feet(30meters). The largest tree on record, located near Gould City, Michigan, is 114 feet tall and has a diameter roughly around 56 inches. Yellow birches are actually one of the slowest growing hardwoods of the North . In certain environmental conditions, the tree’s diameter will only grow an inch in ten years. Their slow growth does not prevent them from reaching high heights because most yellow birches will live to over three hundred years old. 

The bark of this beautiful tree is lustrous, smooth (compared to other types of tree bark), and has a paper-like quality. At first glance, the yellow birch will seem to have a shaggy appearance due to the peeling away of its paper-like bark. The bark is very flammable and will still burn if wet (so if you want to start a fire in the rain, look for yellow birch bark!). In younger trees, the bark is usually a reddish brown, and once they grow older the color changes to a shade of tan, yellow, or gray. The yellowish-bronze bark is the most distinctive feature of the yellow birch when trying to distinguish from different birches. 

The yellow birch is a deciduous tree, which means the leaves will fall off before winter. The leaves are alternate and have a narrow ovate shape. Their edges are serrated and the veins of the leaf are alternate as well. The size of the leaves range from three to five inches. In comparison to the color of the top of the leaf, the bottom is a paler green.  Before the leaves fall in preparation for winter, they will change to a beautiful yellow color shown in some of the pictures above.