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Betulaceae -- Birch family
L. 0. Safford, John C. Bjorkbom, and John C. Zasada
Typical paper birch (Betula papyrifera var. papyrifera), also called white birch, canoe birch, or silver birch, and the other five intergrading geographical varieties, western paper birch (B. papyrifera var. commutata (Regel) Fern.), mountain paper birch (B. papyrifera var. cordifolia (Regel) Fern.), Kenai birch (B. papyrifera var. kenaica (W. H. Evans) Henry), Alaska paper birch (B. papyrifera var. neoalaskana (Sarg.) Raup), and northwestern paper birch (B. papyrifera var. subcordata (Rydb.) Sarg.) are the most widely distributed birches in North America, mostly in Canada. These medium-sized, fast-growing trees develop best on well-drained, sandy loams on cool moist sites. They are commonly found in the mixed hardwood-conifer forests but may form nearly pure stands where they pioneer areas disturbed by fires or logging. Paper birch is short-lived and rarely lives more than 140 years. Commercially the lumber is used for veneer, pulpwood, and many specialty items. The handsome foliage and showy white bark make the trees attractive for landscaping. They are important browse plants for animals, and the seeds, buds, and bark are also eaten by wildlife.