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Gray Birch vs Paper Birch

Gray and paper birch are easily confused as both have white bark, and they often grow together in the same habitat. However, they can be easily distinguished by bark texture or leaf shape.

Gray Birch (Betula populifolia)

Paper Birch (Betula papyrifera)

A fast-growing, short-lived tree native to northeastern North America; mostly a pioneer species.
A birch native to North America with a northerly distribution; occurring farther south only at higher elevations, and when planted as a landscaping plant.
Bark does not peel; outside of bark often looks "dirty" due to numerous black flecks and wider horizontal dark strips.
Photo © Patrick Leary, CC BY 4.0.
Bark peels into thin, papery sheets. Outside of bark looks "cleaner" due to narrower horizontal dark strips and having fewer dark flecks.
Photo © Charlie Hohn, CC BY 4.0.
Triangular leaves. Doubly-serrate pattern on leaf margins often more pronounced. Long point at tip.
Photo © Christian Grenier, Public Domain.
More oval-shaped leaves, not as flat at the base, and wider in the middle. Shorter point at tip.
Photo © aarongunnar, CC BY 4.0.
Male catkins usually borne singly or occasionally in pairs.
Photo © Even Dankowicz, CC BY 4.0.
Male catkins usually borne in units of 2-4.
Photo © Rob Foster, CC BY 4.0.