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collage of Gray Birch and European White Birch

Gray Birch (Betula populifolia) vs. European White Birch (Betula pendula)

Updated July 25th, 2020

These two species are often confused where their ranges overlap, as both have white bark that does not peel excessively, and both have doubly-serrate triangular leaves. Gray birch is common in the wild and occasionally used in landscaping; European white birch is common in landscaping and occasionally escapes into the wild. These species can usually be easily distinguished by differences in bark, catkins, leaf shape, and growth habit. However, both species can hybridize with other, similar-looking birches, complicating ID.

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