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Betula (papyrifera)

Tara Luna
USDI NPS - Glacier National Park
West Glacier, Montana 59936
(406) 888-7835

Family Scientific Name: Betulaceae
Family Common Name: Birch Family
Scientific Name: Betula papyrifera Marsh.
Common Synonym: Betula alba papyrifera
Common Name: Paper birch
Species Code: BETPAP
Ecotype: Lake margin, Lake McDonald, 1000m elev.Glacier National Park, Flathead Co., MT.
General Distribution: B. papyrifera occurs from Alaska south, mostly east of the Cascades, east to Atlantic coast, south to Idaho, Montana, Colorado, Iowa, Illinois, North Carolina.
It is a well known tree of northern forests and is imporatnt in fire succession.
Propagation Goal: plants
Propagation Method: seed
ProductType: Container (plug)
Stock Type: 172 ml conetainer
Time To Grow: 8 Months
Target Specifications: Height: 25 cm<br> Caliper: 8 mm<br> Root System: Firm plug in container
Propagule Collection: Paper birch is a prolific seed producer. Good seed crops occur every 2 to 3 years. Trees begin bearing seed at age 15, with optimum seed production at age 40 to 70 years. Most seeds are shed from September to November. Seeds are collected in late September to October when catkins have turned papery but are still somewhat green and holding together. Catkin bearing branches are cut using a pole pruner and seeds are collected using a canvas tarp spread out beneath the tree to catch cut branches. Seeds are swept into paper bags and kept in a drying shed prior to cleaning.
Propagule Processing: Seeds are extracted by tumbling chaff and catkins, and running them through a series of screens. It is difficult to separate empty seeds from sound seeds.
Seed Storage: 1 year at 1 to 3C in sealed containers.
Seed dormancy is classified as non deep physiological dormancy.
Seeds/Kg: 1,000,000/kg
% Purity: 100%
% Germination: 47 to 87% using fresh seeds.
Pre-Planting Treatments: Seeds are placed into a 24 hour water soak, followed by a 60 day cold, moist stratification.
Seeds are placed in fin mesh bags, buried in moistened milled sphagnum peat moss, and placed in the refrigerator at 1 to 3 C.
Growing Area Preparation/
Annual Practices for Perennial Crops:
Greenhouse and outdoor nursery. Greenhouse temperatures are maintained at 21 to 25 C day and 15 to 18 C night.
Sowing Method: Direct Seeding. Seeds are surface sown for the light requirement.
Growing medium used is 6:1:1 milled spaghnum peat, perlite, and vermiculite with Osmocote controlled release fertilizer (13N:13P2O5:13K2O; 8 to 9 month release rate at 21C) and Micromax fertilizer (12%S, 0.1%B, 0.5%Cu, 12%Fe, 2.5%Mn, 0.05%Mo, 1%Zn) at the rate of 1 gram of Osmocote and 0.20 gram of Micromax per 172 ml conetainer.
Establishment Phase: Germination is uniform and is usually complete in 3 weeks. True leaves appear 2 weeks after germination. Seedlings are thinned at this stage.
Length of Establishment Phase: 4 weeks
Active Growth Phase: Seedlings grow at a rapid rate after establishment. Plants are fertilized with 20-20-20 liquid NPK at 100 ppm during the growing season. Plants average 9 cm in height and 5 mm caliper in 4 months. Plants can be uppotted into 3L (1 gallon) containers 16 weeks after germination, and be these are root tight in 1.5 years.
Length of Active Growth Phase: 16 weeks
Hardening Phase: Plants are fertilized with 10-20-20 liquid NPK at 200 ppm in the fall, pots are leached with clear water, one final irrigation is applied before overwintering.
Length of Hardening Phase: 4 weeks
Harvesting, Storage and Shipping: Total Time To Harvest:8 months
Harvest Date: September
Storage Conditions: Overwinter in outdoor nursery under insulating foam cover and snow.
Length of Storage: 5 months
Other Comments: Vegetative Propagation Method: Pre-Rooting
Type of Cutting: Summer semi-hardwood cuttings. Timing is critical with paper birch cuttings. Cuttings are taken during active growth with the stem base just becoming firm but before the terminal bud has developed on the stem. Cuttings are 10 to 20 cm long with a long shallow wound at the base. Cuttings treated with 8000 ppm IBA talc under mist and bottom heat have high rooting percentages.
References: Flora of the Pacific Northwest, Hitchcock and Cronquist, University of Washington Press, 7th printing, 1981.
Seeds of the Woody Plants in the United States, Agriculture Handbook No. 450, U.S.F.S., Washington D.C., 1974.
Seeds of Woody Plants in North America, Young and Young, Dioscorides Press, 1992.
Seed Germination Theory and Practice, 2nd Edition, Deno, N., published June,1993.
Glacier Park Native Plant Nursery Propagation Records, unpublished.
The Reference Manual of Woody Plant Propagation, Dirr and Heuser, Varsity Press, 1987.


Luna, Tara; Evans, Jeff; Wick, Dale. 2008. Propagation protocol for production of Container (plug) Betula papyrifera Marsh. plants 172 ml conetainer; USDI NPS - Glacier National Park West Glacier, Montana. In: Native Plant Network. URL: http://NativePlantNetwork.org (accessed 2021/03/01). US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, National Center for Reforestation, Nurseries, and Genetic Resources.

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