Vermont Atlas of Life Map of the Week: Paper Birches

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Distribution of paper birch species in Vermont based on data from iNaturalist Vermont.

Distribution of paper birch species in Vermont based on data from iNaturalist Vermont.

With the leaves dropping fast, the intricate peeling bark of birch trees becomes more noticeable. Many people don’t realize that we have two types of paper birch in Vermont, Paper or White Birch (Betula papyrifera) and Heart-leaved Paper Birch (B. cordifolia), once considered a variety of Paper Birch. As its name suggests, Heart-leaved Paper Birch has distinctive heart-shaped, many-veined leaves, a pinkish bark, and is restricted to higher elevations. We actually don’t have good data on the range of these two species in Vermont. How low in elevation does heart-leaved go? How high does paper birch climb into the mountains? Do they overlap widely in some areas? What will happen with climate change? Observers adding records to iNaturalist Vermont, a project of the Vermont Atlas of Life, are helping map each species. We hope you will add your observation too!

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