Yellow birch, an Illinois native, has a silvery bronze bark that peels into small strips. Fall color is yellow. This species shows some resistance to bronze birch borer. It is also known as Betula lutea.
This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.
All Common Names:
- Residential and parks
Tree or Plant Type:
- Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Shade tree,
- Large tree (more than 40 feet)
- Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily),
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
- Zone 3,
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7
- Acid soil,
- Moist, well-drained soil
- Wet sites,
- Alkaline soil
- May be difficult to find in nurseries
- Spring blossoms,
- Fall color,
- Attractive bark
Season of Interest:
- Early winter,
- Mid winter,
- Late winter,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall,
- Late fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
- Game birds,
- Insect pollinators,
- Small mammals,
Tree & Plant Care
Grows well over a range of soil pH from acid to alkaline.
Performs best in areas where summers are cool.
Disease, pests, and problems
Leaf spots and cankers can occur.
Birch leaf miners and birch skeletonizer are insects that can attack this tree.
Disease, pest, and problem resistance
Shows some resistance to the bronze birch borer.
Tolerant of black walnut toxicity.
Native geographic location and habitat
This species is native to more northern climates (the Chicago region is in the southern edge of this tree's range in the Midwest).
It is often found in moist sites and on cool slopes.
Bark color and texture
This birch species has a darker bark than many others.
The bark is reddish brown to bronze and marked with long, horizontal lenticels. Bark is slightly peeling.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Leaves are simple and alternate, with an ovate shape.
Each leaf is 3 to 5 inches long, with a doubly-toothed margin.
Fall color is yellow.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Separate male and female flowers on the same tree (monoecious).
Male flowers are tiny and held in hanging catkins; female flowers held in upright catkins.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Fruits are small winged seeds packed together into an upright structure that will shatter in winter.