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Betulaceae: Birch Family Plant Identification Characteristics.

Betulaceae
Plants of the Birch Family

      The Birch family includes deciduous trees and shrubs with simple, toothed, alternate leaves, with neatly pinnate veins. Male and female catkins form separately on the same bush (monoecious). Staminate (male) catkins have small flowers with either 0 or 4 sepals, 0 petals and 2 to 20 stamens. Pistillate (female) catkins also have numerous small flowers, each with 0 sepals and 0 petals. The catkins include bracts (modified leaves) that may be mistaken for sepals. The ovary is positioned inferior (some cannot be determined) and consists of 2 united carpels (bicarpellate) forming a single chamber. It matures as a nut or a winged seed.

      Worldwide, there are 6 genera and approximately 150 species in this family, including filberts (also called hazelnuts) of the genus Corylus, which produce edible nuts. Members of the Birch family contain varying amounts of tannic acid, making them somewhat astringent and diuretic. North American genera are listed below.

Key Words: Trees or shrubs with cone-like catkins or nuts with attached bracts.

Please e-mail Thomas J. Elpel to report mistakes or to inquire about purchasing high resolution photos of these plants.


Alnus incana. Mountain Alder.

Alnus incana. Mountain Alder.

Alnus incana. Mountain Alder.

Alnus incana. Mountain Alder.

Alnus viridis. Alder.

Alnus viridis. Alder.

Betula occidentalis. Water Birch or Red Birch.

Betula occidentalis. Water Birch / Red Birch.

Corylus cornuta. Beaked Hazelnut.

Corylus cornuta. Beaked Hazelnut. Photographed near Kettle Falls, Washington.

 Corylus cornuta. Beaked Hazelnut.

Corylus cornuta. Beaked Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus americana. American Hazelnut.

Corylus maxima. Filbert.

Corylus maxima. Filbert.

There are more
Birch Family pictures
at PlantSystematics.org.


Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
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Roadmap to Reality: Consciousness, Worldviews, andthe Blossoming of Human Spirit
Roadmap
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Living Homes: Stone Masonry, Log, and Strawbale Construction
Living
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Participating in Nature: Wilderness Survival and Primitive Living Skills.
Participating
in Nature
Foraging the Mountain West: Gourmet Edible Plants, Mushrooms, and Meat.
Foraging the
Mountain West
Botany in a Day: The Patterns Method of Plant Identification
Botany
in a Day
Shanleya's Quest: A Botany Adventure for Kids
Shanleya's
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