Paper birch on Mount Mitchell- Native???

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Will Blozan
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Paper birch on Mount Mitchell- Native???

Post by Will Blozan » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:49 pm


I found a scattering of paper birch on Mount Mitchell; does anyone know if they are native? Other exotics occur there; Nordman fir, Norway spruce, Scots pine, etc. so maybe it is introduced.
White birch 1.jpg
White birch 2.jpg

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Re: Paper birch on Mount Mitchell- Native???

Post by edfrank » Sat Jun 16, 2012 6:55 pm


That is an interesting question. The online version of the USDA Silvics manual says: ... rifera.htm
Paper birch also extends down the Appalachian Mountains from central New York to western North Carolina (46,58,97,112).
I tried to see if it was listed in any of the books about North Carolina trees from the late 1800's. Hale and Curtis (1883) mention paper birch, but do not say that it is found in the state:
The Woods and Timbers of North Carolina (1883) by Hale, Peter M and Curtis, M. A., page 121

3. Yellow Birch. (B. excelsa. Ait.)—This is a northern tree, as south of the mountains of New York, with the exception of small patches in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and the three or four stocks which I found near the (highest) summit of Black Mountain, it is unknown. Its yellowish-silvery bark, scaling off in thin sheets, like that of the Paper or Canoe Birch will at once distinguish this from the two preceding. It is about 25 feet high. The timber is rather inferior to that of Black Birch. It is a handsome tree, and its twigs slightly aromatic.
Pinchot and Ashe (1897) do not mention paper birch at all but do list yellow birch, black birch, and river birch.
Timber trees and forests of North Carolina (1897) by Pinchot, G. and Ashe, W. W.
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Re: Paper birch on Mount Mitchell- Native???

Post by jamesrobertsmith » Sat Jun 16, 2012 7:47 pm

They're all around the higher ridges (at or above 5,000 feet) at Grayson Highlands in southwest Virginia. I'm betting they're naturally occurring there.

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Larry Tucei
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Re: Paper birch on Mount Mitchell- Native???

Post by Larry Tucei » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:04 am

Will, Interesting find. I've also wondered just what species of trees were native and where they would have grown. Since the Forests of long ago have change many times from geological events and most recently by mans recklessness. I wonder just what the heck really is native? Larry

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Jess Riddle
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Re: Paper birch on Mount Mitchell- Native???

Post by Jess Riddle » Sun Jun 24, 2012 8:22 pm


I remember Josh telling me that he ran into paper birch on landslide scars in the Blacks. Based on that, I'd say the trees you saw are likely native.


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James Parton
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Re: Paper birch on Mount Mitchell- Native???

Post by James Parton » Thu Jun 28, 2012 11:30 am

Interesting. I would guess native.
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Re: Paper birch on Mount Mitchell- Native???

Post by bbeduhn » Fri Nov 02, 2012 12:26 pm

Will Cook doesn't say for certain but but it sounds like he assumes them to be native.

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Re: Paper birch on Mount Mitchell- Native???

Post by EmoryRiver » Wed Jan 30, 2013 10:55 pm


I read an old Smokies manuscript by Arthur Stupka 1930's, that mentioned finding a gray/paper birch in the Smokies. Other than that I haven't heard of paper birch being recorded in the area. Awesome and great find! Thats is my two cents. I vote native and vestigial!


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