What it looks like

The yellow birch is a medium-sized tree — the largest of the birches that are native to Ontario. It has thin, shiny, reddish-brown bark when young, becoming dull yellow with age, and darkening to bronze-coloured when mature. It grows slowly and lives about 150 years. Yellow birch trees have deep yellowish-green leaves, oval and usually between eight and 11 centimetres long. Its flowers are "catkins" — slim green and brown cylinders that are formed in late summer and stay on the tree all winter, shedding pollen in the spring.

Where it is found

The yellow birch grows across southern and central Ontario and into northern parts of the province.

Planting Tips

  • Size: Up to 25 metres tall
  • Moisture: Prefers moist soil
  • Shade: Moderately shade-tolerant
  • Soil: Prefers rich soil

Fertilize yellow birch trees only when they show signs of poor health, such as discoloured leaves or slowed growth.

Did you know?

Although yellow birch does turn yellow in the fall, the tree gets its name from its bark, which is a golden yellow for much of its life.

Image credits

  • Tree: Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Forest Service
  • Leaf: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Bark: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
  • Catkins: Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources