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Native Plant Trust: Go Botany Discover thousands of New England plants

Family: Betulaceae — birch family

Birches are trees or shrubs with alternate, deciduous leaves that have serrated edges and straight, branched veins. The leaf blades often have double-toothed margins (with big teeth with little teeth on them). A single plant has both pollen-bearing and ovule-bearing flowers in separate cylindrical inflorescences called aments (also known as catkins). The aments hosting pollen-bearing flowers are longer and more slender than those hosting ovule-bearing flowers. The aments are comprised of scales, with each scale subtending 1-3 flowers. The petals and sepals are absent or very small. The pollen-bearing flowers have 2-10 stamens with short filaments. The ovule-bearing flowers have 2 styles. The fruit is a nut or a small samara (i.e., a winged achene).

This family’s genera in New England

Visit this family in the Dichotomous Key