About 60 species of deciduous trees and shrubs. Bark on trunks is frequently white or shades of gray to pink and brown. Leaves are alternate, usually ovate, serrate, dentate or lobed. Flowers monoecious, male catkins are long and cylindrical, well developed in fall, lengthen and release pollen in spring; the smaller female catkins are on shorter side shoots. Seeds mostly 3 per catkin scale, falling with scales in early fall. Found in the North temperate and arctic regions.
Betula: the Latin name. (Bundles of thin branches, common in Betula, were used as a whip for punishment, known as "the birch"!)
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