Back to Species Guide

Depending on the species, Birch sapwood appears light, with a cream-like or white color. The heartwood may be light reddish-brown or dark brown tinged with red. The close, straight grain is finely textured and uniform in appearance, with the grain more prominent in Yellow Birch than Paper Birch. On occasion, some Birch species will present a curly grain.

Formal Name: Betula Alleghaniensis, Betula Lentu

Other Names: Yellow Birch, Sweet Birch

Region

Birch grows throughout the northeastern United States and is the state tree of New Hampshire. It also thrives in the Great Lakes area, including lake areas in southern Canada. Yellow and Sweet Birch can be found in the Appalachians, extending into areas of northern Georgia. Availability is limited to some extent.

Working Properties

Generally, Birch is a lightweight, relatively hard wood with good shock resistance, although Yellow Birch is harder and comparable in weight to Oak. Birch is comparable to Ash in toughness, with better strength properties. The wood can be worked well with most hand and power tools, with moderate blunting effects. Sweet Birch and Yellow Birch are more difficult to tool by hand, but can be machined well. The smooth Birch grain takes stain extremely well and also provides an excellent surface for enameling and paint.

Main Uses

Birch is a popular hardwood for furniture, furniture frames, decorative woodwork, cabinets and paneling. Birch veneers are extremely popular for high-grade plywood.