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Thread: Birch VS Aspen - How to tell difference

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    Default Birch VS Aspen - How to tell difference

    I can't seem to find a good guide to telling the difference based on the bark. Anybody have a comprehensive guide?

    And also, for those who have seen Ray Mears's birch tapping video, that bark sure doesn't look smooth like any birch I've seen. What gives?

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    YouTube - ‪Ray Mears: Bushcraft - Four Seasons (1 of 6)‬‏

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    Mears is British.

    They not only sound intelligent, they ARE vastly more intelligent than we in the states.

    So it stands to reason that if Mears points at a tree and says it's a birch, well then, who are we to argue? Even if it's an Elm?

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    I see birch like that all the time over here in england, i think that the green colour is lichen. But also the bark gets thick and brown in places. Its definately birch, but i can give no reason as to why it looks like that. Im sure someone more knowledgable will come along.

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    Guide Bush Class Intermediate Certified Howie's Avatar
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    Aspen have the tell tale "knots" over them through the bark

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    Most birch bark I've found will be smooth and peeling off the tree.
    There are lots of species of birch, so it might help to find out which are common in your area.
    I've only come across white aspen here, but the larger trees have furrowed, dark bark at the base, transitioning to smooth grey bark near the top.
    Something I've found helpful this time of year is to make a tree ID based on the leaves and then study the bark. There really aren't too many good sources for bark ID, even though it's really important in the winter.

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    Reminds me of when I took a forestry class in college at Lake Superior. We started learning our trees in September and didn't test on them till the final in December. Leaves weren't of much value then. Everything deciduous was by bark, stems, buds and leaf scar.

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    The bark on an aspen feels a bit wax-like.

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    DISCLAIMER: I know next to nothing about trees and plant ID so take this for what it's worth, and for those who are more knowledgeable please correct me if I'm wrong on any points

    Quote Originally Posted by BUSHscandi View Post
    I see birch like that all the time over here in england, i think that the green colour is lichen. But also the bark gets thick and brown in places. Its definately birch, but i can give no reason as to why it looks like that. Im sure someone more knowledgable will come along.
    I've seen birch that look like that even around here in New Jersey, doesn't seem odd looking for a birch to me. I've seen birches that range from that to bright white, smooth and papery.

    Maybe some of this info will help:

    http://www.ehow.com/about_6368798_di...pen-trees.html
    http://www.gardenguides.com/108324-d...spen-tree.html

    The second link seems particularly useful. Regarding the bark it says:

    Birch tree bark is marked with horizontal lenticels, or cellular clumps that act as pores on the tree. The color of the bark may be gray, grayish white, grayish red or grayish black.
    We don't have Aspen around here but I've seen them out west before. My understanding is that Aspen bark does not have lenticels (the horizontal lines in the bark) like birch, and the two trees have different leaf shapes.

    -Jay
    "It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy." --Kephart

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    Default Tree ID fact sheets

    Here are links to a couple tree ID fact sheets that may help-

    Paper birch-
    http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology...heet.cfm?ID=14

    Quaking aspen-
    http://dendro.cnre.vt.edu/dendrology...eet.cfm?ID=160

    Depending on where you live, there may be other related species growing.

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    Default Of leaves and lenticels

    Quote Originally Posted by jloden View Post
    DISCLAIMER:
    http://www.gardenguides.com/108324-d...spen-tree.html

    The second link seems particularly useful. Regarding the bark it says:

    .... and the two trees have different leaf shapes.

    -Jay
    That link is fairly definitive. Just glancing at a grove of either can be confusing.

    Paper Birch:



    Quaking Aspen:


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