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Black birch or beech?

Discussion in 'Tree and Plant ID Database' started by bocephus223, Feb 15, 2015.

  1. bocephus223

    bocephus223 Guide

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    Does anyone have a sure fire way to tell the difference between black birch and beech trees? I have three in my yard that are 12' tall, about 5" in diameter and match all pictures of black birch AND beech I have seen. I am new to tree identification, so this may be an easy one for you all, but I'm stumped. No pictures of the leaves right now. Thanks guys.
     
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  2. the_dude

    the_dude Supporter Supporter

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    got a picture of the bark? they don't really look similar, even as juvenile specimen.

    black birch will have very short horizontal stripes on the bark, the bark will be reddish brown.

    beech has smooth grey bark. no horizontal stripes.
     
  3. Easy_rider75

    Easy_rider75 Bushwhacker

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    Also if you have a small fresh piece from the tree and it has a wintergreen smell it's black birch. What part of the country are you in? A pic would definitely help
     
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  4. Adahy

    Adahy Kuksaholic

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    Beech bark resembles elephant skin. Black birch will have lenticels which are horizontal lines and the bark is shiny.
    Scratch up the bark or bend a twig, if it's wintergreen it's birch.
     
  5. bocephus223

    bocephus223 Guide

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    Thanks for the quick replies everyone. I live in Northern (mostly central, kinda easterly, foothills of the Sierra) california. I'm starting to think I have neither of the trees I thought. It doesn't smell like wintergreen, and the bark isn't like elephant skin at all.

    Here are some crappy nighttime pics.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  6. Easy_rider75

    Easy_rider75 Bushwhacker

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    Yep neither birch or beech. Not sure what it is myself but can for sure say what it isn't
     
  7. the_dude

    the_dude Supporter Supporter

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    that could be so many different trees. have you lived there long enough to see it with foliage and/or fruit/seeds?
     
  8. the_dude

    the_dude Supporter Supporter

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    my initial thought when seeing your pictures was either Bradford pear, or some other ornamental fruit tree.
     
  9. bocephus223

    bocephus223 Guide

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    I've been here for two seasons, and haven't seen any fruit. The leaves look exactly like birch leaves, and beech leaves. Is there any other info that would help other than pictures? I made some cordage from the bark recently, and there was a clear snot like fluid dripping from the bark when I got it wet. It is a fairly hard wood.
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2015
  10. Easy_rider75

    Easy_rider75 Bushwhacker

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    It may seem like it but I have beech out in my back woods next to my house the bark is nothing like it beech is smooth this you're showing is to rough for it. If you have any of the leaves take a picture of them. As Adahy said scratch the bark it would smell of wintergreen. But beech I'd almost certainly bet it's not beech.
     
  11. rwfred

    rwfred Hobbyist Hobbyist

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    I bet the edges of the leaves are serrated and it has pink flowers in the spring and drooping limbs on the top.
     
  12. Slib

    Slib Tracker

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    Take a look at the very base of the leaves, right where the stem meets the leaf. If there are two little bumps (looking like little plant zits) then the tree is a cherry of some sort. All cherries have this feature.
     
  13. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    At that size and those pictures it could be anything from Locust to Cherry and anything in between ;p Could we get some structural pictures? It will be a lot easier to ID in a couple more months ;p

    Just saw your post about the leaves, I'd start looking at cherries. The reason I say that is if it is near the edge of the woods or in a random area of the yard where it didn't get planted purposefully most fruit trees other than cherries are out (or else you'd see the parent tree not too far off). Birds love to spread cherry seeds... by pooping on your property.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
  14. bocephus223

    bocephus223 Guide

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    Here are a couple more pictures.

    [​IMG]

    These are little buds I haven't noticed before.

    [​IMG]
     
  15. Vanitas

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    that almost looks like mulberry
     
  16. Gunns357

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    My guess is Siberian Elm.
     
  17. Vanitas

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    IT HAS A LEAF!!!!! lol a lonely tiny leaf. or at least from that picture it looks like it.
     
  18. Hook&Horn

    Hook&Horn Tracker Bushclass I

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    That tree appears to have been pruned repeatedly which has changed its natural shape. I believe birch and beech leaves to be very different in appearance. If this tree has leaves closer to a beech leaf, I would say it's a wheeping cherry tree. Good luck with the ID
     
  19. aktrekker

    aktrekker Guide

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    A closeup of the leaf please.

    And besides cherry don't rule out some type of apple. I have some ornamental apples that have similar bark.
     
  20. bocephus223

    bocephus223 Guide

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    Thanks Vanitas for pointing out that leaf! Somehow I missed it. It has been pruned a lot, my homeowners insurance does not tolerate trees touching the roof or any part of it.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Thanks everyone.
     
  21. EvBlue

    EvBlue Tracker

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    It's some type of fruit tree, whether an edible variety or not.
     
  22. Sharp_canadian

    Sharp_canadian Out There! Supporter

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    Bark sort of looks like a plum tree but the branches leave me puzzled. Odd place for planting a fruiting tree though, so close to the house. You got me.
     
  23. Easy_rider75

    Easy_rider75 Bushwhacker

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    Thought the same after just seeing this pic that woulda been a take down for me not prune it. The leaves it's neither birch or beech that I can close to definitely say. It could be a fruit tee though
     
  24. CSMMIKE

    CSMMIKE Guide

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    I have several trees just like this in my yard. They are very fast growing and develop thin, drooping, branches that are a constant annoyance and have to be trimmed. I am pretty sure it is a Siberian Elm.
     
  25. aktrekker

    aktrekker Guide

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    Hard to tell from the leaves. They're new growth and won't look quite the same as mature foliage.
    I don't think it's a fruit tree. The leaves tend to not be serrated on the bottom 1/3 of the leaf. These leaves are serrated all the way to the base. It has the buds on the branches during winter. It could be Siberian Elm, but it's a pretty young one (or just stunted due to constant pruning).
    Wait for spring and see if it produces samaras. They'll probably appear before leaves.
    The samaras are edible, Samuel Thayer considers them gourmet. After the samaras ripen and turn brown you can collect the seeds and eat them.
     
  26. edibleplantguy

    edibleplantguy Scout

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    Greetings All,

    I think that bocephus223's photos pretty well make the claim for his mystery tree being an elm. The buds near the top of this page are its flowers and the (alternate) leaves and branching style certainly back that up. If it is a Siberian elm, besides a food use as mentioned above, the inner bark makes outstanding cordage; I have even used it in survival class teaching for just such a purpose. This is a fast growing invasive however, so bocephus223, if that is your house it is growing a foot or so from, my counsel would be to remove it soon (while it is easy) before it starts tailoring your foundations to its own purposes.

    Thanks for reading.

    edibleplantguy
     
  27. Gii shi kan dug

    Gii shi kan dug Supporter Supporter

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    The tree in this pic is not the same bark as what was shown in an earlier post. This pic looks like an elm, but the first pic with the horizonal lenticles looked like some typeof cherry.
     
  28. the_dude

    the_dude Supporter Supporter

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    I think the picture in the earlier post was of one of the limbs of the same tree. immature bark vs maturing bark.
     
  29. Doubles

    Doubles BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend

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    The bark looks very similar to several Chinese Elms I have. Regardless, it's an ugly specimen of a tree and ripe for removal being that close to a dwelling.
     
  30. sweeper54

    sweeper54 Scout

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    edit:
    post deleted after seeing the pic on the second page
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2015
  31. Doubles

    Doubles BCUSA Friend Bushcraft Friend

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    I TOLD ya it was ugly....lol
     
  32. Flint_2016

    Flint_2016 Guide

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    American Beech which is common has smooth gray bark,and there are groups of them growing together at times.
    junehike (11).JPG
     
  33. Togus

    Togus Supporter Supporter

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    The beech in my region has smooth grey/silvery bark. The beech leaves are also very distinguishable.

    IMG_1685.PNG
     

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