Content Detail

Bog birch is a medium-sized, short-lived, clump-forming shrub for wet habitats. It is common in the upper Midwest, although it may be difficult to find in the nursery trade.

This species is native to the Chicago region according to Swink and Wilhelm’s Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research.

  • Family (English) Birch
  • Family (botanic) Betulaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Native locale Chicago area, Illinois, North America
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Medium shrub (5-8 feet)
  • Light exposure Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5 (Chicago), Zone 6
  • Soil preference Alkaline soil, Wet soil
  • Tolerances Alkaline soil, Clay soil, Occasional flooding, Road salt, Wet sites
  • Season of interest early fall, early winter, late spring, late winter, mid fall, midwinter
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Mounded, Multi-stemmed, Open, Thicket-forming, Upright
  • Growth rate Moderate

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is found in wet, swampy, marsh and bogs in the northern Midwest. It has a C-Value: 10

Bark color and texture:

Young bark is thin, reddish brown with warty lenticels. Older bark becomes dark gray and peels with age.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Bog birch has alternate, fleshy, one and half to two inch oval to ovate leaf, with coarsely toothed margins. Leaves are medium green that turn yellow in the fall.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

It has cylindrical female catkins that are reddish color and male catkins along the same stems are yellow.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

This shrub has upright, cone-like, and winged seeds.

Attracts birds, pollinators, or wildlife:

Numerous birds favor bog birch seeds in late fall.

Plant care:

Bog birch is a colony-forming shrub of bogs and lake borders. It must be planted in moist to wet areas with full sun. This shrub prefers alkaline soil, but it will tolerate some acidity. It has a shallow fibrous root system that makes bog birch difficult to transplant. This shrub is relatively short-lived. It is difficult to find in nurseries.

List of pests and diseases:

Occasional leaf spots, cankers, rust and mildew, birch leaf miner, aphids, and bronze birch borer are problems with this shrub.


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