Betulaceae : Birch Family

Betulaceae Taxonomy

Scientific Name:

Kingdom: Plantae


Class: Dicotyledonae (two seed-leaves)

Family: Betulaceae

(Latin - Ancient name for birch probably derived from Sanskrit 'bhurga', a tree whose bark is used for writing upon. Also connected to Celtic 'betu', meaning tree.)

Genera: 2

Species: 5

Alnus crispa (Green Alder)

Alnus incana (Gray Alder)

Betula glandulosa (Dwarf Birch)

Betula occidentalis (Water Birch)

Betula papyfifera (Paper Birch)

English Name(s):

Birch Family

Betulaceae Traits


Natural History:

  • Rely on wind for both pollination and seed dispersal.

Family Size:


Genera: 6

Species: 150

North America:

Genera: 5



Genera: 2

Species: 6-9 (depending on taxonomy used)

Betulaceae Genera

Alnus (Alder)

  • Shrubs or small trees
  • Bark reddish or greyish brown
  • Female catkins woody and persistent
  • Stamens 4

World= 30

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 2-3 (depending on taxonomy used)

Betula (Birch)

  • Shrubs or trees
  • Branchlets often dotted with wart-like glands
  • Female catkins deciduous
  • All our species can and do hybridize.

World= 40

N.A.= ?

Yukon= 4-6 (depending on taxonomy used)

Central Yukon= 3

Illustrated Key To Betulaceae Species

Note: Move cursor over image for note on what to look for. Click on image to enlarge.

Alnus crispa

Alnus incana

Betula glandulosa

Betula occidentalis

Betula papyrifera

Dichotomous Key To Betulaceae Species

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