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BIRCH

Betula spp.

Betula spp. of the family Betulaceae

Some of the more common varieties (out of at least 4 dozen Betula species) are:

B. pubescens (common)
B. Alleghaniensis (yellow)
B. pendula (European, silver, white)
B. papyrifera also seen as B.papynfera (Paper)
B. nigra (river)

there are dozens of species of birch with a wide growing range world-wide and having a wide range of uses, especially high quality veneer. I will break out some of this in more detail at some point.

My thanks to Dr. Axel Rohde for alerting me to the fact that "eisbirke" is just German for "ice birch" (I had mistakenly given "eisbirke" its own page on this site but it has now been combined into this one)

NOTE: The terms karilian and mazur appear to refer to exactly the same type of birch, one in which there is a pock-mark figure as seen in the pics further down this page. I've just put the pics in here with whichever term was used where I found them or when they were sold to me. This type of birch is also sometimes called "burl" birch, but that is not correct ... this is not a type of burl.



my samples: --- colors are accurate throughout (minor exceptions noted)


3 sections, all of the same 12-foot long plank


closeups from the same plank as directly above


both sides and end grain of a piece cut from the larger plank above, and sanded



end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


yellow birch plank and the same piece moistened


both sides of a sample plank of yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The vendor has this listed as "bird's eye" but I'm not convince that's an accurate description despite the fact that it does have some markings that are somewhat similar to bird's eye marks as seen in, for example, maple.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis --- HUGE enlargements are present.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of yellow birch / Betula alleghaniensis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site. The vendor has this listed as "bird's eye" figure which is just silly and is common for the kinds of inventive figure descriptions that this wood sample vendor comes up with. It does have some bark inclusions (or possibly branch inclusions) but that in no way makes it a bird's eye figure.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of blue birch / Betula caerulea var grandis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of blue birch / Betula caerulea var grandis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of blue birch / Betula caerulea var grandis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of mountain birch / Betula cordifolia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of sweet birch / Betula lenta --- HUGE enlargements are present. These pics have too much yellow in them.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of sweet birch / Betula lenta --- HUGE enlargements are present.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of sweet birch / Betula lenta --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- both faces of this sample have a light coat of clear paste wax
both sides of a sample plank of black birch / Betula lenta --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of water birch / Betula occidentalis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of water birch / Betula occidentalis --- HUGE enlargements are present. The white streaks are white rot, which is particularly obvious in the end grain update below.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Japanese white birch / Betula platyphylla var japonica --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of monarch birch / Betula maximowicziana --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of tian-shan birch / Betula tianshanica --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of tian-shan birch / Betula tianshanica --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


plank and end grain


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above --- color is too dark on both


plank and end grain


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above --- color is a little too dark


planks at a lumber yard, pics taken to show color variety


more planks from a lumber yard


plank and end grain, marked "sweet birch" --- the squiggly marks are boring insect tracks.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above



both sides and both ends of a sample piece of spalted sweet birch


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank sold to me as river birch / Betula nigra


end grain and end grain closeup of the sample plank directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


a set of river birch short planks and one closeup


river birch plank and closeup


end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of river birch / Betula nigra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above and also a quartersawn side grain shot showing ray flakes (and a lot of sanding streaks because this was only rough sanded with a belt sander)


both sides of a sample plank of river birch / Betula nigra --- HUGE enlargements are present.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- both faces of this sample have a light coat of clear paste wax
both sides of a sample plank of river birch / Betula nigra --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of European white birch / Betula pendula


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of European white birch / Betula pubescens --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of European white birch / Betula pubescens --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of European white birch / Betula pubescens --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- both faces of this sample have a light coat of clear paste wax
both sides of a sample plank of European white birch / Betula alba --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gray birch / Betula populifolia


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gray birch / Betula populifolia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gray birch / Betula populifolia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of gray birch / Betula populifolia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- both faces of this sample have a light coat of clear paste wax
both sides of a sample plank of gray birch / Betula populifolia --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of paper birch / Betula papyrifera


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of paper birch / Betula papyrifera --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- both faces of this sample have a light coat of clear paste wax
both sides of a sample plank of paper birch / Betula papyrifera --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Himalian whitebarked birch / Betula utilis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Himalian whitebarked birch / Betula utilis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


NOT A RAW WOOD COLOR --- both faces of this sample have a light coat of clear paste wax
both sides of a sample plank of Himalayan Himalayan whitebarked birch / Betula utilis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by Mark Peet whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of a sample plank of Himalayan birch / Betula utilis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This sample was loaned to me by David Clark whom I thank for this and other contributions to the site.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


a red birch plank, two closeups, and the end grain


curly red birch plank very nicely showing heartwood and sapwood


yellow birch sample plank and end grain


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above

[missing pic(s)]


yellow birch plank and end grain --- plank generously contributed by Chris Arvidson, whom I thank for this and other contributions. The plank is rough sanded and still has a lot of scratch marks but the grain is quite clear.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above. Apparently I took the update on the end opposite the original closeup.

[missing pic(s)]


same plank as directly above, but moistened with water


yellow birch crotch


some small crotch pieces


sample plank and end grain sold to me as Western birch / Betula occidentalis


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE of the piece directly above


both sides of a piece of Western birch / Betula occidentalis --- HUGE enlargements are present. This piece was contributed to the site but when this birch page got corrupted, I lost the information on who contributed it.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


both sides of two pieces of Western birch, cut from the same larger piece. The second pic is facing surfaces after the cut and is in an area of all sapwood, near the bark. This piece was contributed to the site but when this birch page got corrupted, I lost the information on who contributed it.


end grain of both pieces directly above


end grain closeups of the pieces directly above


sample plank and end grain sold to me as white birch / Betual populifolia --- the fairly poor quality of the sample plank was common among the sample planks that I got from the IWCS. The dark line in the lower left corner of the end grain shot is spalting


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE (reversed) of the piece directly above


first face and the end grain of a sample of birch / Betula spp. This part of a collection which is discussed here: COLLECTION B


the second face, before and after slicing off 1/8" showing how the patina from aging is only surface deep.


end grain closeup and END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above.


both sides of a sample plank of mazur birch / Betula spp. --- HUGE enlargements are present.


end grain and end grain closeup of the piece directly above


END GRAIN UPDATE from directly above


about 2/3rds of the surface of a panel sized sheet of birch veneer plywood photographed at a lumber yard --- the lack of seams clearly indicates rotary cut, as does the grain pattern, which would make sense for veneer used on plywood


both sides of a half-sheet of birch plywood --- LARGE enlargements are present. Both sides are clearly rotary cut. I bought this sheet because of the nice swirl and the fact that one side is almost all heartwood.


two closeups from the second side directly above --- LARGE enlargements are present


plywood sheet with obvious rotary cut outer veneer; I shot this at a lumber yard because it was particularly interesting, not because it was representative. The slightly orangish color is correct


birch plywood --- I bought this sheet for a project because of the interesting rotary cut grain swirls on the first side (these are better seen in the enlargments)


two pieces and the end grain. These are labeled "curly" birch but I don't see any curl and any notes I had about them were lost when this birch page got corrupted.


a freshly cut plank of birch from Europe, submitted by Gert Breugelmans, whom I thank for the contribution. He says it is "brown birch".


birch veneer --- this is what I think of as the "classic" birch grain


a couple of sheets of figured birch veneer


veneer from different flitches --- the slight color variations are accurately captured but all of the pics are a bit too yellow


veneer with more color than you usually find in birch


flat cut red birch veneer --- significantly different colors are both accurate


red birch veneer --- very smooth stuff, this batch


quartersawn red birch veneer with a slight curl and tiny ray flakes. To show the ray flakes better, I've taken a couple of angled shots shown directly below.


angled closeups of the sheet above, to show the ray flakes better --- the 2nd pic shows them best.


quartersawn red birch veneer --- this is from the same flitch as the sheet directly above, but this one has no ray flakes.


quartersawn red birch veneer --- yet another flitch and again with no ray flakes


red birch veneer with half moistened by mineral oil





flat cut red birch veneer, all from the same lot --- the first pic is taken from farther away from the wood and has the most accurate color of these 4 shots, but I can't quite get the color of the rest to match up with it. The others are just slightly too red.


flat cut red birch veneer sheet and closeup --- the somewhat washed out color of this sheet is accurate.





the first sheet was sold to me as quilted red birch veneer and the other two were sold to me as curly yellow birch veneer --- in any case, it's a mild curl/quilt. The two-sheet pic should have just a bit more red in the pic.


birch veneer sheets at LOWES --- there's a little too much red in the pics


spalted white birch veneer --- spalted veneer is almost never offered commercially. I got this in a mixed cutoff lot from a jewlery box maker who makes his own veneer (about 1/16th inch thick) from odd pieces such as spalted woods. I have seen similar spalted birch lumber offered on occasion.


yellow birch burl veneer


karelian burl veneer --- an unusual form of burl (common to birch, but not to other species) that gives the appearance of spalted "eyes" instead of the grainy swirls that are more common in other burls.


masur birch veneer and closeup --- masur and karelian seem to be two different names for the same type of birch "burl"


masur birch veneer



The Wood Book pics


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
paper birch (Betula papyracea, also listed as canoe birch and white birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
red birch (Betula nigra, also listed as river birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
sweet birch (Betula lenta, also listed as cherry birch and black birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
Western birch (Betula occidentalis, also listed as Puget Sound birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
white birch (Betula populifolia, also listed as poplar-leaved birch and old-field birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views


flat cut, quartersawn, end grain
yellow birch (Betula lutea, also listed as gray birch) from The Wood Book --- both levels of enlargement are available for each of the 3 views



web pics:


flat cut, quartersawn, and end grain


planks with wet and dry sections; both are flat cut and the first one was listed as Betula spp.


log section


flat cut planks


quartersawn planks


rift cut plank


plywood sheets or parts of sheets


curly plank


quilted plank (what some people call curly in birch, others call quilted ... to me it looks curly, not quilted)


European birch curly planks listed as eisbirke, which is German for "ice birch" which is a name given in Europe to curly figured birch


European birch figured planks listed as eisbirke, which is German for "ice birch" which is a name given in Europe to curly figured birch


figured birch listed eisbirke, which is German for "ice birch" which is a name given in Europe to curly figured birch


turning stock


flat cut veneer


figured veneer


veneer --- the pics that are very pale pink are incorrect color, I'm sure


quartersawn figured veneer


veneer sheet closeups with both levels of enlargement


rotary cut veneer


burl veneer


red birch planks


flat cut red birch veneer


red birch veneer


red birch figured veneer


red birch flat cut quilted veneer


river birch plaque


river birch split log


white birch planks


white birch veneer


yellow birch planks


curly yellow birch plank


sweet birch plank


paper birch planks


curly yellow birch plank and yellow birch veneer


advertised as "ice" veneer --- looks to me the same as "curly yellow" directly above


"blistered" birch veneer


European birch


"European" birch veneer


"masur" birch


log end grain of masur birch


masur birch bookmatched pair and scales


masur birch pair and closeup


masur birch pair and closeup


masur birch veneer


European masur burl veneer


European burl veneer


burl veneer speficed as European birch burl veneer / Betula pendula, and all from the same vendor


same as the lot directly above and clearly rotary cut


spalted birch on the left (top and bottom) and the right (top and bottom). I don't remember what the middle two pieces were but they are not birch


spalted birch planks


marbled Alaskan birch


listed as "golden" birch veneer, and with a green tint that I am confident is NOT the correct color --- I've purchased this veneer from this vendor and the wood is a light golden tan color, as in my own sample above that I mention as a "classic" birch grain pattern


quilted veneer


veneer listed as ice birch, which is a European name for quilted birch


curly veneer


listed as "flame" birch; "flame" is just another name for what, in most other woods, would be called either curly or quilted


"yellow curly" aka "flame" birch


karilian burl plank that is spalted, although it was not so listed


mazur birch scales


karelian birch burl veneer


just listed as karelian birch


just listed as birch burl veneer and seems to be just a very weak form of masur burl


spalted birch pen blanks


figured white birch


birch cabinet door


a white birch bowl blank.


turning blanks and bowls made from similar blanks


yellow birch bowls


black birch bowl shot at a woodworking show. Finish was listed as tung oil. HUGE enlargements are present.


platter and vase just listed as birch


a bowl made from curly Swedish birch, which to me definitely appears to be a karelian burl


spalted birch rolling pin


6" masur birch vase by Steve Earis. Thanks to Steve's excellent photography, very large enlargements are present.


river birch bowls turned and photographed by Tom Pleatman, whom I thank for these pics and other contributions to the site. Big enlargements are present.


sweet birch bowls turned and photographed by Tom Pleatman, whom I thank for these pics and other contributions to the site. Big enlargements are present.


spalted birch bowls


silver birch winged bowl shot at a woodworking show. HUGE enlargements are present. This was not listed as spalted, but clearly it is.


mazur birch bowls


mazur birch hollow forms


mazur birch vases


turned plate listed as spalted birch


one end of a flame (i.e. curly) birch table


a desk extension made of birch plywood (most likely Baltic birch plywood). A note on the color correction: the wood color is perfect but to get it that way, I had to do color correction that ended up making the mouse a much brighter blue than it really is. The wood has a polyurethane finish which makes the color considerably more yellow than the natural wood which is a whitish tan.