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Ornamental, shade, and timber tree (Betula papyrifera) of the birch family, native to northern and central North America. Also called canoe birch, silver birch, or white birch, it is one of the best-known birches. The smooth, varicolored or white bark of young trees peels horizontally in thin sheets, which once were used as writing surfaces as well as for roofing, canoes, and shoes. The water-impervious bark, which burns even when wet, is a boon to campers and hikers.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on paper birch, visit Britannica.com.