Betula papyrifera Marshall var. cordifolia (Regel) Fernald

Locations ofBetula papyrifera Marshall var. cordifolia (Regel) Fernald in Virginia

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Botanical Name
Betula papyrifera Marshall var. cordifolia (Regel) Fernald
Common Name
Paper Birch, Mountain Paper Birch
Betula cordifolia Regel
Flora of Virginia Name/Status
Betula cordifolia Regel
Virginia records of Betula papyrifera are alleged to be mostly, if not entirely, this variety, but see comments under var. papyrifera. Furlow in FNA (Vol. 3) recognizes this taxon as a full species (B. cordifolia) only hesitatingly, stating that "in recent years Betula cordifolia has usually been treated as a variety of B . papyrifera , and perhaps it should be considered an ecological race of that species." The two taxa differ in in several minor morphological characters, as well as ploidy levels, although tetraploids are found in both to some degree. Where they co-occur in New England, var. cordifolia generally occupies higher elevations. Many Virginia trees appear to have "intermediate" characters, and a study is currently underway to re-assess their taxonomic status. At the present time, the distribution map represents all records of Betula papyrifera sensu lato.
Acidic montane oak forests and boulder fields with cold-air drainage, usually on north-facing slopes with a history of fire; populations are concentrated at middle elevations, between ca. 1800 ft and 3000 ft elev. (rarely to 4200 ft elev.). Rare in the mountains from Rockbridge County north to Rappahannock County. Many, if not all, of our populations of this light-demanding, early-successional tree are in decline due to decades of fire exclusion.
Native Status

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