The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden
The conservation of Betula uber is fully sponsored.
Johnny Randall contributed to this Plant Profile.
Betula uber is known from a single population in southwest Virginia. It was first reported in 1918, but the taxon was not seen again until 1975 when a single population of approximately 40 trees was rediscovered. It was originally described as a variety of B. lenta by Ashe in1918 and elevated to a full species by Fernald in 1945. Betula uber was formally listed as endangered in 1978, but was downlisted to threatened in 1995 after 20 additional populations were established. Although very similar to the widespread black or sweet birch (Betula lenta), it differs primarily in growth habit and having blunt or rounded leaves.
Distribution & Occurrence
The only known natural population occurs at 1160 m elevation along a 700 m stretch of highly disturbed, second-growth forest less than 100 m wide along the banks of Cressy Creek, in Smyth County, Virginia (Sharik 1985). The band of forest is nearly surrounded by agricultural land.
|Since 1975 the number of trees in the one natural population steadily declined to only 11 individuals in 1984. In response to this and the fact of only one population, twenty populations were created on Forest service lands using nursery-grown seedlings. Although vandalism initially threatened the seedling recovery program, the total current population is now over 961 trees. To date, however, none of the populations seem to be expanding.|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
According to Sharik (1990) mast years and natural disturbance do not tend to coincide with B. uber. And given that mechanical disturbance by removing leaf litter during a mast year in 1981 facilitated the germination of 82 seedlings, attention should be paid to assisted disturbance when a mast year is apparent. This management approach should be done in the natural population in addition to as many of the 20 planted populations as possible. Prescribed disturbance should also be a management priority since B. uber is probably a relatively short lived tree based on the life history of B. lenta.
NatureServe. (2002). Southern Appalachian Species Viability Project. A partnership between the U.S. Forest Service-Region 8, Natural Heritage Programs in the Southeast, NatureServe, and independent scientists to develop and review data on 1300+ regionally