CPC Plant Profile: Murray's Birch
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Plant Profile

Murray's Birch (Betula murrayana)

A snowy shot of a full-sized tree of this species in its natural habitat. Photo Credit:
Description
  • Global Rank: G1 - Critically Imperiled
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Betulaceae
  • State: MI, ON
  • Nature Serve ID: 135809
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 03/08/1989

This species is an unusual natural hybrid of an already naturally hybridized species, purpus birch, Betula x purpusii, crossed with another native species, yellow birch, Betula allegheniensis. It can be described as a small tree or a tall shrub, ranging from 4-15m tall. The tree is 5-20cm in diameter at breast height. The prominent lenticels are horizontally elongated in the bark. The flowers appear in April and May before the leaves and the fruit ripens in autumn. Many characteristics distinguish this species from its relatives. The first visible feature is the non-exfoliating, shiny, smooth, dark reddish bark, which peels similar to the yellow birch. The leaves are larger and broader than those of its parents, but are shaped similar to the purpus birch. The pollen is less visible, but different in that the grains are, on average, larger than either parent and are highly viable, similar only to yellow birch. Invisible to the naked eye, one of the biggest differences is that the Murray birch has many more chromosomes than either parent.

Participating Institutions
Updates
  • 09/01/2020
  • Living Collection

Originally two trees were found, but in the early 1980s one died unexpectedly. Only one known original individual remains in the University of Michigan's demonstration forest. Several cuttings from this original have produced plants at the University of Michigans Matthaei Botanical Gardens and at The Holden Arboretum. (Barnes 1989) The tree at The Holden Arboretum, has recently been diagnosed with bronze birch borer. No course of action has been decided yet. (Butte pers. com [Less...]

  • 08/30/2020
  • Living Collection

Originally two trees were found, but in the early 1980s one died unexpectedly. Only one known original individual remains in the University of Michigan's demonstration forest. Several cuttings from this original have produced plants at the University of Michigans Matthaei Botanical Gardens and at The Holden Arboretum. (Barnes 1989) The tree at The Holden Arboretum, has recently been diagnosed with bronze birch borer. No course of action has been decided yet. (Butte pers. com

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Betula murrayana is known from a single naturally occurring site in Washtenaw County, Michigan. One one individual remains, of the two originally known there in the 1960's. Propagated plants are maintained in cultivation, and a few that were planted at the original site and another site have reached flowering size. The species may have recently evolved through hybridization.

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Canker Competition Insects

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Originally two trees were found, but in the early 1980s one died unexpectedly. Only one known original individual remains in the University of Michigan's demonstration forest. Several cuttings from this original have produced plants at the University of Michigans Matthaei Botanical Gardens and at The Holden Arboretum. (Barnes 1989) The tree at The Holden Arboretum, has recently been diagnosed with bronze birch borer. No course of action has been decided yet. (Butte pers. com.)

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

None known

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

None known

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

Field botanists and foresters should look for more representatives within swampy areas of the St. Lawrence Valley area. (Barnes 1985)

Dawn M. Gerlica and Lindsey Parsons
  • 01/01/2010

None found

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Photos
Nomenclature
Taxon Betula murrayana
Authority Barnes & Dancik
Family Betulaceae
CPC Number 8247
ITIS 183535
USDA BEMU2
Common Names Murray birch | Murrays birch
Associated Scientific Names Betula murrayana
Distribution Found in only one site in Michigan, by Third Sister Lake in Saginaw Forest the demonstration forest for the University of Michigan. (Barnes and Danick 1985)
State Rank
State State Rank
Michigan S1
Ontario SH
Habitat

This species is found in northern temperate deciduous swamp forests. (Barnes and Danick 1985)

Ecological Relationships

None known

Pollinators
Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID

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