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Gray Birch (Betula populifolia).  Gray birch is a small deciduous tree which only lives about 30 years.  It is a pioneer species that colonizes roadsides and old fields.  Commonly confused with paper birch, gray birch has triangular black patches below points where limbs meet the trunk and non-peeling bark. It also grows in clusters of multiple stems and has triangular leaves.  "Native Americans used bark to make baskets, storage containers, mats, baby carriers, moose and bird calls, torches, household utensils, and, of course, canoes" (Earl J.S. Rook).

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Photographs by Valerie Lykes