The white birch tree, Betula papyrifera, is the state tree of New Hampshire.
The white birch became the Granite State’s official tree in the 1947 Legislature without argument or opposition.
It was sponsored by Senator J. Guy Smart of Durham, on behalf of the New Hampshire Federation of Garden Clubs, of which Mrs. Helen C. Funkhauser of Durham was president. They easily piloted the birch tree bill through the Senate and the House of Representatives, and it was signed into law on May 22 by Governor Charles M. Dale of Portsmouth.
The white birch is also called the canoe birch or the paper birch, for understandable reasons. Indians used its bark to make canoes, and it was also used for writing paper.
The official state tree was labelled "Queen Of The Woods," by Evelyn W. Cortez, in an article in the December, 1947, issue of New Hampshire Troubadour, the one-time esteemed state government booklet, which said in part:
There are several reasons for choosing the white birch for the state tree. Not only is it native to New Hampshire -- a first consideration -- but it is found in all regions of the state, growing as it does on rich-wooded slopes and along the borders of lakes and streams. It is a characteristic part of the scenery.
The beauty of the white birch is dramatic against the green of other trees. While all birches are sturdy and graceful and may grow tall, the canoe, or white birch sometimes reaches a height of 80 feet. Its bark is chalky to cream white, tinged with yellow, and peels in thin film-like layers. Its leaves are broadly oval on short, stout leaf stalks. The cylindrical fruit spikes usually droop in contrast to the more commonly erect fruit of the other birches.
Sources: New Hampshire Revised Statute Annotated (RSA) 3:6; Anderson, Leon. History. Manual for the General Court 1981.
The New Hampshire Almanac is compiled by the New Hampshire State Library from state statutes and other sources as noted.
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