Paper Birch and European White Birch Vary in Growth and Resistance to Bronze Birch Borer

in Journal of the American Society for Horticultural Science

A test of Michigan half-sib progeny of paper birch (Betula papyrifera Marsh.) and European white birch (B. pendula Roth.) was conducted in Michigan to examine species variation in growth, bark color, and resistance to bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius Gory). Paper birch was superior to European white birch in height and borer resistance at age 12 years from seed. Families of paper birch were identified that grew exceptionally well, had developed white bark within 6 years, and exhibited borer resistance. The magnitude of additive genetic variance and narrow-sense family heritability estimates for paper birch indicated that sufficient genetic variation and inheritance exist to support selection and breeding for height. Paper birch may be an acceptable substitute for European white birch as a landscape species in northeastern North America.

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