Leaves ovate in shape with finely tooth margins. Bark is dark brown or gray, shiny, and usually not peeling, and may be furrowed when mature. Broken twigs are fragrant with the scent of wintergreen. The flowers and fruit are produced in hanging catkins; the small winged seeds are released in the fall and winter. Found mostly in moist woods.
There are two ways to identify the two species of birches:
Bark: On mature trees, paper white birch bark is white and peeling. Black birch bark is smooth and brown to black.
Smell: When broken or scratched, the twig or leaf of a black birch will smell like wintergreen.