Difference Between Birch Trees & Aspen Trees

Updated April 17, 2017

Birch trees and aspen trees both feature white bark and medium green leaves, but, upon a closer look, these trees are very different. One of the main differences between the two types of trees are the leaves. Also, birch trees are stronger trees than aspens, and are capable of withstanding drier conditions.

Birch Basics

Birch trees are ornamental shade trees that feature a white trunk and medium green leaves. This tree provides nutrition to moose, deer, rabbits, beavers, woodpeckers and other wildlife. Birch tree wood is very strong, and has been historically used to construct canoes and start fires. The birch from this tree was used to write messages, hence the name "paper birch."

Birch Features

Birch trees feature smooth, white bark that is very thin. Some types of birch trees have bark that peels off the trunk in small sheets. The leaves of the birch are 2 to 4 inches long and toothed. These medium green leaves are alternate in arrangement. In the fall, the green leaves of the birch tree turn a brilliant yellow before falling to the ground. From April through May, this tree produces brown or green flowers

Birch Growth

Birch trees mature to a height of 50 to 70 feet and width of 35 feet. This tree grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 2 through 7, and prefers being planted in sandy or loamy, moist and well-drained soils. Birch trees prefer being planted where they can receive direct sunlight. They prefer moist soils, but are relatively drought-tolerant.

Aspen Basics

The aspen tree is an ornamental tree that is commonly used in residential and commercial landscapes throughout much of the United States. This hardy tree is capable of growing everywhere from coastal regions to the Rocky Mountains. The aspen is considered a fast-growing tree, and thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 1 through 7. This tree matures to a height of 40 to 50 feet and a width of 20 to 30 feet. Aspen trees can grow in acidic, loamy, moist, sandy, and clay well-drained soils. This tree prefers to be planted where it receives direct sunlight. Unlike the birch tree, the aspen tree is not drought tolerant.

Aspen Features

Aspen trees feature a long, narrow trunk covered with a creamy white bark. This tree features round or triangular leaves with toothed edges. The green leaves turn a vibrant yellow in the fall before falling to the ground. The seeds produced by this tree are easily carried by the wind, aiding the propagation of the tree from one location to another.

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About the Author

Based in Ponte Vedra, Fla., Carly Reynolds has been an article and Web content writer since 2006. Reynolds holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Florida State University.