Canadian Forest Service Publications

Improving the quality of white birch (Betula papyrifera) seed. III. 2013. Simpson, J.D.; Daigle, B.I. Canadian Forest Genetics Association, Tree Seed Work. Group News Bulletin 58: 23─25.

Year: 2013

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 35322

Language: English

Availability: Not available through the CFS (click for more information).

Mark record


This is the third and final installment of a series of articles dealing with improving the quality of white birch (Betula papyrifera) seed. It is very difficult to remove dead, damaged, and empty white birch seed using air aspiration because the seed are winged and light. A trial conducted at the National Tree Seed Centre using aspiration to remove debris and empty seed demonstrated that germination of de-winged seed increased to 74% compared to winged seed at 36% (Daigle and Simpson 2001). After 10 years in storage at -20°C, germination of the de-winged seed was still high (Simpson and Daigle 2011) demonstrating that dewinging did not negatively impact germination.

Plain Language Summary

Quality of white birch seed was improved by de-winging and immersing the seed in ethanol to remove dead, empty and insect damaged seed. Germination increased from 34% for untreated seed to 83% for treated seed. After 10 years in storage germination of the treated seed was 86%. These results confirm those previously published that ethanol is an effective treatment to remove dead and empty de-winged white birch seed and that the alcohol treatment did not damage the seed.