Virginia Round Leaf Birch

(Betula Uber)

After 7 months of work during the pandemic, which has felt like years, I have finally completed my Virginia Round Leaf Birch painting! Just the act of setting up my palette and removing the conditioner from my brushes is usually sufficient to gather my focus and get to work. Unfortunately, that has not been the case for the last 6 months. The regular consumption of alarming news has left me quite distracted. I subscribed to a meditation app to help improve my mental state, as my forest journeys have been curtailed. Normally, going for a good long walk in the woods can clear my thoughts. I do not have any large forests nearby, so I have been making do with the trees on my property, a local park and my fairly pathetic vegetable garden.

For a few lovely days, I listened to The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben while I was painting. I highly recommend this book. No matter how many books you read about trees, there is always something new and fascinating to learn.

The Virginia Round Leaf Birch was the first tree protected by the Endangered Species Act. It was originally discovered in Smyth County in southwest Virginia. It may be the rarest native U.S. tree species still existing in the wild. They were first discovered in the early 1900’s but seemed to disappear from that location. In 1975 a few dozen trees were found about a mile away from the original location.

Once they were rediscovered, several organizations worked to preserve the species. Seeds were given to Arboreta and University researchers, and the trees were planted in multiple locations.

As a result, it is now possible for you to grow this plant on your own property.

According to the US Forest Services website, there are a number of reasons why the Virginia Round Leaf Birch is still threatened in spite of conservation efforts since 1978.

Threats include “collection for scientific purposes, limited habitat for seedlings (small forest openings with exposed mineral soil), periodic flooding and droughty soils, vandalism, road and transmission line maintenance and other human activities, herbivory, long distances between pollen sources, low seed viability, and a breeding system that permits heavy gene exchange with sweet birch.”

If you’d like to support my work, consider buying a print from my website.

8 thoughts on “Virginia Round Leaf Birch

  1. JENNIFER MCCABE August 29, 2020 — 8:42 pm

    Love the progression of your work. It’s fascinating!

    Sent from my iPhone



  2. I loved reading this. Congrats on finishing the painting. Wow! That was a huge project. Hope you are well, Xoxo Erica



  3. Your art is superb; the new painting is
    bright and enchanting
    Your concern about nature imperiled
    is inspiring and admirable.

    Jennifer MaCabe, my daughter,
    introduced me to both you and your
    talent, and I’m a proud owner of a
    print of your seagrape leaf with rays of
    Sun shining through.


    1. Thank you so much for reaching out Joe. Your daughter is a light in the world. She has been such a wonderful, genuine friend to me. So glad you are enjoying the print.


  4. Where can I buy a print?


    1. Thank you for your interest Michele. I will be seeing a proof print this week of the tree printed on 16×20 cotton paper. If I am happy with it, I will be offering a limited edition for $250 with 10% going to one of 4 tree conservation groups I have selected. If you are interested in this, just let me know! For the trees, Carin


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