The birches deserve more attention than they have received. The black birch, in open ground, forms a stately, round-headed tree and its numerous slender, finely divided branches, sometimes drooping, lend gracefulness to its aspect. Upon the borders of a pond or by a brook it is a charming tree, its spray often touching the water.

The yellow birch rarely has the opportunity of development in the open ground, but, left to itself, it is a tree which limbs low, sending out a large number of long lithe branches, forming a semi-orbicular head of imposing dimensions. A tree known to the essayist, which came up from a crevice in a ledge of rock, in time threw out huge surface roots which grappled the rock with a titanic hold, until having fed from soil which they finally reached, it grew to a spread of fifty feet. forming in summer a huge mound of foilage, and in the ice storms of winter a crown of sparkling, dazzling beauty, which even in his boyhood he looked upon with admiring wonder. This tree was cut down for a cord of wood !

The paper white birch or canoe birch reaches its fullest development farther north than Massachusetts. Vet in the cooler hill regions of the State it is a fine tree, and if planted will grow well even much farther south. In the open ground it develops a stately head, broadly oval in outline with rich dark green foliage. But its characteristic beauty is seen in the forest or mingled with a thicket of other trees. There it shoots up with a straight, slender, milky-white stem, without a limb until it overtops its companions of other kinds with its thick-leaved top, one of the neatest, most graceful trees of the New England woods. It has been fitly termed " The lady of the forest." For tree grouping it is one of the best.

The red birch is rare in Massachusetts, yet, numbers of them are found upon the river banks for several miles above and below Lowell. This tree when fully developed is conspicuous for its large dense head, formed by long, slender, somewhat drooping branches, a fringe-like spray often crowding the larger limbs near the trunk. It is also noticeable for its copper-colored bark, the outer layers, upon the limbs and upon the trunks, not too old, hanging loosely in long rugged strips. Alone or among others it is a striking tree, and one of the best for growth by quick-flowing streams, serving at once to hold their banks and to add beauty to the scene. The wood is also valuable.

The little gray birch, commonly called white birch, is associated with barrenness, poverty and neglect. Yet its fastigiate style of branching, its jaunty catkins in early spring, twirling like things alive, and the notable beauty of its foliage in summer, should recommend it to our favorable regard. If we had to purchase it as a foreign tree we should esteem it a fine acquisition for the tree border or the lawn. Certainly it is one of Nature's restorers of worn-out land, and a valuable protective nurse for other seedlings.

The birches deserve the attention of tree-growers, whether planting in masses for fuel and timber or for scenic effect. A well arranged group of our native birches would be a delight to any lover of trees, and planted singly, in open grounds, they are all attractive.

[Read before the Massachusetts Horticultural Society by Levi W. Russell].