Morphological variation in southern appalachian eastern usa betula alleghaniensis and betula lenta betulaceae

Higginbotham, J.W.; Curtis, M.; Parks, C.R.

Rhodora 91(866): 172-187


ISSN/ISBN: 0035-4902
Accession: 007570189

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Variation in leaf, fruit, bract, and catkin morphology of Betula alleghaniensis Britt. and B. lenta L. was studied along the elevational gradient in the southern Appalachians in order to characterize the regional structure of the two species. Populations at 52 sites were sampled in North Carolina and adjacent parts of Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina. Weak to moderate linear relationships with elevation were found in most size attributes for both species. A few shape characters were also correlated with elevation for one or the other species. Betula alleghaniensis was significantly more variable than B. lenta for 28 of the 44 characters analyzed. Levels of variability in both species approximated or exceeded levels found in other regions. Low-elevation rather than high-elevation southern Appalachian B. alleghaniensis appears to be more similar to the northern form. However, due to the nature of the morphological cline, the authors found no validity to varietal distinctions in yellow birch.