Station 8 | Dwarf birch

Dwarf birch Betula nana

Betula nana, the dwarf birch, belongs to the birch family (Betulaceae) and is widespread in North America.

The dwarf birch can form a fascinating symbiosis with ectomycorrhizal fungi. Its roots are covered by fine underground fungal filaments (hyphae) of mycorrhizal fungi, which do not enter the plant’s cells. This close connection enables a better exchange of nutrients and information. The ectomycorrhizal fungi supply Betula nana with water and minerals from the soil and in return receive carbohydrates from the plant. The mutual support improves the growth of the dwarf birch and contributes to the stability and health of the ecosystem.

Ectomycorrhiza is also important for other plants, for example many fungi in our forests, such as chanterelles or fly agarics, can only form their fruiting bodies in symbiosis with ectomycorrhizal fungi.

Header: Dwarf birch surrounded by red peat moss. Grafik: BotMuc/Tanja Simon