The two have differences in habitat requirements, with silver birch found mainly on dry, sandy soils, and downy birch more common on wet, poorly drained sites such as clay soils and peat bogs. Many North American texts treat the two species as conspecific (and cause confusion by combining the downy birch's alternative vernacular name 'white birch', with the scientific name B. pendula of the other species), but they are regarded as distinct species throughout Europe. The flowers are catkins and the light, winged seeds get widely scattered by the wind. In the spring, large quantities of sap rise up the trunk and this can be tapped. The silver birch is a hardy tree, a pioneer species, and one of the first trees to appear on bare or fire-swept land. pendula. River birch is an increasingly popular, fast-growing tree for the home landscape. Other common names include swamp birch, glandular birch, dwarf birch, and resin birch. Himalayan Birch (Betula utilis var. Other names for this tree include bog birch and arctic birch. It needs plenty of light and does best on dry, acid soils and is found on heathland, mountainsides, and clinging to crags. Ron Evans / Getty Images. This tree commonly grows with the mycorrhizal fungus Amanita muscaria in a mutualistic relationship. Yet, downy birches are characterised by hairy leaves and young shoots, whereas the same parts on silver birch are hairless. Flowering in April and May, the tree produces fruiting catkins from August through October and serves as a food source for deer, moose, rabbits and various birds. Barbara Gillette is a Master Gardener, Herbalist, beekeeper, and journalist with decades of experience propagating and growing fruits, vegetables, herbs, and ornamentals.  Birch dieback disease can affect planted trees, while naturally regenerated trees seem less susceptible. It will grow in a variety of conditions, though it favors wet but well-drained sites with a rocky, nutrient-poor, acidic soil.  In Germany, almost 500 species of insects have been found on silver and downy birch including 106 beetles and 105 lepidopterans, with 133 insect species feeding almost exclusively on birch. Although it prefers full sun, the Japanese White Birch thrives in northern and eastern exposures that receivs some afternoon shade. , The silver birch is Finland's national tree. This page was last edited on 25 November 2020, at 17:09. This species, also known as Asian white birch, is a medium to large tree with white bark and thin spreading branches that terminate in drooping branchlets. New content will be added above the current area of focus upon selection In terms of genetic structure, the trees are quite different, but do, however, occasionally hybridise. Its range extends into Siberia, China, and southwest Asia in the mountains of northern Turkey, the Caucasus, and northern Iran. They are sticky with resin at first, but this dries as they age, leaving small, white scales. The small, 1- to 2-mm winged seeds ripen in late summer on pendulous, cylindrical catkins 2 to 4 cm (0.8 to 1.6 in) long and 7 mm (0.3 in) broad. The twigs are slender and often pendulous and the leaves are roughly triangular with doubly serrate margins and turn yellow in autumn before they fall. Betula pendula ‘Dalecarlica’ This is a ‘cut leaf’ variety with almost feathery foliage, same pendulus foliage. The silver birch typically reaches 15 to 25 m (49 to 82 ft) tall (exceptionally up to 31 m (102 ft)), with a slender trunk usually under 40 cm (16 in) diameter. Exact details such as growing zones and height will depend on the particular variety. It is also native to northern Morocco and has become naturalised in some other parts of the world. It contains around 1% sugars and can be used in a similar way to maple syrup, being drunk fresh, concentrated by evaporation, or fermented into a "wine". Do not let this deter you though; these are magnificent trees and should definitely be considered for inclusion in your landscape. Most birches are characterized by distinctive bark with papery plates; the appearance of the bark often is the feature that gives the species its common names.  Its tolerance to pollution make it suitable for planting in industrial areas and exposed sites. Other common names for this tree include western birch, red birch, river birch, black birch, and western red birch. The bark, on mature trees, develops vertical cracks that form irregular scaly plates, closely resembling the bark of cherry trees. jacquemontii), Japanese White Birch (Betula platyphylla 'Japanica'), Silver Birch (Betula pendula or B. verrucosa), Water Birch (Betula occidentalis or Betula fontinalis), 40 Species of Pines From Around the World, 11 Species of Walnut Trees for North American Landscapes, 12 Common Species of Willow Trees and Shrubs, 12 Trees With Brilliant Fall Color Plus Other Advantages.  In the United States, the wood is attacked by the bronze birch borer (Agrilus anxius), an insect pest to which it has no natural resistance. Regionally, the cherry birch may be called by other common names, including black birch, sweet birch, mahogany birch, Virginia roundleaf birch, or spice birch. The main components in the essential oil of the buds are α-copaene (~10%), germacrene D (~15%), and δ-cadinene (~13%). The silver birch is a medium-sized deciduous tree that owes its common name to the white peeling bark on the trunk.  The synonym Betula oycowiensis (as B. oycoviensis) was previously listed on the Red List as vulnerable, though it is now considered a synonym of B. pendula subsp. The Silver birch has an attractive pendulous habit and distinctive white bark that peels away in papery strips. , B. pendula is considered a species of least concern by the IUCN Red List. carelica, fontqueri, laciniata, lapponica, meridionalis, microlepis, and parvibracteata, as well as forms Betula pendula f. bircalensis, crispa, and palmeri. The dwarf birch is rarely planted in landscapes, but it is important cover vegetation in cold northern territories. The bark remains smooth until the tree gets quite large, but in older trees, the bark thickens, becoming irregular, dark, and rugged. Water birch typically occurs along streams in mountainous regions, where it grows in dense thickets. It is sometimes used as a pioneer and nurse tree elsewhere. It makes a good firewood, but is quickly consumed by the flames. However, the roots might head for your plumbing pipes if a large tree is planted too close to your house. Bog birch is a good choice for rain gardens.  B. szaferi was previously considered extinct in the wild on the Red List, but is now considered a form of B. pendula with the presence of a mutant gene, causing it to grow weakly and fruit heavily. , The leaves have short, slender stalks and are 3 to 7 cm (1.2 to 2.8 in) long, triangular with broad, untoothed, wedge-shaped bases, slender pointed tips, and coarsely double-toothed, serrated margins. Vanessa Richins Myers is a seasoned horticulturist, garden writer and educator with 10+ years of experience in the horticulture and gardening space. , The branches of the silver birch often have tangled masses of twigs known as witch's brooms growing among them, caused by the fungus Taphrina betulina. This tree also attracts beautiful butterflies to the landscape, but is resistant to the bronze birch borer which can devastate other species of birch. For the racehorse, see, CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T62535A3115662.en. It is one of the only truly heat-tolerant birches.  Some shoots are long and bear the male catkins at the tip, while others are short and bear female catkins. Most Popular Weeping Birch Tree Varieties for Large Gardens.  In addition to mycorrhiza, the presence of microfauna in the soil assists the growth of the tree, as it enhances the mobilization of nutrients. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. It is a single-stemmed tree with yellow-bronze bark that peels in narrow horizontal strips. The beautiful bark and leaves make birches a common choice in landscaping, but they are relatively short-lived trees when compared to other hardwoods. The species is monoecious with male and female catkins found on the same tree. , Birch brushwood is used for racecourse jumps and besom brooms. In Scandinavia and other regions of northern Europe, it is grown for forest products such as lumber and pulp, as well as for aesthetic purposes and ecosystem services. Here are 11 common types of birch trees for your landscape. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board. Birches are fast-growing trees that can quickly provide benefit to your yard. Birch trees offer interesting bark color and texture and attractive foliage, but they are relatively short-lived and they may suffer from a susceptibility to diseases and insects, especially the bronze birch borer. Yellow birch may be known regionally as swamp birch, curly birch, gold birch, or hard birch. A main requirement is consistently moist soil. Others are trees that clump with multiple trunks. Sometimes called the ‘Swedish Birch) it does lose the foliage early. Bog birch is a medium-sized, short-lived, clump-forming shrub that thrives in wet sites. It is also distinguished cytologically, silver birch being diploid (with two sets of chromosomes), whereas downy birch is tetraploid (four sets of chromosomes). Trees known as weeping birches generally are different naturally occurring or cultivated varieties of silver birch (Betula pendula), described above. Various parts of the tree are used in traditional medicine and the bark contains triterpenes, which have been shown to have medicinal properties.  Also present in the bark are other triterpene substances which have been used in laboratory research to identify its possible biological properties. Flowering plants often found in birch woods include primrose (Primula vulgaris), violet (Viola riviniana), bluebell (Hyacinthoides non-scripta), wood anemone (Anemone nemorosa), and wood sorrel (Oxalis acetosella).  Silver birch is often planted in parks and gardens, grown for its white bark and gracefully drooping shoots, sometimes even in warmer-than-optimum places such as Los Angeles and Sydney. Cherry birch is a large tree that grows from a single main trunk. , The outer part of the bark contains up to 20% betulin. It grows as single-trunk tree that gradually transforms from pyramidal in shape to a more rounded, oval crown. It has been introduced into North America, where it is known as the European white birch, and is considered invasive in some states in the United States and parts of Canada.  Other synonyms include:, The silver birch has an open canopy which allows plenty of light to reach the ground.  It is naturalised and locally invasive in parts of Canada. Paper birch is so-named due to the thin white bark which often peels in paper-like layers from the trunk. Old trees are often killed by the decay fungus Piptoporus betulinus and fallen branches rot rapidly on the forest floor.  It has been introduced into North America, where it is known as the European white birch, and is considered invasive in the states of Kentucky, Maryland, Washington, and Wisconsin. It has distinctive salmon-pink to reddish-brown bark that exfoliates to reveal lighter inner bark providing year round interest in the landscape. The immature male catkins are present during the winter, but the female catkins develop in the spring, soon after the leaves unfurl. , The silver birch grows naturally from western Europe eastwards to Kazakhstan, the Sakha Republic in Siberia, Mongolia, and the Xinjiang province in China, and southwards to the mountains of the Caucasus and northern Iran, Iraq, and Turkey. Also known as Weeping birch or European white birch, the sliver birch was once used extensively in landscapes, but its high susceptibility to the bronze birch borer has limited its use in more recent years. Yellow birch, named for the color of its bark, is a relatively long-lived birch which typically grows 150 years and may even grow up to 300 years in old-growth forests. River birch may also be known as red birch, black birch, or water birch. Primarily native to Alaska, Canada, and northern U.S. states, this tree has lovely white bark and yellow fall color. , Silver birch can easily be confused with the similar downy birch (Betula pubescens). Shiny, red-brown bark and yellow foliage make this an attractive tree for lawns and naturalized areas. It does not tolerate shade well. In midsummer, the female catkins mature and the male catkins expand and release pollen, and wind pollination takes place.  Historically, the bark was used for tanning. The various species of birch trees in the Betula genus include at least 12 that are important landscape trees. As they are shallow-rooted, they may require water during dry periods. Most birches are water lovers, which can be great if you have soil that tends to be moist.  This disease also affects B. pubescens and in 2000 was reported at many of the sites planted with birch in Scotland during the 1990s. Other mycorrhizal associates include Leccinum scabrum and Cantharellus cibarius. By keeping your trees well pruned and free of damaged branches, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of infestation by bronze birch borer or other insects. It can grow either as a single-trunk tree or in small clumps with multiple trunks. It may grow either as a single-trunk tree or a multi-trunk clumping tree. The cultivars marked agm above have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit. It is a medium-sized tree with a single trunk that quickly branches out into a pyramid shape. The thin sheets of bark that peel off young wood contain a waxy resin and are easy to ignite even when wet. , Three subspecies of silver birch are accepted:, B. pendula is distinguished from the related B. pubescens, the other common European birch, in having hairless, warty shoots (hairy and without warts in downy birch), more triangular leaves with double serration on the margins (more ovoid and with single serrations in downy birch), and whiter bark often with scattered black fissures (greyer, less fissured, in downy birch). 'Youngii' has dense, twiggy, weeping growth with no central leader and requires being grafted onto a standard stem of normal silver birch. , The larvae of a large number of species of butterflies, moths, and other insects feed on the leaves and other parts of the silver birch. , Several varieties of B. pendula are no longer accepted, including B. pendula var. This tree grows best in medium to wet, well-drained, sandy or rocky loam. The tree can also be found in more temperate regions of Australia. Many species of birds and animals are found in birch woodland, the tree supports a wide range of insects and the light shade it casts allows shrubby and other plants to grow beneath its canopy. Betula nana is a small dwarf shrub, native to arctic and cool temperate regions, especially tundra landscapes. River birch has good resistant to the bronze birch borer. Latin name – Betula Pendula Purpurea. The dead twigs are also useful as kindling for outdoor fires. The leaf base of silver birch is usually a right angle to the stalk, while for downy birches, it is rounded. The bark on the trunk and branches is golden-brown at first, but later this turns to white as a result of papery tissue developing on the surface and peeling off in flakes, in a similar manner to the closely related paper birch (B. papyrifera). Unlike other birch trees, its bark does not peel. Trees known as weeping birches generally are different naturally occurring or cultivated varieties of silver birch (Betula pendula), described above. Buds, catkins and leaves along with twigs and bark are a source of food for birds and other wildlife. They grow best in full sun planted in deep, well-drained soil.. Dark green foliage turns a beautiful buttery yellow in the fall. It also is known as the canoe birch or white birch. This applies particularly to acidic or nutrient-poor soils. Insect pests are most likely to strike a birch tree in areas where it is wounded or diseased. Like several other members of the birch familly, this birch performs best in cooler climate; with warmer zones causing increased susceptibility to birch borer insects. Silver birch also demands slightly more summer warmth than does downy birch, which is significant in the cooler parts of Europe. "Lack of Evidence for Impact of the European White Birch, 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2014-3.RLTS.T194831A2363997.en, "HOSTS – a Database of the World's Lepidopteran Hostplants", International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, "Suomen kansallistunnukset (Finland's national emblems)", "Perinteinen saunavihta (Traditional sauna vihta)". The seeds are very numerous and are separated by scales, and when ripe, the whole catkin disintegrates and the seeds are spread widely by the wind. This allows a variety of mosses, grasses, and flowering plants to grow beneath, which in turn attract insects.  Leafy, fragrant boughs of silver birch (called vihta or vasta) are used to gently beat oneself in the Finnish sauna culture. Although all weeping birch trees we offer look lovely in large, open spaces, some varieties are more suited for big gardens, mainly due to their own imposing size that ranges from 10 to 30 metres in height. When planted in residential landscapes, it grows well around bodies of water or in boggy areas. Weeping Birches (Betula pendula var.) The ornamental interest of Himalayan birch includes pretty spring flowers, rich yellow fall color, and bright white papery bark. But birches still make excellent, fast-growing landscape specimens, provided you have realistic expectations. Birds found in birch woodland include the chaffinch, tree pipit, willow warbler, nightingale, robin, woodcock, redpoll, and green woodpecker.  The removal of bark was at one time so widespread that Carl Linnaeus expressed his concern for the survival of the woodlands. And others grow as classic single-trunk trees. And many are susceptible to damage from insects and diseases. Betula pendula varieties.  In the southern parts of its range, it is mainly found in mountainous regions. Its light seeds are easily blown by the wind and it is a pioneer species, one of the first trees to sprout on bare land or after a forest fire. The bark is dark red-brown to blackish, and smooth. The Paper Bark birch demonstrates some resistance to the bronze birch borer. Broken twigs emit a spicy wintergreen fragrance and fermented sap is an ingredient in birch beer. Some varieties grow in shrubby clusters. , Successful birch cultivation requires a climate cool enough for at least the occasional winter snowfall. This tree has other common names, including white-barked Himalayan birch and Jacquemonti birch.  "Silver Birch" redirects here. The plant tolerates occasional flooding, alkaline soil, clay soil, and road salt, but it does not tolerate air pollution very well. Birch trees belong to the genus Betula and are classified as part of the Betulaceae family of plants. . The buds are small and sticky, and development is sympodial - the terminal bud dies away and growth continues from a lateral bud. The foliage is a pale to medium green and turns yellow early in the autumn before the leaves fall. This birch species is very susceptible to the bronze birch borer and usually requires removal and/or replacement, especially in warmer zones. This tree is a source of food and lodge material for the common North American beaver. Small shrubs that grow on the forest floor include blaeberry (Vaccinium myrtillus) and cowberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea). This is an important species to the North American lumber industry and a major woodland food source for birds and wildlife. Exact details such as growing zones and height will depend on the particular variety. , Silver birch wood is pale in colour with no distinct heartwood and is used in making furniture, plywood, veneers, parquet blocks, skis, and kitchen utensils, and in turnery. Bark can be heated and the resin collected; the resin is an excellent waterproof glue and useful for starting fires. They are typically small to medium-sized trees and shrubs found in temperate zones in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a heartier and longer-lived tree in cooler climates. This is the classic birch tree use by Native Americans to make many useful products from footware to their famous birch-bark canoes. Slabs of bark are used for making roof shingles and strips are used for handicrafts such as wooden footwear and small containers. It is planted decoratively in parks and gardens and is used for forest products such as joinery timber, firewood, tanning, racecourse jumps, and brooms. Betula pendula, commonly known as silver birch, warty birch, European white birch, or East Asian white birch, is a species of tree in the family Betulaceae, native to Europe and parts of Asia, though in southern Europe, it is only found at higher altitudes. 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