Characteristics of Silver Birch Tree (Betula pendula) in the Wild

Betula pendula
Silver Birch or European White Birch (Betula pendula) is a native flora of Europe and Asian minorities where it is usually found only in meadows, hills, and slopes. This tree is famous for its white bark. Mature trees become wrinkled blackish gray at the bottom of the trunk.

Silver Birch is the most common tree and is also widespread throughout Europe. It is one of the first self-regenerating trees in the country after the Ice Age.

The distribution of Silver Birch in Europe extends from the Mediterranean to central Siberia. Its natural range is further south and this species is mostly found in the highlands.

This tree is of particular importance in northern Europe because it has a variety of uses such as the pale wood used to produce plywood. It is also useful for reforestation and soil protection. The young branches are also used as fodder for livestock, while the leaves and bark are used for medicinal purposes.

Besides, silver birch trees are also widely planted as ornamental trees in public parks, office yards, house yards, and on roadsides as shade trees. It is also a tree suitable for growing in a pot as a bonsai because of its beautiful fall foliage.

Several varieties of silver birch have been awarded the Royal Horticultural Society’s Award of Garden Merit:

  • Betula pendula ‘Carelica’
  • Betula pendula ‘Laciniata’
  • Betula pendula ‘Purpurea’
  • Betula pendula ‘Tristis’
  • Betula pendula ‘Youngii’

 

Characteristics of Silver Birch Leaf

Betula pendula Leaf
Source: flickr.com/Ilaria Consolaro

The leaves are small, triangular in shape, wide at the base, and with double-toothed margins. In Autumn there will be a change in the color of the leaves to golden yellow.

 

Characteristics of Silver Birch Flower

Betula pendula Flower
Source: flickr.com/Radu Chibzii

The flowers are yellow-brown and hang in groups of 2-4 at the tips of the shoots.

The seeds are very numerous and separated by scales. After maturing the whole catkin is crushed and the seeds are scattered by the wind.

 

Characteristics of Silver Birch Tree

Betula pendula Tree
Source: flickr.com/Vojtěch Herman

Silver birch trees can reach a height of 25-30 meters, with a trunk diameter of less than 80-100 cm. The bark on the trunk and branches is initially golden brown but then turns white as a result of the thin tissue that develops on the surface and peels off. The bark remains smooth until the tree matures, but in older trees, the bark thickens, becomes irregular, dark, and rough.

Young branches have whitish resin warts and the branches are slender, hairless, and often hanging down. As we age, the skin develops dark cracks and crevices at the base.

Silver birch grows best in full sun planted in deep, well-draining soil.

 

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