Plant DetailShow Menu

Monarch Birch Betula maximowicziana

Phonetic Spelling
BET-yoo-luh maks-im-oh-wiks-ee-AY-nuh
Description

Betula is Latin for birch and describes a genus of about 60 species of deciduous trees and shrubs found in many gardens and landscapes throughout the northern hemisphere. Betula maximowicziana, or Monarch Birch, is an upright, pyramidal tree (although becoming more rounded and irregular as it matures) that can reach 80 to 100 feet high, but is typically 40 to 60 feet in cultivation. The leaves of the Monarch Birch are the largest of any birch, up to 6 inches long and 4 inches wide. This plant has reddish-brown bark when the branches are young, but mature to gray or white. The quality of the white bark depends on the quality of the seed source and good white bark color may not develop on all specimens. The plant is noted for it colorful yellow fall foliage.

Monarch Birch is relatively rare, but appears to tolerate a range of soil types and urban conditions. As with most birches, it is likely best grown in moist, acidic, sandy or rocky, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. Birches do best in cool northern climates where summer temperatures rarely exceed 75 degrees F. and where root zones are generally covered with snow throughout the winter. Monarch Birch is not recommended for areas south of USDA zone 6. Keep the tree consistently moist and consider using soaker hoses and bark mulches to keep the root zones cool and moist. It needs little pruning, but if necessary, you can prune during the dormant season. Do not prune in winter or spring when the sap is running because it will bleed.

Birches are considered a "pioneer" species and, thus, tend to grow quickly when young. Tiny monoecious (male and female) flowers appear in early spring in separate catkins on the same tree. Greenish female flowers are followed by drooping cone-like fruits containing numerous small winged seeds that typically mature in late summer.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

Unlike most birches, Monarch Birch appears to be resistant to bronze birch borer which infects and kills trees. Aphids, leaf miner and birch skeletonizer, however, may occur. Watch for leaf spot problems.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#deciduous#fall color#yellow#full sun#pyramidal#tree#fall interest#red stems#catkins#birch#rounded#fall color yellow#urban conditions tolerant
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#sun#deciduous#fall color#yellow#full sun#pyramidal#tree#fall interest#red stems#catkins#birch#rounded#fall color yellow#urban conditions tolerant
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Betula
    Species:
    maximowicziana
    Family:
    Betulaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Used for timber in Japan.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South Kuril Islands to Northern and Central Japan
    Distribution:
    limited
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    range of soil types; tolerates urban conditions
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Loam (Silt)
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Description:
    Nutlets held in cylindrical catkins.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Raceme
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Four to six inch male catkins in groups of 2 to 4. Blooms in April, but catkins visible before bloom. Monoecious: male catkins 4 to 5 inches long; female catkins up to 2.5 inches, in racemes of two to four.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Spatulate
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Three to six inch long and 4 inch wide, alternate, simple, heart-shaped, and dark green leaves that turn a yellow color in the fall. New leaves downy, maturing to glabrous dark green.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Surface/Attachment:
    Exfoliating
    Bark Description:
    The bark splits into sheets. This plant has reddish-brown young branches that mature to gray or whitish, but the quality of white bark depends on the seed source.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Reddish-brown young branches that mature to gray or whitish.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Urban Conditions