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Similar but less problematic plants:
Betula nigra Betula nigra
Betula pendula is often confused with:
Betula populifolia 'Whitespire' Betula platyphylla var. japonica 'Whitespire'
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Betula platyphylla var. japonica Betula platyphylla var. japonica bark
Betula jacquemontii Betula jacquemontii
Betula pendula subsp. mandshurica leaves
Betula pendula has some common insect problems:
Bronze Birch Borer
Aphids Found on Flowers and Foliage

Silver Birch Betula pendula

Phonetic Spelling
BET-yoo-luh PEND-yoo-luh
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 pendula, or European White Birch, has a pyramidal form when young, more oval as it matures, and is noted for its white bark, which exfoliates in papery strips, and for its drooping or pendulous branches.

Birches are best grown in moist, acidic, sandy or rocky, well-drained loams in full sun to part shade. European White Birch will tolerate dry soil. Best foliage color occurs in full sun, but if the plant is sited in an area of summer heat and humidity, it will appreciate afternoon partial shade. The plant does 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. It grows in zones 2-7 and is short-lived in zones 8-9. 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 produce an abundance of sap in spring and a species of woodpecker called the sapsucker taps birch trees in spring by cutting small wells in the bark and drinking the sap, which oozes out.

Birches are considered a "pioneer" species and, thus, tend to grow quickly when young. However, it is difficult to transplant. 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:

Birches can become stressed by summer heat and humidity. It is not recommended for planting south of USDA Zone 7. The European White Birch is one of the most susceptible birches to the bronze birch borer, which infects and kills trees. Aphids, leaf miner and birch skeletonizer may also occur. Watch for leaf spot problems.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Rock & Water Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Crispa'
  • 'Dalecarlica'
  • 'Purpurea'
    Leaves purple when young, fading to dark bronzy-green. Fall color orange, copper, and bronze.
  • 'Trost Dwarf'
    Dwarf form
'Crispa', 'Dalecarlica', 'Purpurea', 'Trost Dwarf'
Tags:
#white#sun#deciduous#fall color#full sun#wildlife plant#white bark#tree#silver#catkins#birch#larval host plant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Crispa'
  • 'Dalecarlica'
  • 'Purpurea'
    Leaves purple when young, fading to dark bronzy-green. Fall color orange, copper, and bronze.
  • 'Trost Dwarf'
    Dwarf form
'Crispa', 'Dalecarlica', 'Purpurea', 'Trost Dwarf'
Tags:
#white#sun#deciduous#fall color#full sun#wildlife plant#white bark#tree#silver#catkins#birch#larval host plant#dry soils tolerant#butterfly friendly#pollinator garden#eastern tiger swallowtail butterfly
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Betula
    Species:
    pendula
    Family:
    Betulaceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Outer bark has been used as drinking vessels, canoe skins, and roofing tiles.
    Life Cycle:
    Perennial
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Europe and Asia
    Fire Risk Rating:
    medium flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    This plant supports the larvae of Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilo glaucus). They have three flights from February-November in the deep south and March-September in the north. The adult Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterflies feed on milkweed, joe pye weed, wild cherry, and lilac.
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    tolerates dry soil
    Edibility:
    Sap has been brewed as a beer turned into syrup.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 30 ft. 0 in. - 50 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 30 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Oval
    Pyramidal
    Rounded
    Weeping
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    High
    Texture:
    Fine
  • 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:
    Clay
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasionally Dry
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    2a, 2b, 3b, 3a, 4b, 4a, 5b, 5a, 6a, 6b, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Description:
    Female flowers are followed by drooping cone-like fruits containing numerous small winged seeds that typically mature in late summer.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Tiny monoecious flowers appear in early spring in separate catkins on the same tree: yellowish-brown male flowers in drooping catkins (to 2.5 inches long) and greenish female flowers in smaller, upright catkins (to 1 1/4 inches long). Flowers on catkins are no more than 1/8 inch.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Glossy green leaves (to 2.5 inches long) have long tapered tips. Greenish-yellow fall color is usually undistinguished.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Gray
    White
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    This plant has smooth, white bark and develops bark color at an early age. Does not exfoliate.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Red/Burgundy
    White
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    The young twigs often droop. Warty and brown in color. Larger branches display showy, bright white bark
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Lawn
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Design Feature:
    Accent
    Flowering Tree
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Bees
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Dry Soil