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Betula populifolia 'Whitespire' is often confused with:
Betula pendula form
Betula platyphylla var. japonica Betula platyphylla var. japonica bark
Betula 'Royal Frost' Full Form
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Ulmus americana Full Form
Salix nigra Salix nigra
Ulmus rubra ulnus rubra
Betula populifolia 'Whitespire' has some common insect problems:
Leafminer Flies

Whitespire Japanese Birch Betula populifolia 'Whitespire'

Other Common Name(s):

Previously known as:

  • Betula platyphylla var. japonica 'Whitespire'
Phonetic Spelling
BET-yoo-luh pop-yoo-lih-FOH-lee-uh
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. The species, Betula populifolia, or gray birch, is a short-lived, narrow-columnar, suckering, deciduous tree that typically grows to 20-40’ tall. The species is noted for its non-peeling chalky white bark and its long-pointed triangular green leaves. Tiny monoecious flowers appear in early spring in separate catkins on the same tree: yellowish-brown male flowers in single catkins (to 4” long) at the branch tips and greenish female flowers in smaller, upright catkins (to 1/2” long).

The cultivar, 'Whitespire', is best known for its upright form, non-exfoliating white bark, dark green leaves and attractive yellow fall color. This plant has many benefits including ease of transplant, that it casts light shade, and tolerates heat, wind, deer, and drought. However, it does not tolerate dry soils and has shallow roots. It will self-seed and form an attractive stand of trees. Vegetatively propagated plants of this cultivar are considered to have better resistance to bronze birch borer than seed propagated plants, resulting in the use of the cultivar name 'Whitespire Senior' by some nurseries as a way of designating those plants which have been vegetatively propagated. 'Whitespire' was originally named as a cultivar of Betula platyphylla var. japonica when introduced into commerce in 1983, but that designation was subsequently changed when it was determined 'Whitespire' was in fact a gray birch.

Japanese Gray Birch grows best in medium to wet, well-drained, sandy or rocky loams in full sun to part shade. It seems to tolerate drier soils in its native range. It also tolerates poor soils. Keep the root zones cool and moist and consider using soaker hoses and bark mulches. The plant performs best in cool northern climates where summer temperatures rarely exceed 75 degrees F. and where shallow root systems are generally covered with snow throughout the winter. In optimum growing conditions, plants will easily spread by suckers. 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, tends to grow quickly when young.

Diseases, Insects, and Other Plant Problems:

This cultivar can become stressed by summer heat and humidity. It is not recommended for planting south of USDA Zone 7. Unlike many varieties of Birch, the Japanese Gray Birch is somewhat resistant to bronze birch borer.  However, it is susceptible to leaf miner. Watch for leaf spot problems. Although this gray birch has some susceptibility to aphids, birch skeletonizer and dieback, these problems are usually considered to be somewhat minor in comparison to the birch borer and birch leaf miner. Plants stressed by insects seem more susceptible to cankers.

 

 

 

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#black#full sun#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#white bark#tree#winter interest#high maintenance#upright#year-round interest#showy bark#fast growing#wind tolerant#smooth bark#birch#non-showy flowers#multitrunked#deciduous tree#fall color yellow
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#white#black#full sun#heat tolerant#drought tolerant#white bark#tree#winter interest#high maintenance#upright#year-round interest#showy bark#fast growing#wind tolerant#smooth bark#birch#non-showy flowers#multitrunked#deciduous tree#fall color yellow
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Betula
    Species:
    populifolia
    Family:
    Betulaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Southeastern Canada to Virginia
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Bronze birch borers.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 20 ft. 0 in. - 50 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Tree
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Multi-trunked
    Pyramidal
    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:
    Loam (Silt)
    Sand
    Shallow Rocky
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Available Space To Plant:
    24-60 feet
    NC Region:
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3b, 3a, 4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a
  • Fruit:
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Winter
    Fruit Type:
    Nut
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    Ovate nuts, 1.2-2.2 mm long, puberulous, wings 1.5-2 times wider, ripen fall-spring. Drooping cone-like fruits contain numerous small winged seeds that typically mature in late summer.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Catkin
    Insignificant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Fall
    Spring
    Winter
    Flower Size:
    < 1 inch
    Flower Description:
    Non-showy flowers, unisexual, catkins. Yellow-brown male catkins appear in fall, remaining on tree through winter and opening in spring. Green female catkins are conelike 1/2" long, with 3-lobed scales.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Shape:
    Deltoid
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Doubly Serrate
    Serrate
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Shiny 1.5"- 3" long 2"-3" wide, alternate, simple leaves ovate to triangular-ovate, unequally serrate to doubly serrate. long-pointed triangular green leaves.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Black
    Light Gray
    White
    Surface/Attachment:
    Smooth
    Bark Description:
    Smooth, non-peeling, chalky white bark even through maturity someitmes with a tinge of pink marked with black triangles.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Description:
    Rough warty twigs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Drought Tolerant Garden
    Rain Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
    Specimen
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Drought
    Heat
    Wind