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Betula pubescens

downy birch

Slender, narrowly conical deciduous tree to about 20m in height, with peeling white bark that remains white at the base. Ascending branches and smooth downy shoots bearing slightly rounded to diamond-shaped mid-green leaves, with yellow autumn colour, and yellow-brown catkins in early spring

Other common names
common white birch
white birch
Synonyms
Betula pubescens var. kusmisscheffii
Betula odorata
see moreBetula × kusmisscheffii
Betula alba

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Size
Ultimate height
Higher than 12 metres
Time to ultimate height
20–50 years
Ultimate spread
4–8 metres
Growing conditions
Chalk
Clay
Loam
Sand
Moisture
Moist but well–drained, Well–drained
pH
Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Colour & scent
StemFlowerFoliageFruit
Spring Brown White Brown Yellow Green
Summer Brown White Green Brown
Autumn Brown White Yellow
Winter Brown White
Position
  • Full sun
  • Partial shade
Aspect

East–facing or South–facing or North–facing or West–facing

Exposure
Exposed or Sheltered
Hardiness
H7
Botanical details
Family
Betulaceae
Native to the UK
Yes
Foliage
Deciduous
Habit
Columnar upright
Genus

Betula can be deciduous trees or shrubs, usually colouring well in autumn and often with striking white, pink, or peeling brown bark; separate male and female catkins open before or with the leaves in spring

Name status

Correct

Plant range
Europe to C Asia

How to grow

Cultivation

Grow in full sun or light, dappled shade in moist but well-drained soil, tolerant of poor or wet, acid soils

Propagation

Propagate by seed, softwood cuttings or grafting

Suggested planting locations and garden types
  • Architectural
  • Cottage and informal garden
  • Wildflower meadow
  • Wildlife gardens
Pruning

Pruning group 1

Pests

May be susceptible to birch borers, leaf-mining sawflies and aphids

Diseases

May be susceptible to honey fungus, a tree rust and powdery mildews

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