Betula pendula (Silver Birch)
|Price £ each (ex. VAT)|
Bareroot from November to April
The prices above are offered as a guide and may be subject to fluctuation dependant upon the time of season and supply. We recommend that contact is made with the office for larger orders, a quotation and to check availability Alternatively please contact us to enquire about opening a wholesale account.
Possibly the most graceful and elegant British native tree, sometimes called 'The Lady of the Woods'. Fast-growing, the Silver Birch has a light canopy, which casts dappled shade allowing other plants to grow beneath it, pendulous branches and golden yellow autumn leaf colour. The peeling white bark and delicate tracery of branches make this tree attractive even in the depths of winter; a mature tree covered in hoar frost is a memorable sight.
Site and soil
The Silver Birch prefers light, free-draining sandy soils, including acid sands, but should do well on all but the heaviest of ground. It copes well with exposed situations and high elevations.
Height and spread
After 10 years: 8m x 3m
After 20 years: 18m x 4m
Leaf and bark
Diamond-shaped, sharply toothed leaves open palest green, darkening to mid-green by midsummer, then turning golden yellow before leaf fall in autumn. The bark is white with horizontal lines and dark diamond-shaped cracks. The white bark peels to reveal pale orange young bark beneath.
Flower, seed and fruit
The yellow-brown catkins open in March-April, the males about double the length of the female at 3cm. The female catkins disintegrate on fruiting and the tiny seeds are dispersed by the wind.
Specimen tree, woodland, shelter belt for younger, slower-growing trees. The wood is used for plywood and furniture making, and for handles for tools and brushes. The bark is used for roofing in Scandinavia, and an oil from the bark is used in the preparation of leather; it has insect repellent properties. Charcoal from the wood was once used in the manufacture of gunpowder, and the twigs form the brushwood fencing on racecourses and besoms. Birch has several medicinal uses and is currently being researched for its effectiveness in treating certain cancers and HIV.
The Silver Birch is an ecologically important species. Its light canopy allows a wide range of plants to flourish beneath it on the woodland floor, attracting many birds, insects and small mammals. It is an important pioneer species, rapidly colonising suitable open ground. It forms effective shelter for slower-growing trees like oak and beech.
Silver Birch is not normally pruned.