A narrow, conical tree with more upright, ascending branches than the pendulous Silver Birch. It has downy young shoots, which are most pronounced on younger trees, and sharply toothed leaves which are also downy on the underside. The grey-white bark has horizontal lines and peels into papery layers. This fast-growing British native is often planted to protect other young trees and is very hardy, its natural range extending to Greenland and Iceland.
Site and soil
Tolerant of a wide range of soils, the Downy Birch will do well even on boggy, waterlogged sites. It is very hardy, with a range extending into the Arctic, and copes well with exposed situations.
Height and spread
Below are the approximate stages of growth, assuming sited in suitable conditions for this species;
After 10 years: 6m x 3m After 20 years: 9m x 4m
Leaf and bark
The diamond-shaped, sharply toothed leaves have a rough upper surface when young, with down on the veins of the underside of the leaf and on the leaf-stalks. The leaves turn yellow in autumn. The bark is greyish-white and peeling, with horizontal lines and dark branch scars.
Flower, seed and fruit
The catkins open along with the leaves in April, the males 3cm long, females smaller. The inconspicuous seed is dispersed by the wind.
The Downy Birch is used in woodland planting, and as a shelter belt for young trees in exposed situations. Useful for exposed, wet areas where little else will grow. The bark has been used for roofing in Scandinavia, and for tanning leather. The wood is used for wood pulp and plywood.
Pollen for early insects, shelter for birds in exposed sites.
The main reasons for buying protection is to protect the plants against:
When it comes to deciding what protection to choose the golden rule is to choose the product dependent on which pest you are protecting against. The below will help you in deciding what height of protection you will need.
Vole, Mice 20cm
Roe Deer, Muntjac 1.20m
Fallow Deer 1.50m
Pest & Minimum Protection Height
Protection Type Where more than one size is listed, the wider diameter protection is recommended for taller, bushier plants.
Support Required Taller support is recommended for use in sandier, lighter soils and wider/stronger support should be used at exposed sites.