139 Betula pendulaCommon Names: European white birch, European birch, weeping birch Family: Betulaceae (birch Family)
European white birch is a slender tree with a pyramid shaped or spreading crown of long, drooping branches. It gets up to 50 ft (15 m) tall and a foot (30 cm) in diameter. The bark is white and flaky and often peels into papery strips like its close relative, paper birch (Betula papyrifera). The leaves of European white birch are pale green and triangular and doubly saw toothed on the edges. They turn yellow in autumn. Male and female flowers are in catkins on the same tree. The male catkins hang down and are about 2 in (5 cm) long. They are quite attractive. Female catkins are smaller and erect at first. The species is seldom cultivated, but there are numerous cultivars available. Some are dwarf; some weeping; some fastigiate (erect branches); some have foliage in dense hanging clusters, like "witches's brooms"; some have yellow leaves; others have purplish bark and purple leaves.
Betula pendula, the European white birch, is a native of Europe, Russia and western Siberia, and has been widely planted across the northern United States and in Canada and Europe.
CultureLight: Grow this white birch in full sun to partial shade. Moisture: It likes a moist, but well drained soil. Hardiness: USDA Zones 2 - 7. This northern tree does poorly in warm climates. Propagation: Start new plants from seeds sown outdoors in fall. If you want your new plants to be like the parent, you must propagate vegetatively. Start cuttings from young green shoots in spring. Alternatively, graft buds of cultivars to seedlings in winter.
Cultivars of the European white birch are commonly grown as ornamentals in the northern United States and Canada. They are suitable for smaller landscapes as single specimens or in small groupings.
The graceful, short-lived European white birch is grown as a specimen for its attractive papery white bark, drooping (in some cultivars) branches, handsome male catkins, and fall color.
Steve Christman 12/09/97; updated 5/1/06, 7/21/07