Betula pendula (alba) r.c.s. (European White Birch, Silver Birch, Common Birch) is a species of deciduous tree in the family Betulaceae. It is native to Europe, northern Asia, and parts of North Africa. It is a medium-sized tree that typically grows to a height of 15 to 25 meters (49 to 82 feet) and has a slender, upright form. It has a distinctive white or silver-gray bark that peels in papery layers, revealing the smooth, pale yellowish-brown bark underneath.
Leaves: The leaves of Betula pendula are simple, alternate, and serrated (toothed) in their margins. They are ovate or triangular in shape and have a pointed tip. The leaves are bright green during the spring and summer, turning yellow in the autumn before falling.
Catkins: The tree produces separate male and female catkins on the same tree. The male catkins are long, pendulous, and yellowish-brown, while the female catkins are shorter and greenish in color.
Flowers and Fruits: The flowers of the European White Birch are small and inconspicuous, appearing with the catkins in the spring. After pollination, the female catkins develop into small winged nutlets or seeds that are contained within cone-like structures called strobiles. These strobiles disintegrate during the autumn, releasing the seeds.
Habitat: Betula pendula is adaptable to various habitats and can be found in a range of environments, including woodlands, forests, heathlands, and open fields. It prefers well-drained soils and is often associated with other pioneer tree species.
Uses: The European White Birch has several practical uses. The timber is pale and lightweight, making it suitable for furniture, interior joinery, and plywood. The bark has been used historically for making various items, including canoes, containers, and roof coverings. The tree is also valued as an ornamental tree in landscaping due to its graceful form, attractive bark, and airy foliage.
The European White Birch, also known as the Silver Birch or Common Birch, is a visually striking tree with its distinctive white bark and graceful form. Its adaptability, aesthetic appeal, and ecological contributions make it a valued species in both natural and cultivated landscapes.