Paper white birch tree


The birch has long held an honored place in American life and history. Whether it inspires images of birch-bark canoes, or lets basketball fans thrill to a game played on a birch-wood court, this is a tree of great value and beauty.

Birches are distinguished by their splendid bark. It is often “papery” in texture, leading to the name of one of the best-loved species of birch. The bark is also distinct in color, ranging from white to salmon to purple, an is especially attractive against stark winter backgrounds or the backdrop of evergreen trees. Relatively short-lived trees (from 80 to 140 years) and generally of medium size, birches are emblematic of the northern woods of the United States, though native birches can be found in nearly every state. Fifteen birch species are found, mostly in the nation’s cooler regions.

The Birch’s Place in History

From canoe skins and utensils used by Native Americans to scenes of striking sylvan beauty, the birch has long been loved by Americans. This fascination can be seen in the poetry of two very different ages. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote in “The Song of Hiawatha”: “Give me of your bark, O Birch-tree! Of your yellow bark, O birch tree! I a light canoe will build me / That shall float upon the river.” And many years later, Robert Frost was to write in his poem “Birches”: “I’d like to go by climbing a birch tree, / And climb black branches up a snow-white trunk / Toward heaven… One could do worse than be a swinger of birches.”

Some Common Species

Paper birch (Betula papyrifera) is also known as canoe or white birch. Its strikingly white bark is a powerful symbol of America’s northern woods, its vibrant yellow fall leaves a sure sign of autumn. This lovely tree was the choice of early Native Americans for the skins of their canoes. The wood of the paper birch was used for eating utensils and other common tools, and today the wood is prized for high quality lumber and veneer, pulp, and fiberboard products. This hardy tree blankets most of Alaska and extends into the northern states from Washington to Maine and throughout the Lake States, the north central states, New York, and northern Pennsylvania. (Grows in hardiness zones 2 to 7.)

The river birch (Betula nigra) is named for its love of wet places, being native in wet sites from Minnesota and New Hampshire to Florida and Texas. In fact, the natural habitat of river birch extends from the eastern United States as far west as central Oklahoma. This graceful tree is also loved for its bright fall color, its copperish, two-toned bark, and the year-round beauty it brings to any suitable landscape. (Grows in hardiness zones 4 to 9.)

Required Reading: New York: City of Trees.

Himalayan Birch Trees: Betula utilis

Above: At Kilkenny Castle in Ireland, a Himalayan birch (Betula utilis var. jacquemontii). Photograph by Wendy Cutler via Flickr.

In a landscape: “Excellent tree for very large home sites, parks, and open spaces,” notes Monrovia nursery. “A problem solver for low-lying sites too wet for many other species.”

Where Himalayan birch trees grow best: A tree that enjoys full sun and enough open space to showcase its 20-foot canopy, Himalayan birch is hardy in growing zones 4 to 7.

Is a Himalayan birch tree the right choice for you? A fast-growing tree, Himalayan birch can fill in an empty space in a landscape.

Above: The leaves of Betula utilis. Photograph by Sten Porse via Wikimedia.

Erman’s Birch Trees: Betula ermanii

Above: Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer. Llanover Gardens in South Wales has been in the same family since the late 18th century; laid out two centuries ago, 15-acre parkland retains much of its original design. See more of the spectacular trees in A Family Affair: Lady Llanover’s Legacy in South Wales.

In a landscape: White bark with a pink cast and a strong tendency to peel will set off this ornamental species in a garden; it will benefit from a quiet backdrop to complement its showiness.

Where Erman’s birch trees grow best: Native to Siberia and other regions in Asia including Japan, it has a relatively limited range in North America (from growing zones 6a to 9b).

Is an Erman’s birch tree the right choice for you? Be prepared for this graceful tree to spread out. If given enough water and rich soil, an Erman’s birch tree will reach a statuesque (for birch) height of 80 feet.

Above: In late summer, the leaves of Betula ermanii start to turn yellow along the edges in anticipation of a burst of golden autumn color. Photograph by Harum.koh via Flickr.

N.B.: With apologies to poet Joyce Kilmer, we think that we shall never see another plant as lovely as a tree. Before you add a tree to your landscape, see our Garden Design 101: Trees guide for growing tips and design ideas. And don’t miss:

  • Privacy, Please: A Garden Where Trees and Shrubs Hide the Neighbors.
  • Hornbeam Trees 101: A Field Guide to Growing, Care & Design.
  • Specimen Trees: Are They Worth It?
  • Everything You Need to Know About Trees.

Finally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for birch tree with our Birch Tree: A Field Guide.

Interested in other types of trees? Get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various trees (specimen, deciduous, evergreen) with our Trees: A Field Guide.

Use Of Paper Birch: Information And Tips On Growing Paper Birch Trees

Native to northern climates, paper birch trees are lovely additions to rural landscapes. Their narrow canopy produces dappled shade that makes it possible to grow these trees in a sea of groundcover plants such as wintergreen and barberry, and you can even grow grass under them.

Unfortunately, paper birches don’t fare well in the city where they struggle to survive in the face of pollution, heat and dry conditions. Although they love cool climates, the branches break easily on windy days, especially when weighted down with snow and ice. Despite these drawbacks, they are well worth growing for their beautiful bark that shines against a dark background.

What Is a Paper Birch Tree?

Paper birch trees (Betula papyriferia), also called canoe birches, are native to moist stream banks and lakesides in Northeastern United States and Canada. They have a single trunk, but nurseries like to grow them in clumps of three and call them “clumping birches.”

The lowest branches are just a few feet off the ground, and in fall the foliage

turns a blazing shade of yellow. Growing paper birch trees means you’ll always have something interesting to look at in the landscape.

Paper Birch Tree Facts

Paper birch trees grow as much as 60 feet tall and 35 feet wide, adding as much as 2 feet per year in USDA plant hardiness zones 2 to 6 or 7 where winters are cold.

The tree’s most striking feature is its peeling white bark, which is highlighted with streaks of pink and black. In spring, it produces hanging clusters of catkins that are very attractive when in bloom. Most specimens have bright-colored fall foliage.

Paper birch trees are a larval host for luna moth caterpillars. They also attract a number of birds, including yellow bellied sap suckers, black-capped chickadees, tree sparrows and pine siskins.

Here are a few uses of paper birch in the landscape:

  • Grow them in groups in moist beds and borders. Their thin canopy lets you grow other plants beneath them.
  • Use paper birches to transition gradually from woods to open ground.
  • Although the roots are shallow, they don’t usually rise above the surface of the soil, so you can use them as lawn or roadside trees.

How to Care for a Paper Birch Tree

Paper birches transplant easily with little shock. Plant them in a location with full sun and moist but well-drained soil. The trees adapt to most types of soil as long as it is cool in summer. It prefers long winters and mild summers.

Paper birches are susceptible to a number of insects, including the destructive bronze birch borers. If you live in an area where these insects are a problem, try planting a resistant cultivar such as ‘Snowy.’

You can also help the tree resist birch borers by fertilizing annually in spring and using organic mulch.

It’s best not to prune a paper birch unless absolutely necessary because it attracts insects and the tree bleeds copious amounts of sap when cut.

Whitespire Birch

You’ve probably seen the stunning white logs with the beautiful deep gray chevrons carefully stacked next to the stone fireplace at the ski chalet in Aspen. Or perhaps you’ve just caught a glimpse in decorators magazines.

Maybe you’ve admired the pretty deciduous tree 3 blocks over. The chalky white bark, fluttery leaves and crisp, clean form are hard to miss.

However you first fell in love with Whitespire Birch (Betula populifolia ‘Whitespire’), it makes a fabulous, fine-textured accent tree.

Tall and stately, Whitespire’s showy bark does not exfoliate or peel. It will create a magnificent focal point in both daytime and at night.

Garden designers across the country love this improved selection of Gray Birch with its good pest resistance and enormously ornamental features. The pyramidal shape is instantly recognizable.

Use this as a wonderful, sophisticated choice for both front yard or backyard landscaping in colder zones. You simply can’t go wrong with a Whitespire Birch.

There are several ways it’s grown and sold. Choose from a multi-stemmed “clump” or a single trunk. Either choice is absolutely gorgeous.

The Whitespire Birch gives you several standout seasons during the year. Bright green leaves and cute, dangling catkins provide summer interest and refreshing, dappled shade. You can easily grow smaller plants in this shade.

You’ll love the way the dark green leaves turn a rich, bright yellow in autumn. Next comes winter, when that showy bark adds tremendous visual interest and captures your attention. The bark turns white when the trunks get to be about two or three inches in diameter.

For a gorgeous, easy care tree that really delivers on style, order Whitespire Birch today!

How to Use Whitespire Birch in the Landscape

In a front yard, this makes a perfect decorative accent in front of a picture window. Use one to anchor a walkway garden bed. It is sure to draw the eye year-round.

In the backyard, use several trees to create a wonderful vista, or view, from your deck or patio. Plant several in a loose grouping and create a mulched planting bed for them to grow in. Add evergreen shrubs for year-round structure, then spice up the design with flowering plants. You’ll love the look, and the polite, airy privacy these pretty trees will give you.

You might choose to leave space to run a wood mulch path between a few of the trees. Create a high-end destination spot under their branches.

They’ll look incredible planted in front of a row of taller evergreen trees. Soften the look of windbreaks, and existing “fortress style” privacy plantings. They seem to catch the slightest breeze and the gentle sound of the wind fluttering through the leaves adds to your enjoyment.

While away a lazy afternoon on a hammock and a good book. Life is short, enjoy your yard to the fullest!

No matter how you use this wonderful tree, be sure to include exterior lighting in your landscape design. Point the lights upwards into the tree’s canopy for an inspired nighttime setting.

Use a single stem plant as a formal specimen plant. These make excellent plants for framing larger building.

For a really interesting look in a natural grouping, try using both a multi-stemmed clump and single stems together. Clumps are grown with 3 or 4 stems, and still achieve an overall upright habit.

Mixing the two forms together is the best way to replicate a natural stand and create a small Birch forest. Draw your plan on paper first, then play around with the trees while they are still in their nursery pots until you get a loose, curving zig-zag.

They can be planted from 7 to 15 feet apart. Choose to vary the spacing to create a retreat in your yard. The closer you plant them, the more quickly their canopies will touch.

For a row of individual trees, place them 15 feet apart. In this application, buy the single stem form.

Birch love cool, moist soil with their leaves in full sun. Try them along a north facing slope or a site where the house or building may shade the root zone, but their canopy receives at least 6 hours of sunlight a day. In that location, Birch will be robust, vigorous and stress free.

They are also great trees to add to the Middle Zone of Rain Gardens. They are happy to have periodically damp soil to grow into.

#ProPlantTips for Care

Birch will bleed sap if pruned in winter or early spring, so wait until the leaves are out on your Birch trees before you prune them. No need to use pruning paint.

This easy care tree thrives in either full sun or partial shade. It’s not fussy about soil type and can grow even in poor soils. This tree is wonderful in urban settings. It can easily handle air pollution.

The only thing you’ll need to do is keep it watered, as it won’t tolerate drier conditions in periods of drought. Cool, moist soils are ideal. An evenly scheduled moderate amount of moisture is best. As you get into the warmer, drier regions, the plants will appreciate additional moisture as needed to keep them stress-free especially later in summer going into winter.

Be sure to mulch the area beneath if you are in the warmer zones as it will help to maintain even moisture at the roots. Using a thick layer of mulch around the tree spread out 3 feet beyond the canopy will really help cover the top of the root systems and protect it.

Please don’t let the mulch touch the trunk of the tree. Pull mulch back and keep it a few inches away from the trunk.

Once established, Whitespire Birch is very low maintenance. Place your order for the Whitespire Birch today. This is truly an outstanding choice for cooler growing Zones.

Birch Tree In Spring Stock Photos and Images

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  • Birch trees with emerging foliage in spring, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Birch tree with green leaf and beach landscape at bright summer day in Finland
  • Birch grove and spruce tree in spring, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Birch Tree in Spring; Betula pendula; Catkins; UK
  • Birch in the spring
  • Young leaves of birch tree in spring time
  • Birch tree trunks and beaverpond in front of large evergreen tree, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Sunlight in forest of birch trees
  • Colorful easter eggs on birch tree in spring, Bavaria, Germany
  • Ski touring in Swedish Lapland, in Kebnekaise massive mountain range. Sweden, Europe
  • Birch tree reflections in beaverpond with water lily pads, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • A Ruby Whiteface resting on a birch tree in spring.
  • Birch tree reflections in beaver pond, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Birch (Betula papyrifera) forest and snowshoes in early spring, Mount Nemo Conservation Area near Burlington, Ontario, Canada
  • Spring Tree reflections in Junction Creek at dawn, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Birch (Betula papyrifera) forest and snowshoes in early spring, Mount Nemo Conservation Area near Burlington, Ontario, Canada
  • Birch tree reflections in beaver pond, with migrating waterfowl, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Vintage filtered photo of hunting pulpit in forest.
  • Birch grove with single aspen tree in Spring, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • a red scarf hanging in a tree, is blowing in the wind
  • Vintage filtered interior of hunting tower in autumn season.
  • Spring birch tree reflections in misty beaver pond, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Birch Tree in Spring; Betula pendula; Teign Valley; Devon; UK
  • Bluethroat, Luscinia svecia, sitting in a birch tree in spring time, singing with open beak, Gällivare county, Swedish Lapland, Sweden
  • Young leaves of birch tree in spring time
  • Scenic landscape with lake and sunrise at summer morning in national park Liesjärvi, Finland
  • Austria, View of birch tree in spring
  • Colorful easter eggs on birch tree in spring, Bavaria, Germany
  • Silver birch tree in spring
  • Reflections in beaverpond water channel in early spring, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Birch tree in spring.
  • Birch tree in spring
  • Fresh Spring foliage emerging in birch and aspen trees reflected in Levey Creek, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Scandinavian Peninsula, Sweden, Stockholm, View of birch tree in spring
  • Twig with seed and leaves of a silver birch tree in spring
  • birdhouse on a birch tree in spring
  • Birch tree reflections in beaverpond water, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Old birch tree in spring. Tree trunk, twigs, branches, catkins against the background of blue sky and white clouds.
  • Birch tree reflections in beaverpond in early spring, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Forest of birch trees
  • birch tree in spring
  • Birch Trees in Spring; Betula pendula; Devon; UK
  • Bluethroat, Luscinia svecia, sitting in a birch tree in spring time, singing with open beak, Gällivare county, Swedish Lapland, Sweden
  • Young leaves of birch tree in spring time
  • Flowering branch of a birch tree in spring
  • Austria, View of birch tree in spring
  • Colorful easter eggs on birch tree in spring, Bavaria, Germany
  • Black and white photograph of Ivy climbing though Birch tree in Spring on Cannock Chase AONB Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
  • Birch tree reflections in beaverpond with water lily pads and grazing Canada geese on shore, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Big old birch tree in spring.
  • Birch tree in spring
  • New shoot growing on the birch tree in spring time
  • Closeup of a fresh green leaf on a young silver birch tree in spring
  • Finnish birch tree in spring
  • Hunting pulpit in forest at sunrise, Poland.
  • Young leaves of silver birch tree with young female catkins, Betula pendula, in spring, Berkshire, June
  • Fresh green foliage of a birch tree in spring. Natural pattern, texture or background
  • Retro filtered interior of hunting tower in autumn season.
  • Birch trees in early spring.
  • Pine trees at dawn, at Måfjell in Nissedal, Telemark fylke, Norway.
  • Vibrant green leaves of a silver birch tree in spring make an ideal background
  • Bluethroat, Luscinia svecia, sitting in a birch tree in spring time, singing with open beak, Gällivare county, Swedish Lapland, Sweden
  • A female Red Winged Blackbird perched on the branch of a birch tree in spring in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Flowering branch of a birch tree in spring
  • birch tree in moor, lower saxony, germany
  • Colorful easter eggs on birch tree in spring, Bavaria, Germany
  • Tarn Hows Lake District showing Silver Birch tree in Spring
  • Spring foliage in aspen tree and birch trees, Greater Sudbury, Ontario, Canada
  • Rusted old tank and young birch tree in spring.
  • Birch tree in spring, Betula
  • Silver Birch tree in spring sunshine at Cheetham park, Stalybridge, Greater Manchester
  • Scenic landscape with channel and lush trees at bright summer day in Finland
  • Collecting Sap from a Silver Birch Tree Betula alba in the Spring UK
  • Birch Tree in Spring
  • Young leaves of silver birch tree with young female catkins, Betula pendula, in spring, Berkshire, June
  • Nesting box on birch tree in spring
  • Birch tree in spring in nature landscape
  • beautiful painted bird house birdhouse hanging on birch tree in spring garden
  • Fresh green young leaves of birch tree in spring, macro shot from old farm. New life. Springtime.
  • Horizontal image of lush early spring foliage – vibrant green spring fresh leaves of birch tree in spring against blue sky
  • Bluethroat, Luscinia svecia, sitting in a birch tree in spring time, singing with open beak, Gällivare county, Swedish Lapland, Sweden
  • A bright yellow and black male American Goldfinch perched in the branch of a birch tree in spring in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
  • Upwards the trunk of a birch tree in spring
  • Silver birch tree against blue sky in early Spring
  • Birch tree leaves in spring, Bavaria, Germany
  • White birch bark ,golden in low sunlight,against blue sky and dark trees on london street
  • Red deck chair in the garden with big birch tree
  • BIRCH POLLEN on tree in spring 2018
  • Ant hill near birch tree in spring forest
  • Bright green new shoots of a Silver Birch tree in spring sunshine with background of blue sky.
  • Birch tree in spring in nature landscape
  • Collecting Sap from a Silver Birch Tree Betula alba in the Spring UK
  • Birdhouse in a birch tree
  • Young leaves of silver birch tree, Betula pendula, in spring, Berkshire, May
  • Nesting box on birch tree in spring
  • Birch tree in spring in nature landscape
  • Old birch tree in foreground and bunch of oak in deciduous stand stand in background,Bialowieza Forest, Poland, Europe
  • Fresh green young leaves of birch tree in spring, macro shot from old farm. New life. Springtime.
  • Horizontal image of lush early spring foliage – vibrant green spring fresh leaves of birch tree in spring against blue sky
  • Bluethroat, Luscinia svecia, sitting in a birch tree in spring time, singing with open beak, Gällivare county, Swedish Lapland, Sweden

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Search Results for Birch Tree In Spring Stock Photos and Images

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The Friends of the Wild Flower Garden, Inc.

River Birch is a forked, slightly leaning tree with an irregular crown. It grows to 80 feet in height.

The bark is smooth, ranging from creamy-white to shiny silver-ish to pinkish-brown and irregularly peeling into papery scales. The underside of the peeling layer is tinted red. With time, the bark becomes thick, fissured and shaggy with dark horizontal expanded lenticels.

Twigs are slender and very supple, reddish-brown and smooth to slightly hairy. Buds are slender and may be slightly hairy. There is no odor or taste of wintergreen when twigs are cut like there is with Yellow Birch.

Leaves are alternate, simple, ovate to almost 4-sided, about 1 to 3 inches long, with double saw-toothed edges, a stalked wedge shape base, shiny green on top and pale and fuzzy below, or at least on the mid-vein and there are often small resinous glands. Leaf stalks are hairy. Larger leaves will usually be shallowly lobed. There are usually 5 to 12 pairs of lateral veins. Dull yellow color in autumn.

Flowers: The tree is monoecious, that is with separate male and female flowers. Male flowers (staminate) occur in a cluster of 2 to 3 reddish-green hanging catkins, that appear near the ends of twigs in the fall and then elongate in the spring, up to 3 inches long. The individual flowers are only 1/8 inch long, are yellowish with 2 stamens, a 4-lobed calyx and are somewhat obscured by small bracts. Female flowers (pistillate) appear with the leaves and are greenish upright catkins, about 3/4 to 1-1/4 inches long, back from the tip on the same twigs as the male flowers, usually. They have an ovary, a pair of styles but no calyx or petals. Flowers are in groups of three, obscured by a bract. Catkins are also referred to as ‘aments’.

Fruit: Pollination is by wind. Female flowers mature to a short-stalked upright cylindrical non-woody cone, brownish in color with many hairy 3-lobed scales. The bracts have become dry scales at maturity, each scale having three hairy 2-winged seeds (or nutlets) attached which disperse by wind and water in early summer to the following Spring. In moist soils the seeds germinate quickly. Young trees do not form seeds. Seeds are about 375,000 per pound.

Habitat: River Birch grows near water sources in moist rich soil, poorly drained or well drained. It has adapted to landscape plantings far from water and grows well if adequate moisture is provided. Full sun is necessary – it is not shade tolerant. It does not spread from its root crown, but will re-sprout from a stump. This species is sometimes subject to an anthracnose leaf blight.

Names: The genus, Betula, is the Latin word for the birch tree. The species, nigra, is the Latin word for ‘black’, and refers to the almost black color of old bark and therein begins a confusion in the common names. In the 19th century the species was sometimes named Betula rubra, which matches the alternate common name of ‘Red Birch’ and refers to the reddish tint of the exfoliating bark. The other alternate name of ‘Black Birch’ should not be applied as it is more appropriately used for the Sweet Birch, B. lenta, as it was in the 19th Century. Therefore, ‘River Birch’ has become accepted, which kind of agrees with the older name ‘Water Birch’, which was applied due to the affinity of the species to riparian habitats. The name ‘birch’ itself is derived from an old Teutonic word. The author name for the plant classification – ‘L.’ refers to Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist and the developer of the binomial nomenclature of modern taxonomy.

Comparisons: The bark of River Birch exfoliates in a manner different from Paper Birch where the texture is more uniform and the exfoliation is a strip to a sheet. Also, the bark of Paper Birch, B. papyrifera, is whitish without the dark furrowing of older bark. See below for a leaf comparison.

Birch Tree

Graceful, delicate branches combined with small leaves and peeling bark (on some species) make sure that birch trees amp up a landscape’s appeal. They’re especially dramatic when planted as an allee (in rows on either side of a path), in a grove, or near water where their impact is doubled in reflection. As medium to large trees, members of the birch family can be incorporated into large suburban residential landscapes with relative ease. Many native species provide welcome habitat for local wildlife. Birch trees generally thrive in moist, well-drained soil and cool, moderate climates. They struggle to survive in hot, dry regions.

genus name
  • Betula
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Tree
  • 20 feet or more
  • 15 to 25 feet
foliage color
  • Blue/Green
season features
  • Colorful Fall Foliage,
  • Winter Interest
problem solvers
  • Slope/Erosion Control
special features
  • Attracts Birds
  • 2,
  • 3,
  • 4,
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7
  • Seed,
  • Stem Cuttings

Garden Plans For Birch

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Using Birch in the Landscape

Deciduous birch trees take on striking gold and yellow fall color. Pair them with evergreen trees, such as Norway spruce or white pine, to highlight their intense yellow fall color. Stage a brilliant leaf show by planting birch alongside trees that sport red and orange fall foliage. Sugar maple, ornamental pear tree, and serviceberry are a few easy-to-grow trees that thrive alongside birch and provide bright, flashy fall color.

Caring For Birch Trees

Birch grows well in full sun or part shade and moist, well-drained soil. That is, as long as the shallow root system—which is sensitive to heat and drought—gets the shade it needs to thrive. Some varieties grow well in boggy or wet soil, so check with the nursery when you pick out your specimen(s). Plant container-growing or balled-and-burlapped trees in spring. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the newly planted tree’s root zone to keep the roots cool, prevent soil-moisture loss, and limit weed growth. Water newly planted trees regularly and deeply during the first growing season. Aim to provide trees with 1 inch of water per week. Continue watering every couple of weeks during the second growing season to encourage plants to develop a strong, deep root system.

Prune birch as needed in winter to maintain desired size and shape. Prune away broken, crossing, or rubbing branches as soon as they are noticed. Many species of birch are susceptible to bronze birch borer, which can kill trees in two to three years. This destructive insect pest invades stressed birch trees that are struggling to grow in poorly drained soil or hot, dry conditions. Prevent a bronze birch borer attack by selecting a variety that is resistant to bronze birch borer and planting it in a cool, moist, shaded location. A healthy, thriving tree has a better chance of fending off a pest attack.

New Types of Birch

Plant breeders are developing smaller selections of birch trees. Small varieties—river birch in particular—make it possible to enjoy their graceful habit and fall color in urban and small landscapes. Look for ‘Summer Cascade’, ‘Shiloh Splash’, and ‘Fox Valley’ varieties of river birch at your local garden center. These plants grow 6 to 12 feet tall and wide and feature peeling bark.

More Varieties of Birch

Cherry birch

Betula lenta features dark brown bark. This tree is native to North America. It grows 50 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Zones 3-7

River birch

Betula nigra is native to North America and features attractive peeling orange- brown bark and bright-yellow fall leaf color. It grows 60 feet tall and 40 feet wide. Zones 4-9

Paperbark birch

Betula papyrifera bears peeling white bark. Native to areas of North America, it grows 70 feet tall and 30 feet wide. Zones 2-7

Young’s weeping birch

Betula pendula ‘Youngii’, which reaches 8 to 10 feet tall, displays a gracefully mounded form and drooping, pendulous branches. Zones 2-7

Paper Birch Tree

Paper birch tree is a popular tree remarkable for its papery white bark. It is found in cooler locations across the continent.

Description of paper birch tree: Generally a medium-size tree, paper birch grows to about 40 feet in height. In good conditions it can reach 75 feet or more. The bark is reddish brown on younger plants, becoming creamy white with dark horizontal lines called lenticels in the third or fourth year. The bark peels back readily, revealing a reddish orange inner bark. Its deciduous leaves are dark green and lightly toothed, becoming golden in the fall. The catkins offer little special interest.


Growing paper birch tree: Paper birch grows in a wide variety of conditions, from full sun to moderate shade, and from dry soils to moist ones — although it will not tolerate waterlogging. Like most white-barked birches, it is susceptible to insects and diseases in warmer climates or prolonged drought.

Uses for paper birch tree: A popular landscape tree, paper birch is used both as a single specimen and in clumps. Its fall color and white bark in winter make an unbeatable combination.

Related species of paper birch tree: There are many species of white-barked birches, including the popular, but short-lived, European birch (Betula pendula), which offers several cutleaf, weeping, and bronze-leaf varieties. B. jacquemontii is a good choice for those looking for particularly white bark. B. nigra Heritage is becoming increasingly popular as a substitute for paper birch in warmer zones. Its bark is light tan with a distinct salmon tinge.

Scientific name of paper birch tree: Betula papyrifera

Want more information on trees and gardening? Try:

  • Shade Trees: Towering overhead, shade trees can complement even the biggest house, and define the amount of sunlight that reaches your yard.
  • Flowering Trees: Many trees offer seasonal blooms that will delight any visitor your yard or garden.
  • Types of Trees: Looking for fresh ideas about what to plant? Find out about different species that can turn your yard into a verdant oasis.
  • Gardening: Get great tips about how to keep your garden healthy and thriving.

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