Betula albo-sinensis
Common name: 
Chinese Paper Birch,
Chinese Red Birch
Pronunciation: 
BET-u-la AL-bo-si-NEN-sis
Family: 
Betulaceae
Genus: 
Synonyms: 
Betula albosinensis
Type: 
Broadleaf
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
No
  • Deciduous tree, 40-60(80) ft [12-18(24) m], rounded habit.  Leaves alternate, simple, ovate to ovate-oblong, 5-7.5 cm long, about 3 cm wide, margin doubly serrate or occasionally even slightly lobed, base rounded or subcordate, apex acuminate, dark green above, paler and glandular below, 10-14 vein pairs; petiole 7-20 mm long; foliage yellow in fall.  Bark rich orange-red or orange-brown, peels off in very thin sheets, under layer coated with a white bloom.
  • Sun to part shade, best in moist well drained soil.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 5    Native to central and western China.
  • albo-sinensis: white, of China
  • The botanical variety, Betula albo-sinensis var. septentrionalis (Northern Chinese Red Birch), is normally taller than the species, to 30 m, has orange-brown to yellow-orange or orange-gray bark persisting on the trunk, young shoots are glandular, and leaves obovate to oblong-ovate, 5-9 cm long, the underside has silky pubescence on veins and axillary pubescence (Krüssmann, 1976).  This variety was given a "Great Plant Picks" designation for Northwest Gardens (www.greatplantpicks.org).  Some indicate that var. septentrionalis is rarely encountered in the (U.S.?) nursery trade (Dosmann, Amer. Nur. Apr. 15, 2002), whereas Jacobson (1996) states that the species is "scarcely ever grown" and that var. septentrionalis is uncommon and sold mostly by Canadian nurseries.  Furthermore, he says that trees offered under name of B. albo-sinensis may be intermediate with "typical B. albo-sinensis" and with hybrids of B. pendula.   Dirr (1998) indicates that Chinese Paper Birch are encountered infrequently in the U.S. but are common in European gardens.  This latter point is also suggested by the number of selections listed by Royal Horticulture Society, for example:
    • Betula albosinensis 'Bowling Green', 'China Ruby', 'Chinese Garden', 'K. Ashburner', 'Kansu', 'Ness' ('Fascination' and 'Hergest" are listed by others).
    • Betula albosinensis var. septentrionalis: 'Purdom'
  • Silverton, Oregon: The Oregon Garden.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit

    plant habit

  • leaves

    leaves

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark