Betula pendula
Common name: 
European White Birch
European Silver Birch
Pronunciation: 
BET-u-la PEN-dew-la
Family: 
Betulaceae
Genus: 
Type: 
Broadleaf
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
No
  • Deciduous broadleaf tree, 40-50(80) ft [12-15(240 m], pyramidal becoming rounded, graceful pendulous branching habit.  Young twigs thin and usually pendulous.  Whitish trunk bark, does not peel as easily as that of B. papyrifera, with age, trunk becomes mostly black.  Leaves simple, alternate, broadly ovate, and sometimes rhomboidal to diamond shaped, wedge-shaped or truncate at base, 2.5-7.5 cm long, coarsely doubly serrate, slenderly tapered at apex; dotted with glands on both surfaces.   Yellow leaf color in fall.  Male flowers in (pollen) catkins, cylindrical, slender, 3-6 cm long; female flowers in catkins which develop into fruit cylindrical catkins ("cones") about 2-4 cm long.
  • Sun or light shade, best with summer moisture in well-drained soil; will tolerate wet or dry soils.  Transplants readily.  Somewhat messy.  This species and its selections (e.g., 'Youngii') are considered susceptible to the bronze birch borer, especially if under stress, e.g., grown without summer moisture.  The bronze birch borer is common east of the Cascades but was essentially unknown in western Oregon before 2003; now it is becoming an increasing problem in the Portland area and Corvallis.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 2    This species occurs naturally throughout most of Europe, where it is known as Silver Birch, and is an important source of hardwood in northern countries. It is the National Tree of Finland.  It is also present in central-northern Asia, from Caucasus through Siberia, up into China and Japan.  Betula pendula is well adapted to cold climates and is more abundant in the boreal zone, where it can be the dominant forest species.
  • A number of cultivars are available, including types that are cutleaf, weeping or have yellowish or purplish foliage. Here are three:
Click image to enlarge
  • catkins, spring

    catkins, spring

  • leaves, catkins and leaf, spring

    leaves, catkins and leaf, spring

  • in habitat, Russia

    in habitat, Russia

  • plant habit, summer and winter

    plant habit, summer and winter

  • leafy shoot

    leafy shoot

  • leaves, variation

    leaves, variation

  • plant habit and leaves, fall

    plant habit and leaves, fall

  • winter twigs,catkins and buds

    winter twigs,catkins and buds

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • trunk, bark, older tree

    trunk, bark, older tree