Betula platyphylla
Common name: 
Asian White Birch
Manchurian Birch
Pronunciation: 
BET-u-la plat-i-FIL-a
Family: 
Betulaceae
Genus: 
Type: 
Broadleaf
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
No
  • Deciduous tree, may reach 30-65 ft (10-20 m) tall, light-open crown.  Young twigs thin, dark gray to reddish, densely covered with white resin glands.  Bud break is very early, some 3 weeks before other birches (Krüssmann, 1976).  Leaves alternate, simple, triangular ovate, 4-6 cm long, base obliquely wedge-shaped (cuneate), apex short acuminate, margin coarsely serrate, 5-7 paired veins, deep green above, lighter below and with small brownish glands, otherwise both sides glabrous.  Fruit catkins 3 cm long.
  • Sun or light shade.   Susceptible to bronze birch borer; see Dirr (1998, p. 134) for more information.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone (4)5    Native to central and eastern Siberia, Manchuria, Korea and Japan.   A few geographical varieties, the two most important appear to be:
    • var. japonica  -  bark is pure white, twigs gladular-warty, leaves triangular-ovate, 4-7.5 cm long, to 6 cm wide, truncate at base or cordate, glabrous below or finely pubescent.  Native to Japan, Manchuria and northern China.   At one time the birch cultivar, ‘Whitespire’, was thought to be a selection of B. p. var. japonica, but it is now considered a selection of Betula populifolia.
    • var. szechwanica  -  smaller, 15-40 ft (5-12 m) high, bark white or silvery-gray, or reddish, thin peeling; leaves triangular to ovate, to 6 cm long and 5 cm wide, base cuneate, apex short acuminate, margin irregularly serrate, tough to leathery, both side glabrous, densely glandular below (helps in identification, (Krüssmann, 1976); leaves persist until late fall.  Native to western China.
  • One rather winter hardy selection is Dakota Pinnacle® (USDA Zone 3)
  • platyphylla: broad-leaved.
  • Portland, Oregon: Hoyt Arboretum

Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit and leaves

    plant habit and leaves

  • leaf

    leaf

  • leaf, underside

    leaf, underside

  • trunk, bark

    trunk, bark

  • winter twig, buds

    winter twig, buds