The Common White Birch is also known as Downy Birch and Hairy Birch. Oil from its stem is used in the production of leather, while the bark was once used for roofing in Scandinavia.
A native of both the UK and Europe, it ideally prefers damper soils than Betula pendula so is more commonly seen in the west. In our opinion it is an undervalued tree for planting in the general landscape and should be used more frequently ahead of the more popular Silver Birch.
Linnaeus classed this with Betula pendula, but it differs in not having pendulous branches and in having darker bark and downy young shoots. The white bark peels into papery layers, but does not have the characteristic diamond shaped cracks of Silver Birch.
Very good for parks and verges. It grows well on most soils.
To vouch for its hardiness, Betula pubescens can be seen growing further north than any other broadleaf tree. It generally forms a scrubby low lying tree at this latitude and is native of both Greenland and Iceland. Its ascending branches give it a more solid appearance than Betula pendula and this makes it a tougher prospect to grow on exposed sites.
Mature height: 17-22m
Mature spread: 6-9m