Silver birch

silver birch

Despite its graceful appearance, the silver birch is one of Britain’s hardiest trees. In the past its sacred properties made the birch useful for expelling evil spirits from delinquents.

A natural pioneer species, it seeds freely and is able to colonise open land with a preference for lowland. The silver birch - or Betula pendula - is found throughout the country on light, dry soils and is a valuable conservation species.

botanical drawings of silver birch tree

Facts about the silver birch

Uses: Its pale, smooth timber is a hardwood and silver birch timber is often used in plywood production, brush backs, toys and reels. On a lesser scale, the twigs are cut to make besom brooms and horse jumps.
Leaves: Triangular which turn yellow before falling.
Bark: Silvery-white upper bark is papery and peeling.
Height: Up to 24 metres tall with spreading lower branches and the rest pointing up.
Lifespan: 120 years
Supporting insect species: 334
Natural range: Europe, North Africa and West Asia