The Downy Birch or Common White Birch, Betula pubescens, is an upright native tree with pale grey mature bark. It grows in any soil apart from chalk and especially likes damp sites. It has good autumn colour and its leaves support several species of butterfly caterpillar.
Common White Birch is not suitable for a clipped hedge. However it is very fast growing and so can be grown as a screening tree up to about 20 metres high.
Browse all of our other varieties of Birch trees for sale.
Downy Birch plants are only delivered bareroot, during winter (Nov-April).
General description of Betula pubescens plants:
Common Names: Common / European White Birch, Downy Birch, Hairy Birch
This tree is very similar to Silver Birch. The most obvious difference is that the young twigs of White Birch have downy hairs on them and feel smooth to the touch. The tree's canopy is also more upright and narrow than silver birch.
History & uses of Betula pubescens
In the past, birch bark was very valuable because it is oily, waterproof and flexible when heated. It was used to make all sorts of items related to water, from boats to buckets to roofs to hats. Birch was associated with fertility and bundles of birch twigs were used in Medieval times to flog criminals. You might find birch twigs in a traditional Swedish sauna to lightly whip your back with, which is supposed to enhance your detox. Birch wood isn't very commercially valuable these days; it is mostly used for paper pulp and disposable things like toothpicks an dmatches. It burns well, if a little quickly.