Paper Birch, Large Trees
- Pale, peeling bark. Good autumn colour.
- Prefers damp soil. Not suitable for chalk.
- Other Sizes: Bareroot Saplings.
- Max. Height: 25m
- Bareroot Delivery: Nov-Mar.
Betula papyrifera: Bareroot Paper Birch Trees in Standard Sizes
The Paper or Canoe Birch, Betula papyrifera, is a vigorous, medium-sized tree. Mature trees have beautiful peeling bark, creamy-white on the outside with a faint orange hue on the inside, which begins to appear on wood that is over 5 years old; young bark is a ruddy brown colour. The autumn colour is a pleasing deep orange.
They can reach a height of about 20-25 metres, with a neat, narrow canopy.
Standard trees are the largest size that we deliver; you can also buy younger Paper Birch saplings.
Delivery season: Birches are delivered bareroot during late autumn and winter, approximately November-March inclusive.
Choosing a size: Small trees are cheaper, easier to handle and more forgiving of less than ideal aftercare, so they are best for a big planting project. If instant impact is your priority, or if you are only buying a few plants for use in a place where it is convenient to water them well in their first year, then you may as well use bigger ones. All our bareroot trees are measured by their height in centimetres above the ground (the roots aren't measured).
- Height: 20-25m
- Tidy, narrow, upright habit
- Use: Screening, waterside.
- Warm orange Autumn colour
- Soil: Moist, fertile. Dislikes chalk
- Bareroot delivery only: Nov-March
Growing Paper Birch
It will grow in most fertile soils, except chalk. It needs full sun.
Did You Know?
The waterproof bark is still used by Americans to make traditional canoe hulls. In the past, it would have been used for many other things, such as roof slats, rain-proof capes and hats, buckets and other vessels. Thin strips of the peeling bark can be used to make crude sunglasses and its oil content makes it superb tinder for lighting a fire. The wood will burn well even when it is fresh, but it isn't ideal for regular home use because it produces lots of tar that clogs up the chimney.
It is a good tree to plant on loose soil and riverbanks to prevent erosion because it grows rapidly and has quite a matted root system.
Birches are relatively short-lived trees that don't live much past 80-100 years old.
Standard trees are measured by their girth in centimetres 1 metre above ground level: their trunk's waist measurement. Unlike sapling trees and hedge plants, standards aren't measured by their height, which will vary quite a bit both between and within species.
So, a 6/8cm standard tree has a trunk with a circumference of 6-8cm and an 8/10 standard has a trunk 8-10cm around. This measurement makes no difference to the tree's final height.
On average, standard trees are 2-3.5 metres tall when they arrive, but we cannot tell you precisely how tall your trees will be before we deliver them.
Notes on planting Paper Birch trees:
Paper Birch will grow well in most averagely fertile soils. It needs full sun.
It isn't ideal for exposed locations, where it will be shaped by strong winds.
It will not grow well if the site is shady, chalky or poorly fertile.
Prepare your site before planting:
It is good to dig over the site where you plant a tree several months in advance. Kill the weeds first: for tough weeds like nettles, brambles and ground elder, you will usually need a weed-killer to get rid of them. When you dig the soil over, remove stones and other rubbish and mix in well rotted compost or manure down to the depth of about 2 spades.
Watch our video on how to plant a tree for full instructions.
Remember to water establishing trees during dry weather for at least a year after planting. You will also need to weed around the plants. Watering should be thorough, so the ground is soaked. Let the soil almost dry out before watering again.
Tree Planting accessories:
Prepare your site for planting by killing the weeds and grass with Neudorff WeedFree Plus.
You can buy a tree planting pack with a wooden stake & rubber tie to support the tree and a mulch mat with pegs to protect the soil around the base of your tree from weeds and drying out.
We suggest that you use mycorrhizal "friendly fungi" on the roots of all newly planted large trees: if your soil quality is poor, we strongly recommend it.
You can also improve your soil with bonemeal organic fertiliser and Growmore.
If your trees do need pruning, it is ideal to do this in winter. Always hire a tree surgeon to remove large branches.
Special notes on caring for Paper Birch trees:
Paper Birch is a very tough tree that shouldn't need special attention once it has established. If your soil is on the poor side, mulch around it yearly with well-rotted manure or compost.
Hygiene & Diseases:
Dead, damaged or diseased wood can be pruned off as soon as it appears.
Disinfect your pruning tools between every cut if there is any sign of disease.
Burn or dispose of any diseased material, do not compost it.