The Common Silver Birch tree, Betula pendula, is a handsome, vigorous, medium-sized native British tree that is happy in most soils and prefers a sunny site. The pale, near-white bark, which does not appear for several years is a lovely feature throughout the year. It is relatively smooth and peels over time which helps keep it looking white and bright. Silver birch trees only carry a light feathery canopy of foliage, which casts gentle dappled shade and makes them one of the easier trees under which one can grow other plants. In the right position, Betula pendula can reach a height of about 25 metres. It is commonly found growing wild at the edge of a mature wood and in damp places that larger trees dislike.
Standard trees are the largest size that we deliver; you can also buy younger Silver Birch saplings here and if Silver Birch is not for you, then have a look at the other birch trees we well of just browse our full range of ornamental trees.
How Standard Trees are Measured:
All the trees in the ornamental trees section are graded as standards, which means that they are measured by their girth in centimetres 1 metre above ground level (basically, their trunk's waist measurement). They aren't measured by their height, which will vary. So, a 6/8 standard has a trunk with a circumference of 6-8 centimetres and an 8/10 standard has a trunk 8-10 centimetres around. This measurement makes no difference to the tree's final height. Standard trees are 2 - 3.5 metres tall (on average) when they arrive; they are the most mature trees that you can buy from us. Because of the variable nature of trees - no two are identical - we cannot tell you precisely how tall your trees will be before we deliver them.
Known as the Lady of the Woods, the Silver Birch is a slender tree with supple, leafy stems hanging from its main branches that flutter and sway in the breeze. The bark of the tree is white when it is young, developing dark ridges as it matures, especially at the base. Silver Birch catkins are yellow-green, appearing in early spring and are a valuable source of pollen for insects coming out of hibernation early.
As trees go, the whole Birch family is short lived - 80 years is a good age. Pruning birch should also be kept to a minimum - it tends to spoil their shape so just remove ill placed and broken or damaged branches. This should be done in late autumn as pruning cuts bleed excessively in Spring and Summer.
Silver Birch is one of the most native British trees: it was here before the last Ice Age and was one of the first trees to return from Europe when the ice pulled back from the soggy southern edge of the land that would become England. Its flexible, oily bark was invaluable to our ancestors, who used it for roofs, boats and even clothing. These days it is used for paper pulp and making high-grade charcoal for artists. It is good firewood, but it burns up quickly.