Downy Birch
Betula pubescens

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Downy birch (Betula pubescens) is a short-lived tree growing to 15m (45ft). In their early years, they may grow up to one metre a year.



USEFUL INFO ABOUT THIS TREE

Type Deciduous
(loses its leaves in autumn / winter)

Height Can grow up to 20 metres (65 feet)

Spread The branches can spread out to 5 - 10 metres (15 - 35 feet)

Soil Can grow in most soil types - sand, clay, chalk, loam

Perfect for

Gardens, patios, parkland, farmland

Flowers Yellow-brown catkins in early spring

Fruit -

The young shoots are velvety with soft white hairs. Their bark is first red-brown, but becomes a smooth grey-white without the black diamonds seen on silver birch.

Birch may begin to produce seed when six or seven years old. Male catkins shed pollen in April. The female flowers (borne on the same tree) develop into bracts, each bearing dozens of winged seed. These ripen in September and October.

Downy birch is found chiefly on acid soils and prefers damp sites, such as fens, bogs, by lakes, and in areas of high rainfall or impeded drainage. They produce seed abundantly and are able to colonise open ground with quick growing, light demanding seedlings.

It is often the dominant vegetation until taller growing trees overtop it they grow well in poorly drained areas where other birch may not thrive.

The sap from Downy Birch can be harvested to make wine. Its bark is used for tanning certain kinds of leather although the most familiar use of birch is for making traditional broomsticks. It is important to the timber industry, not directly for timber, but as a nurse crop to young timber trees.


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