How to Identify and Care for White Birch Trees
White Birch trees are beautiful, ornamental, and rather short lived for trees, only lasting about 140 years maximum. They are also called Weeping Birch, European White Birch, Paper Birch, Silver Birch and Canoe Birch.
They are fast growing, will reach 50 to 70 feet tall, with a pyramid shape of heart-shaped saw-toothed leaves that are darker green on top and lighter underneath and about two to four inches long and about one to three inches wide. The leaves are golden in fall, and the trees sport two to four inch catkins, or furry flower clusters, in spring.
They grow well in sandy, gravelly soil with good drainage and cool weather under 70 degrees. They thrive in areas that have short cool summers and long cold winters. In cool climates they can take both full sun and partial shade.
The biggest threat to White Birch trees is the Bronze Birch Borer. It bores tunnels into the trunk which will eventually produce death at the crown of the tree. This pest is controlled by chemical sprays. Good irrigation, and proper fertilization techniques will prevent fungi such as cankers to attack the trees.
Grown as ornamental trees in the Northern United States and Canada, there are many beautiful species:
- Dalecaria, which has deeply lobed leaves
- Purple Splendor or Purpurea which has gorgeous purple leaves
- Scarlet Glory which is self descriptive
- Laciniata which has notched leaves
The trunk is about 12 inches wide and the most recognizable feature of the White Birch is the peeling, greyish white bark on the tall, slender trunk. Anyone picturing a painting of an early native American paddling a canoe, will immediately identify this bark in the construction of the canoe. The lumber of White Birch trees is manufactured into veneers in today's world.