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European white birch (Betula pendula)
European white birch (Betula pendula)

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Zone
Zones A3, 1-7, 10
Full Sun
Full
Regular Water
Moderate

Betula occidentalis

Water Birch
Betulaceae
Deciduous, Trees

BETULA

The white-barked European white birch—the tree that comes to mind when most people think of birches—has many relatives that resemble it in graceful habit, thin bark peeling in layers, and smallish, fine-toothed leaves that turn from green to glowing yellow in fall. After leaf drop, the delicate limb structure, handsome bark, and small conelike fruits provide a winter display.

All birches need a regular supply of moisture and nutrients; they are generally too greedy for lawns. Nor should they be planted on a patio or where cars will be parked beneath them, since they are all susceptible to aphids that drip honeydew. Bronze birch borer can be a problem in the northern Rocky Mountain states; leaf miners in the Pacific Northwest. Pruned established trees just to remove weak, damaged, or dead growth. To minimize sap bleed, pruned in summer or early fall in mildwinter areas; where temperatures remain below freezing, kept waiting until end of January.

Betula occidentalis

Native to stream banks from Alaska to Oregon, east to Colorado. Shrubby; usually grows 12 to 15 ft. tall and wide. Smooth, shiny, cinnamon brown bark. Ovate leaves 2 in. long.

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